Outside Lands Festival capped off what has easily been the best festival season of my SUPERGOOD career. While there are actually a few local (Sunset Strip Music Festival, Sunset Junction) and a few more destination (North Coast Music Festival, De Luna Music Festival or Treasure Island Festival, VooDoo Fest) – after the huge Deadmau5 and Arcade Fire closing sets, it may as well have been the end because I’m satisfied.
Exiting to people’s claims of “receiving their money’s worth,” I can only confirm why they might have felt that way.
From the opening day’s very first acts – New Orelans Klezmer Allstars, Release The Sunbird, Marky and Arann Harris & The Farm Band each who started at noon on Friday (my personal first was Phantogram) to the final note of Arcade Fire – there was a little sample of almost every musical genre and a concentration on all flavors of rock and roll. As far as rock goes – Outside Lands really brought the heat this year with Grammy award winning Arcade Fire, Muse, Phish, The Shins, The Black Keys, The Decemberists, Arctic Monkeys, Beirut, OK Go, Warren Haynes Band and more.
With only few disappointments (Big Boi did not really perform due to technical difficulty; I missed K. Flay, Charles Bradley and Tune-Yards) and lots of high lights – the 4th Outside Lands and the return to a three-day festival was a big success in my opinion. Given that the event pretty much sold out - I’d say it was a success by the organizer’s standards too.
After a 24 hour decompression here are a few takeaways:
· The Stone Foxes are the next Black Keys. While the San Francisco based quartet are noticeably and understandably different, they both embrace the same bad ass bluesy and gritty rock and roll. No wonder both of their music has been on Sons of Anarchy and they’ve already played a show together in Arizona. I can only hope that trend continues and they are doing a run f dates together. Sign me up for a spot trailing that tour. With some attendees claiming the Foxes Saturday afternoon throwdown as the best show of the festival, they might be willing to join that caravan too. For the uninitiated I’d definitely advise checking out the free download of their song “Psycho” on their website and hit up El Cid on August 28th when they close out Sunset Junction. Its part of the package for Junction attendees, but I think access can also be purchased separately.
· People on the lawn in San Francisco can really get down to some funk music, the people in the press tent…not so much. The Original Meters and The Greyboy Allstars turned out good sets on the mainstage and Phish dropped a version of “Funky Bitch” as well as “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove.” Sunday didn’t have as much funky music – although I missed Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band, whom I’m guessing held it down.
· Phish isn’t slowing down. They didn’t blow my socks off – but I wouldn’t be sad to see them again either. While I’m certainly no roadie or a Phishhead – the guys can certainly still play “Rock and Roll” in their elder (and sober?) state. With a substantial catalogue to choose from, they managed to play some new songs I’m definitely not familiar with as well as a half dozen covers (“2001”, “Roses Are Free”, “Rock and Roll”, “Peaches En Regalia” “Life on Mars?” and “Funky Bitch”) and fan favorites (“Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove” and “Tweezer”).
· The Roots should put out an album called “Greatest Wedding Band of All Time” and do all covers that people love to get down to. They docovers at their concerts – it used to be hip-hop medleys, but now it has turned into full blown rock and roll, funk and hip-hop covers. I was particularly impressed with their rendition of Gil Scott Heron’s “The Bottle.” No disrespect – they are amazing at doing it, but they are also an exceptional band and also have their own great original material. Nonetheless, they get the biggest rise from the crowd doing covers and “Here I Come” – the Jimmy Fallon theme song. The covers seemed to get even more fan fare than “If You Got Me”, the groups biggest hit to date. All that said, despite crushing other people’s songs sometimes better than the originals themselves, they are much more than the greatest wedding band of all time. Bonus – someone whipped out one of the parachutes we all used to played with in phys ed class in kindergarten and 1st grade
· Watching Girl Talk and the crowd at Girl Talk is fun…being in the middle of a Girl Talk crowd is a recipe for getting touched by strangers. It is really cool to look over a crowd from a perch (which you can find at OLF) and see how certain songs resonate (or don’t) with a majority of the crowd. A surprisingly popular drop was “Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
· Erykah Badu is a force. Her energy pulled me away from Phish and I was sad I hadn’t seen more of her set. Her voice is beautiful, her band was kicking it and her soul is undeniable.
* Big Boi not playing was disappointing – but Dave Chapelle appearing and doing some comedy was DOPE.
* Big Hassle does a great job coordinating press and providing for a good experience for people covering the festival.
* Deadmau5 new cubes are a new experience. Don’t miss his tour!