Outside Lands Festival Report

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Outside Lands

Entering the forest through the labyrinthine rent-a-fences and along those pre-existing trails parallel to Fulton Street we marched. With what seemed like an extra 638,397 plus people than in previous years. Troves of Technicolor plastic sunglasses frames piled into Hellman Hollow for a stunning performance from The Men that transformed college set into rock and roll PHD professors. WAVVES brought the stoner dumb, Band of Horses and The National brought out the big-stream fanatics to Polo Field, then Yeasayer taught us yet again to stick up for ourselves, Chromatics brought the Johnny Jewel synth-extravaganza, Pretty Lights dazzled all with a light show while atop a massive platform.

But this brought us to the main attraction of the evening; a night at the Land’s End Stage with the one and only, Sir Paul McCartney. So what else does a former-Beatle/Wings frontman to do but knock out some 39 songs. It began with “Eight Days a Week”, that rang throughout the entirety of Golden Gate Park and the entire 7 x 7 square miles of San Francisco. Looking somewhere between his forties or fifties, an impressive Macca brought the “Magical Mystery Tour” with those post-fab four detour faves like “Listen To What the Man Says”, an amazed rendering of “Maybe I’m Amazed”, the Rubber Soul solid gold easy action of “I’ve Just Seen a Face”, a bit of Bay blues via “San Francisco Bay Blues”, the softer sides from “Another Day”, through “And I Lover Her”, White Album whistler “Blackbird”, the vaudeville shtick of “Your Mother Should Know”-“Lady Modonna”-“All Together Now”-“Lovely Rita”-“ Mrs. Vandebilt”-“Eleanor Rigby” and the like. A tad bit of the psych-lite weird was brought a la “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, the romanticism of “Something”, the nonsensical energy of “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” brought on the big heavies of “Band On the Run”, taking further flight from “Back in the USSR” to the pyrotechnics of “Live and Let Die”, all the na-na-na-na(s) you could handle with “Hey Jude” before the encore brought the daytripping “Get Back”, the pause of “Yesterday”, upping that energy ante for “Helter Skelter” before coursing through the closing scores from the end of Abbey Road’s side B; leaving us to carry that weight of finding an available MUNI through our heavy-lidded golden slumber-slog out of the park.

For more Day 1 photos go here.

Day 2

We return again to the park, hitting the gates, getting the whole TSA-like inspection treatment, and off to the musical corners of Golden Gate Park. On the Land’s End stage in Polo Field, Gary Clark Jr. brought his scope of Delta blues with an old meets new world Americana approach. It was moments like this that made me understand why Mick and Keef and many others have been so taken by his guitar prowess that is steeped in the Southern style that created the quintessential classic American r n’ r sound. The Panhandle brought us the talent of James McCartney, the wondrous bughouse of Youth Lagoon, to the Sutro Stage’s presentation of surf enthusiasts, The Growlers. The Costa Mesa beach boogie lead by Brooks Nielsen was a highlight of the day, where grassy hilled conversations over Portuguese vinho verdes lead us back to Polo Field for an invigorating performance from Jurassic 5. Jams like “Freedom” gave a memorial show of hands toasting Oscar Grant, “What’s Golden”, “A Day at the Races” and a scratch-master showdown between Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs ran a gamut from “Art Star” through “Heads Will Roll” where Karen O displayed the reasons why we loved YYYs then, and now. In some ways it reminded us why we love and salute our heroes, as a crowd exodus made their way to Twin Peaks to catch Phoenix’s massive performance. But keeping the nostalgia alive, Nine Inch Nails brought a light display of shadows and jagged lights where Trent Reznor’s run through of Nothing/TVT era highlights had us listeners rolling the words, and themes of alienation, discontinuities and inequities of the internal and irreconcilable still resonating. While we were hoping for “Mr. Self-Destruct” and maybe some “Happiness in Slavery”, we were pretty pumped on the energy of “Burn”, “Terrible Lie” to the eerie burners of “Hurt” and “Something I Can Never Have”. And with that we made our way into the dark of night and disappeared in the ether of the amassing fog.

For more Day 2 photos go here.

Day 3

We return to the Golden Gate forest, on an early foggy Sunday afternoon. We arrived in time to catch Camper Van Beethoven bring their new single “Northern California Girls”, giving a helping of Nor-Cal-gnar and sunshine pop from Redlands’ indie hero old school. Keeping the afternoon twirling and turning was Fishbone’s apocalyptic horn skank of “Party at Ground Zero”, before we headed over to catch power-slacker-rock of Kurt Vile and the Violators giving some serious foggy headed vibes to Lindley Meadow. Rudimental kept it rudimentary with feeling on “Feel the Love” and “Waiting All Night” with Becky Hill and Sinead Harnett , before Foals cut through the crowd and crackled with mathematical chords that provoked some of festival goers to bro out with exclamations of, ‘Foals killed it!’ Emeli Sandé brought some of those piano toned pop gospel tinged life lift ups with “Next To Me”, before Hall & Oates brought us back to our yacht rock sailing youths with the hit parade highlights of “Out of Touch”, “Maneater”, “She’s Gone”, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”, and more. Vampire Weekend gave us our cue to go check out Willie Nelson & Family where the songwriter-outlaw-genius wowed us with those chalice and lamp lighting vocals that had this writer crying my eyes out to “Always On My Mind”. Keeping the family values intact, Willie’s 2 sons provided support, and made us smile while singing c/w standards like, “Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”.

Riding the second hand smoke wafts (or maybe it was the background beats coming from Kaskade on the Twin Peaks stag), we returned to the Land’s End stage for festival closers; none other than those Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea kept us entertained as we winced our way through “Dani California”, while Anthony Kiedis quipped about “borrowing Oates’ mustache on a lease”, and kept their So-Cal-dad-bro funk rock kicking around to the closer of “Give It Away Now”. And while we hummed “Under the Bridge” to ourselves, we found ourselves en route to relish our thoughts on a weekend-blast-from the musical gates of the past; courtesy of Golden Gate Park, and all the good people who make Outside Lands possible.

More Day 3 photos coming Monday.