There is something both thrilling and daunting about sharing a space with thousands of people and a dozen different bands playing at any given time.
This is what makes Outside Lands a spectator sport. After awhile, taking in the sheer volume of people while contemporaneously navigating them becomes laughable. It’s bewildering that anyone even a little tipsy could traverse the chaotic crowds of the musical festival, or perhaps you need to be a little drunk to efficiently weave through the serpentine sea of people.
If you’ve never attended Outside Lands, know this: overwhelming is an understatement. And attempting to optimally see, hear, taste and smell everything is futile.
With ears ringing and energy waning, here are the highlights from another crowded, dusty day at the office.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Fantastic Negrito As fans lined up to see the Oakland blues singer, an alert from the band’s Twitter announced his set was cancelled due to an intern trying to scalp a wristband on Craigslist. This consequently led to the musician’s arrest and detainment, with a statement on Twitter to deliver a free concert on the steps of SFPD.
Billy Idol There was something both nostalgic and nuanced about Idol’s set. It’s admirable to see a musician who has been taking stages since before I was born efficiently captivate a modern crowd. The classic rocker, who has been cranking out tunes since the late ‘70s, ran on stage as guitar riffs and excited cheers began to crescendo and apex into 1982’s infectious “Dancing With Myself,” which caused a frenetic quake of sporadic dancing throughout the festival grounds.
M. Lockwood Porter West of Wine Lands is a secret stage — so hush-hush it’s not even on the official Outside Lands map. In fact, I wouldn’t have even discovered it if I wasn’t looking for a quiet corner of the festival to take a breather. Here lies the BandWagon Presidio stage, and it’s actually more of a wagon than a stage. Decked out like an old school camper van, the BandWagon evokes a cozy, retro vibe. I was fortunate enough to catch Berkeley-based Americana musician M. Lockwood Porter, whose raspy, Dylan-esque vocals and bluegrass instrumentals fit the scene perfectly.
Tame Impala You know when you look at a bright light for a long time, close your eyes and suddenly see spirals of color on your eyelids? That’s what seeing Tame Impala live feels like. At times, the psychedelic rock band from Perth, Australia is reminiscent of Daft Punk, MGMT and Animal Collective. Marked by distorted guitars, fuzzy vocals, drifting melodies and captivating visuals, Tame Impala’s live show was nothing short of transfixing.
Kendrick Lamar Lamar’s music is both blithe and blisteringly introspective. And even on a stage in front of thousands of people, he’s not bashful about it. The few live hip-hop shows I’ve seen — though entertaining —seemed to all have one thing in common: it was just a dude standing on stage spitting into a microphone. Besides a resplendent video backdrop, Lamar was also accompanied by a live band, proving not only that his vibe can’t be killed, it’s versatile too.