Outside Lands holds a great drawing energy to it every year, each time around evolving more into an odd carnival of sorts. Tucked away in the forest of Golden Gate Park, I’ve found each year here har
d to describe. It still remains that festival that everyone from LA is cool driving\flying to. It’s so worth it that you take the extra hour and an half on the 101 after work the Thursday before, just to see the blazing sunsets of California August.
Many agree that its a place that you feel completely comfortable walking around alone, to discover the vast offerings laid before you. It’s not bad to have a legit den to set up shop next to the main stage either to provide wide shots for you lovely people either.
I started the fest with The Heavy, a Neo Soul Rock band from England with a strong set of albums you should get to know. Smart move on the festivals part, as every early act on just about ever stage that played early brought the ruckus. Their song ‘How You Like Me Now?’ I consider it their like-this-song-or-their-not-for-you track.
Everything about Jessie Ware was pretty fly. From the on-point band to the hammer pants she proudly rocked. What I appreciate most was the confirmation her live show sounding even better than the album.
I can’t decide whether or not Chic was my favorite act of the festival was Chic or not. Chic reminds me of my childhood with my parents playing music from from a few decades too early. When Nile Rogers took the stage and kicked the set off, people quickly realized he was more than the guitarist on the new Daft Punk album.
Swiftly moving through all the classics of Chic fame, even Bowie got love with the Rogers-produced ‘Let’s Dance’ on the menu. Both Jessie Ware and the members of The Heavy stuck around for the stage closing dance party Nile held on stage.
Every time I’ve had the chance to enjoy The Pretty Lights, the live show becomes increasing profound. This time around, the first ten rows ( I was no where near that close) had the opportunity to sync the Outside Lands sub-app Wham City, and participate in the light show. Hanging around his set was one of the best decisions of the weekend.
Making my way through the various food lands, Choco Lands played host to a small stage tucked away between vendors. This same stage was the one Jack White graced last year with with his all female band in secret. The alcove tucked away in the trees makes for a comfortable, small scale atmosphere.
Of course Paul McCartney was a beast of a performer, running from piano, to bass, to various guitars and more in festive spirit. The cheers from the finale may have been the loudest point of the entire weekend.
Young the Giant kicked off day two, with perfect weather and high spirits abound.
I was tipped off by concert photographer Scott Dudelson to check out Bombino. From Agadez, Niger, his Tuareg storytelling makes you want to drive long stretches of road on a mission. Dan Auberback of The Black Keys produced his recent album, Nomad.
Costumes played a big part in festival aesthetic as usual. The Christmas sweater may win though.
Artists like Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs keep it weird, speaking of interesting costumes. I’ve seen YYY’s live several times before, but this was my first time having the chance to photograph Karen and crew. The always dark and mysterious Nick Zinner was all business, and of course shredded through the set like Shinobi. Brian Chase hardly seemed able to contain his love for the energy of his environs, and it made for a hell of a set to photograph. Karen, as always, connects with the crowd in a way that few bands can. Clad in the garb of some futuristic she-Pope, she performed her sacrilege well.
Grizzly Bear took the stage with perfect timing; the mist sweeping through the alcove of trees. Singer Ed Droste tried to keep from smiling the entire set, as he knew the scene they painted was great as much as the crowd did.
It’s great to see Willie Nelson bring such a heavy younger crowd to attention in Outside Lands. It’s likely the weed rebel aspect they love, but either way, there something about seeing his tattered guitar that’s seen more of the world than you’ve ever dreamed that makes you respect the man.
Hall and Oates – It was only right to stay and hang with Hall and Oates, after seeing how badass of a show Live from Daryl’s House is (one of the best shows on cable). Hall and Oates remain in the camp of legacy musicians that can still easily hold their own, while attuning to the modern music era.
Apparently ladies go apeshit over Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend.
I was afraid I’d missed my shot at seeing Nine Inch Nails on the most recent hiatus. Trent Reznor is not just a musical visionary, but he really did turn it up another notch on his sharp visuals on the stage.
One of the best low key placement moves in the Oustide Lands lineup was placing Fishbone at the head end of Sunday. On the tail end, their long time friends Red Hot Chili Peppers close the night out. Not a bad homie hallmark.
Matt and Kim – The momentum from Matt and Kim will never die I’ve realized. Cutting in Pour It Up by Rihanna inbetween songs, jumping up on equipment, and initiating large scale crowd surfing is still in the Matt and Kim mandate.
A bucket list band was checked off at Outside Lands. Red Hot Chili Peppers almost never play in the states, so I had to take advantage. All my favorites were sang along too until hoarse voice, and when Flea did his norm of thanking the crowd, every person in the crowd felt the same thing. The same thing about the Chili Peppers and the same thing about Outside Lands : No, thank you.
I don’t know how they keep doing it, but the folks over at Big Hassle keep putting together some of the most memorable moments in live music history, year after year. Outside Lands remains open really to what you make out of it. If you want to get crazy and crowdsurf a quarter mile, or if you want to sleep in peace on the meadow, you will have quite the soundtrack indeed.
Until next year my friends,