September 26th 2013
The Oakland Music Festival Offers a Small Town Girl Plenty of Food for Thought
The Bay Area is perfect for a food and music loving small town transplant like me. No matter the time or day the Bay has music and food galore. There’s also something to be said for the level of anonymity that city life can offer. I do wonder though, who is secretly people-watching like I am. The Bay Area is so wonderfully freaky and diverse that people have seen it all. It actually appears the only time someone bats an eye is if you try to say “hi” to them on the street. I found out the hard way that outside of a small town, where strangers engage in casual conversations, this can elicit various reactions ranging from confused scowls to complete silence as my unsuspecting verbal victims hurriedly pass me by.
A friend of mine, and a Bay Area local, made a good point when he told me that we simply pass by too many people in a day to say hi to everyone. I took his suggestion to heart and stopped smiling and talking to every person I see. (I’ll tell him you said thank you.) But, where could I get my much needed dialogue fix? Then it struck me, foodies really enjoy talking about food, and everyone likes talking about music!
I consider myself pretty lucky that I work for a nonprofit, which allows me to incorporate my love of music into…well everything! I went to the Oakland Music Festival (OMF) for the first time the other day and after stopping to peddle a bike, which charged my cell phone, I began talking to the people running the environmental nonprofit’s booth. When our work and passions interconnect, people think rambling on about our job is completely appropriate because, well that’s part of what we’re paid to do. Hmmm, does this mean I can expense my concert tickets?
I originally bought tickets to OMF to see The Coup perform. The band’s funky beats and conscious hip hop rhymes have recently bumped up to number one on my playlist, and their energy infused entrance did not disappoint. Waiting for them to perform also gave me a chance to discover some pretty amazing local musicians. A standout among the crowd was James and Evander, a band so local that they confessed to walking the few blocks to play at OMF. James and Evander’s sound is a breathtaking mix of synth-induced trance and melodic lyrics that is quintessential indie. What originated for me as a search for the nearest place to chill turned into the best music of the festival. The duo gave a no-thrills performance that allowed the music to speak for itself. Before I knew it, the set was over and I was on my phone tracking down their next performance.
The other exciting part of OMF was the food, and I know I’m not the only one who thought this because I saw several of the musicians in line at various food carts. Now, I’m not a foodie, because I won’t “try anything once.” I mean deep fried butter? I do have standards even if they appear ostensible at times. One trait I share with foodies though is my tendency to devour dishes I like. It only stands to reason that the item needs to be consumed multiple times…in the same day. I’ve convinced myself this is because I like to cook, and therefore need to continually sample in order to accurately gauge the recipe’s construction. So I walked the festival grounds a few times trying to map out my game plan and prioritize my food options in case my stomach decided it couldn’t make it to everything.
Luckily, I have done my due diligence over the years training my stomach just for these types of situations. Many took place over “Stein Sundays” with friends in my previous place of residence. As I wandered from cart to cart, probably looking like I was a straggler from a food hunting zombie horde, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the vendors were just as excited to talk about food and music as I was. I also found it helpful to tell them I’m new to the area. That piece of information makes people want to present their town in the best light. They divulge all sorts of helpful hints and useful tidbits, from great local microbrews to beautiful places to hike. It’s still not clear how long I can go on saying, “I’m not from around here.” I’m going to approach it the same way I did trick-or-treating; until someone calls me out on it, I’m keeping up the pretense.