Under the bridge

Halloween time in the San Francisco Bay Area means that it's also time for the annual Bridge School Benefit concert put together by Neil Young for children with severe speech and physical impairments. This time, the all-acoustic acts featured were the Foo Fighters, Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dave Matthews Band, Neil Young, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

The Foo Fighters were the first act that we got to see, and they played a decent set that included their smash hit, Monkey Wrench. Beck was next and he played mostly his newer stuff (from Mutations, including Bottle of Blues, We Live Again, and O Maria) and left out his classic slacker anthem Loser. His set was quite short. The Red Hot Chili Peppers got the crowd rocking with their acoustic versions of tunes like Under the Bridge, Californication, Breaking the Girl, Road Trippin, and covered Cat Stevens' Trouble and Circle Jerks' Century City.

The main reason I went to see this year's show was to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and I wasn't disappointed. The songs they played included A Face in the Crowd, To Find a Friend, I Won't Back Down, Breakdown, Little Red Rooster, Mary Jane's Last Dance, Johnny Cash's I Still Miss Someone, and Muddy Waters' Baby Please Don't Go. This was definitely one of the best Bridge School sets I've heard.

Dave Matthews Band was arguably the best live band among the line-up. Even though I don't really get into their music, they really get a nice groove going and it's really easy to grind to them. The best part of their performance was their rendition of All Along the Watchtower. They, like Jimi Hendrix, have appropriated Bob Dylan's classic and put their own stamp on it. Neil Young joined them for a long jam on Cortez the Killer. As usual, their rock-star violinist Boyd Tinsley played off with Dave Matthews to produce some killer jams.

Neil Young was next and showed that he definitely is still a rocker bursting out tunes like Old Man and Heart of Gold. Young's rocking nature was most apparent when Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young came out. While the rest of the band were being pretty mellow as they opened with Cinnamon Girl, Young was bouncing up and down. This continued as they regurgitated hits like Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Teach Your Children, and Our House.

The crowd was pretty mellow and there were people of all ages. We missed all the rain going to the Sunday show (in fact, the weather was quite good). This is definitely one of the more all-embracing-positive-feel-good concerts that is happening and hopefully I'll get a chance to continue checking it out (this is the fourteenth one).

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || October 29, 2000