This years Outside Lands is not only my first music festival, but my first time on the west coast. So imagine my bewilderment upon entering Golden Gate Park yesterday. Surrounded by lush forestry, the parks central grounds had been transformed into a sanctuary of music, booze, and recreation. This place was alive, and Id never seen anything like it.
Now in its sixth year, Outside Lands has grown a little with each installment (attendance is now up to 65,000) and continues to offer a diverse lineup of big name acts and lesser-known upstarts. One could swing by the country-themed Panhandle Stage, sit on hay bails, and catch rock acts such as The Men and Wavves. Or if guitars werent your thing, maybe the soulful croons of Jessie Ware at the Sutro Stage (too bad DAngelo canceled at the last second). The Heineken Dome offered sweaty EDM, and The Barbary hosted comedians Maria Bamford and Jeffrey Ross. There really was a little something for everyone and, come nightfall, a truly special musical experience for all.
Anticipation for Sir Paul McCartneys headlining set grew throughout the afternoon, with multiple acts declaring their appreciation for the living legend. Were honored to be here, playing in front of Paul McCartney, said The National’s Aaron Dessner. A universal feeling of Holy shit, Im seeing a Beatle swept across the sea of bodies that had manifested in front of the stage, and when Paul finally walked out the sun setting behind him thousands of voices erupted in celebration.
Over the next three hours, he played the hits, told charming anecdotes, brought fans onstage and tattooed his autograph on them, even unleashing a pyrotechnic-firework show during Live and Let Die. It was magnificent. People were crying when it was over. This festival newbie headed home in total shock, every expectation shattered.
If that was Day One, I cant wait to see what the rest of the weekend has in store.
–Jon Hadusek Staff Writer
Surfer Blood steps up
Photo by Ted Maider
Playing the main stage at any festival has to be daunting. There’s always the possibility you’ll be entertaining around a thousand fans, only it’ll look like 100 souls showed up. This was the case for Surfer Blood, who did a great job shrugging off the curiously unfortunate image. In support of their long-awaited sophomore album, this past June’s Pythons, the Florida outfit kept things casual amidst the great wide open as they ran through their usual fun-loving set of indie surf pop. Frontman John Paul Pitts never bucked once, even managing to do his ol’ meet and greet with the crowd during “Take It Easy”. Kickoffs don’t get much better than this. –Ted Maider
Wild Belle’s Natalie Bergmen brings her Chicago sound system to the Bay
Photo by Joshua Mellin
Friday afternoon, Eliot Bergmen, brother of Natalie, asked us to extend our gratitudes toward the blonde Wild Belle frontwoman for lugging their new sound system all the way from Chicago to Outside Lands’ home in San Francisco. We of course obliged, noticing that Lady Bergmen did indeed look extra-thrilled to be rolling through the majority of this year’s Isles post road trip. Her seemingly effortless vocals sailed over the band’s undeniable, Jamaican-tinged flavor that exquisitely flowed through the cool California afternoon (which provided an excess of breeze that caused Natalie to lose her ’70s-ensemble-completing hat to the wind about a song in). –Amanda Koellner
Kronos Quartet cleans house
Photo by Ted Maider
Diehard fans of The National might have recognized the Kronos Quartet from their appearance alongside them on the 2009 fundraising compilation album Dark Was the Night, or perhaps from their recent collaborations with Bryce Dessner. So their cameo backing up a handful of cuts of The Nationals blistering set made for a nice bonus for everyone involved (and a one-up of their Lollapalooza set last weekend), but most of all for Kronos, who got to dip into The Nationals stacked audience. But they werent done racking up new fans on Friday not even close. Thousands more would learn their name by the end of the night, after another appearance on the Lands End Stage to provide strings on Paul McCartneys first song of his last encore, Yesterday. –Steven Arroyo