“Is Ben Harper ok?” That random overheard comment stuck with me through most of his set at the Sutro stage just before sunset at Outside Lands 2015, as new opener “When Sex Was Dirty” failed to build any real energy either onstage or in the crowd. Harper seemed somewhat pained in his delivery in the first half of the performance. Not disinterested, but as if he were somewhere else.
The groove and soul eventually took over, as “With My Own Two Hands” resonated powerfully in the unusually small crowd (Tame Impala likely carved into his audience with their concurrent set). By the time “Steal My Kisses” and “Burn One Down” came along, the mood was considerably lightened – and both were taken by fans as musical instructions. Making out and smoking joints at Outside Lands – hell, it’s a festival after all, isn’t it?
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