The names of the Alcatraz prison complexs more famous guests roll off the tip of the tongue: Al "Scarface" Capone; George
"Machine Gun" Kelly; and Robert Stroud, the so-called "Birdman of Alcatraz."
Now, add Jakob Dylan to the list.
On a typically cold, windy San Francisco evening, "T-Mobile Rocks the Rock" -- the first outdoor concert ever to grace
the shores of Alcatraz Island -- drew more than 1,000 rock fans and tech-savvy entrepreneurs from around the U.S. to the same
grounds that once provided a home to some of America's most notorious criminals.
The former penitentiary, now a historical landmark that serves as one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular
tourist destinations, was, on Thursday night, covered in banners saluting the nationwide success of T-Mobile's cellular empire
and decked out for a party complete with all-you-can-eat buffets, open bars and MTV luminaries like the Wallflowers (led by
Dylan, the heir apparent to his legendary father, Bob) and Creed.
Indeed, the Rock was ready for a rockin' celebration of art -- for publicity's sake, that is.
That much became evident the day before the show, when Creed frontman Scott Stapp and his band of tattooed pranksters attempted
to escape from their Alcatraz commitment. Stapp, known as much for his pseudo-Christian lyrics and his russet mane as his
pleading, impassioned vocals, was diagnosed with acute laryngitis, forcing the tentative cancellation of several dates on
the quartet's upcoming tour -- including their historic visit to the Rock.
Undeterred, the cellular gods wasted no time in replacing Hip Young Band A with Hip Young Band B, as Dylan's Wallflowers
came to the 11th-hour rescue and assumed headlining duties.
As luck would have it, the promoters got their cake and ate it too -- along with the thousands of hot dogs, shish kabobs
and ice cream bars they shared with hungry concertgoers -- as Stapp opted to take the stage for an abbreviated set that included
raucous versions of Creed's biggest hits ("Higher," "My Sacrifice") and enough fist-pumping guitar solos to send fans into
a frenzy. (Though he struggled to harmonize with lead guitarist Mark Tremonti on a shaky version of "My Own Prison," Stapp's
vocals remained strong throughout the 45-minute affair. Chalk it up to divine intervention.)
The Wallflowers kicked off the show with an hourlong set of fan favorites ("One Headlight") and classic covers (David Bowie's
"Heroes," Elvis Costello's ("Whats So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding"), serving up a laidback performance as most
in attendance struggled to tear themselves away from the food stands.
Ascending from a sea of black leather jackets, wooly fleeces (complimentary to all guests) and tight jeans, the band took
the stage promptly at 7:45, set against the picturesque background of the San Francisco skyline. Peering across the half-empty
sea of lawn chairs in front of the stage to the famous fog light that once guided prisoners to their steely cells, Dylan wryly
acknowledge the import of the moment.
"We're the first band to play Alcatraz," he said. "That means you're the first audience. The first free audience, anyway.
The good thing is, we get to go home afterward." -- Rossiter Drake