I have now been to three concerts. The first was a free Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Salt Lake City two years ago, marking not only my first concert but also the first time I exposed my children to secondhand pot smoke (Little Dude was not quite six weeks old at the time). The second was a not-free Erykah Badu concert (opened by the Roots) that I saw in Seattle this past June. Not quite as much pot at this concert, but then this time instead of Foxy and the kids I went with a friend so it wouldn't have mattered as much. Today was another free Michael Franti and Spearhead concert and this time we brought the kids again. This concert, the annual Power to the Peaceful Festival at Golden Gate Park, was quite a bit bigger than the last two--Foxy heard them say there were about 50,000 people there and I'd believe it--and involved quite a bit more pot.
This was everything you'd imagine a huge hippiefest in San Francisco to be: dreadlocked people wandering around in very little clothing, people wearing bellbottoms and peace signs, men wearing tux vests with tutus, people doing yoga stunts, people on stilts twirling hula hoops, people selling magic brownies and rice krispie treats, overweight lesbian couples painting little watercolor scenes... It was like being in Forrest Gump--or, you know, any other movie set during the sixties. There was a little flea market of shops selling products made mostly of hemp, vegan food stands, flyers going around demanding more thorough investigations of 9/11 and encouraging teachers to work a segment on cocoa fair trade into their curricula.
In all it was a six hour event and we planned to get there about two hours into it in order to make it to the scheduled kid-friendly activities, but between traffic and our underestimation of Golden Gate Park's size, we arrived two hours later than planned, which ended up being fine. We missed all the performers that I'd never heard of, slowly made our way through the insane crowd (with a stroller!) while Ziggy Marley performed, and found a spot to put down our blanket on the grass just as Michael Franti came onstage.
Though we were ridiculously far from the stage, I enjoyed his performance. He did a bunch of favorites from past albums, as well as several from a new album that's going to be released this coming week--and which I bought today and listened to on the way home. I also bought a t-shirt because I wanted something to commemorate my first true hippie experience. I was hoping for something that said "I went to the Power to the Peaceful Festival in 2008 and I love Michael Franti and I think war is stupid and gay marriage is great but honestly I don't like the smell of marijuana," but as it turns out that shirt was about three sizes too big because of all the words. So I settled for this one:
The back has the number 10 on it so that when you're watching the Spearhead vs. Coldplay game and I'm running around on the field you know which one I am.
In summary, I had fun today. I liked being among such a huge group of freaky people, I liked freaking my wife to a sexy love song while everyone around did the same, I liked dancing to rebel rock while my children sat on my shoulders and swayed their arms. I will, however, never ever again attempt to push a stroller (or help someone else trying to push a stroller) through a crowd of 50,000 intoxicated people.