The last Sunday in June marks Gay Pride celebrations in New York, San Francisco, and numerous other cities. I've spent it marching in parades. I've spent it watching parades. I've spent it ignoring the parade and instead wandering around the festival watching cute boys and performances at different Pride stages. I've spent it planting rose bushes at home and then heading out to the Castro. I've spent it at a Cyndi Lauper concert.
But this last Pride, I spent it acting like a teenage girl.
I stayed the entire day at the mainstage, from about 11:00am until the festival closed around 7:00. No, it wasn't because the Backstreet Boys were performing. In truth, I think booking the BSB as headliners was a terrible mistake, which I can discuss later.
I spent the entire day there because of Dangerous Muse, an indie-techno band from New York who were performing live in San Francisco for the very first time.
Initially, I was under the impression that Dangerous Muse was performing at 12:00 when the mainstage opened. I had also heard that there was going to be a flash mob in front of the mainstage around 11:30; I was hoping they wouldn't conflict. I arrived at Civic Center shortly after 11:00, which did give me the opportunity to see their soundcheck and tech rehearsal. You can check out my video of their tech rehearsal performance of "I Want It All" here (apologies for the poor sound and video -- it's just a simple pocket camera, after all):
Then around noon, the stage opened with Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS), including our friend Landa Lakes, providing a Native American blessing to open the performances. Then Ejector performed, a local band who was flush from the success of performing the soundtrack and title song to the new film Baby Jane? Hmmm. Things were not going according to plan. Then a straight-but-allied gospel band, introduced by Molly McKay of Marriage Equality, started to perform. Now I was starting to get annoyed.
At the end of gospel performance, the flash mob -- obviously planned by the mainstage organizers -- erupted. My video is less than adequate. I was trying to conserve my batteries and memory, unsure when Dangerous Muse would come on, so I opted to photograph the first part of the flash mob and video the very end. Also, since I was right up at the stage and the mob was using the stage as a backdrop, the performers are mostly turned away from me.
Okay, now we were ready for Dangerous Muse, right?
Apparently not. Now we were ready for all sorts of other performances. An amazing Alice in Wonderland-themed drag performance by Cockatelia. A cute but obscure indie band from New Mexico (or Arizona? who can remember?) called Hello Hollywood. A pre-recorded video address by Christina Aguilera, who could not be there in person. (WTF? Then why bother?) A performance by the woman who plays Elfaba in the San Francisco touring company's production of Wicked. The amazingly talented men and women of Cheer SF, joined by other Cheers from San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and more. A video address by my Congressional Representative, and our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
At this point, I was getting discouraged. I was checking my iPhone to look up the mainstage schedule, but my iPhone failed to keep a connection -- in part because it's just first generation phone, in part because there were probably at least 100,000 other iPhones in use in a two-block radius overwhelming the signal. I tried to check email but nothing was downloading for the same reason. (If I had, I would have seen Dangerous Muse's email blast telling fans they were coming on at around 5:20.)
I had been here for hours and thought it would be kind of stupid to stick around this long and then miss them. I assumed they were building up to a grand finish -- Dangerous Muse would eventually come on, followed by Andy Bell (formerly of Erasure) and then the Backstreet Boys. My plan was to duck out as soon as Dangerous Muse finished.
I had joked in a previous blog post that I didn't care about seeing the Backstreet Boys, and that they should be Dangerous Muse's warm-up band. Be careful what you wish for.
Around 4:00, the emcees kept hyping that the Backstreet Boys would be coming soon. Of course, they had hyped that all day. The emcees asked where their lesbians were. There were a few ragged shouts. They asked where their gay boys were. The shouts were only slightly louder. They asked where their underage straight teens were and the crowd went wild. Sigh. That's why I disapprove of the Backstreet Boys being the headliners. They drew a croud that wasn't there in solidarity with their LGBT friends. They were only there to enjoy a $5 BSB concert -- just like the radio ads promoting Pink Saturday turned that event from a fabulous neighborhood party into one that attracted a rough element uncomfortable with gays who were only there to get drunk and create problems, resulting in a death and two other gunshot injuries.
And then, around 4:20, suddenly the Backstreet Boys were onstage. And while I didn't plan to see them, and wouldn't have stayed if Dangerous Muse had already performed, I don't regret getting a chance to watch them live and up front. And I am glad they held up a sign supporting marriage equality. Take that, Maggie Gallagher! Here's are some highlights:
Of course, the Backstreet Boys had a concert to get ready for. They couldn't let their performance run up to 7:00. But when Dangerous Muse didn't immediately appear after the Backstreet Boys left the stage, I started to get resigned to the fact that they weren't going to be the opening act, they were going to be the closing act.
Andy Bell performed some of his own songs and some from his days in Erasure. Here's a video snippet:
Rose Royce, best known for their 70s hit "Car Wash," performed. Seriously, who am I going to have to cut? Okay, but it was cool to hear them perform it -- and on lead singer Rose Norwald's birthday, too. Some lesbians who had done music for The L Word performed who were really annoying to me, not because they sang about the proper way to finger a vagina (sigh), but because they sang hip-hop (not my cup of tea) and sang something like seven songs. I was beginning to worry that when Dangerous Muse finally got to perform, they'd be cut off because everyone else was running late.
Some chick from L.A., an aspiring dance club diva whom even the emcees all but admitted was a nobody, performed way too many songs. Then a Michael Jackson tribute band called Foreverland performed a 20 minute medley of Michael Jackson songs. Okay, they were kind of amazing.
And finally at around 6:27pm, it was time for Dangerous Muse (and my inner teenage girl's crush Mike Furey) to perform.
It was worth the wait. They performed "I Want It All" and then launched into "The Rejection," their biggest hit. I recorded it (again, apologies for my camera's crappy sound quality):
They did one more new song from their upcoming album and then, as I predicted, got cut off by the emcee before they had a chance to perform a fourth song. We were out of time.
I peeked around for them afterwards, hoping to get a photo, but I didn't see them. So I headed back to the Castro for a quick round at Toad Hall with friends and then went home for a bit of dinner, a 20 minute nap, and a fresh shower before heading out to The Cafe. Things can get a bit roudy in the Castro after the drunken masses have returned from the festival, but I didn't arrive until around 10:30 after the worst of the drunks had gone home.
Of course I introduced myself. He actually remembered my previous blogs and tweets about Dangerous Muse. (One friend later asked if he recognized me from the restraining order he had to take out. No!) And I got my photo!
You can see more of my San Francisco Pride 2010 photos on Flickr.
It wasn't the Pride I was expecting. I thought I'd see Dangerous Muse at the mainstage, wander around the booths for a bit, and then head back to the Castro by the mid-afternoon to hang out with my friends. Instead I got to see Dangerous Muse perform live, meet the lead singer, and see every single mainstage performance, most of which were really amazing.
Sometimes unexpected detours are totally worth it.