Day two of Outside Lands in San Francisco on Sunday, August 15 brought a noticeably different crowd to Golden Gate Park. It’s hard to pin down what exactly a bro-y vibe is, but when you feel it, you know it. It was as if I could read the thoughts of the people next to me, and they were thinking “god I can’t wait to see them play ‘Sex on Fire.'” I tried not to let that alter my outlook for the day, but I have to say, it was hard. The first band I caught was Mayer Hawthorne & The County, a crooner with a strong band behind him. I was interested for a while, but if you’re not a big fan, one song really sounds the same as the next. So I walked on down to The Temper Trap. I spent the next 15 minutes or so wondering why in the hell there was such a big crowd gathered to see this band play boring mellow pop. Finally I chalked it up to people having already staked out their spots for the big bands later, and I left, annoyed at every second I could still hear them playing.
Soon I found myself on the other side of the park, to see Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Some call Edward Sharpe front man, and former Ima Robot, Alex Ebert, a trend hopper. Be that as it may, Edward Sharpe is down right fun. The stage was crowded with all the members of the band, but not as crowded as the audience, many of whom couldn’t help but to dance.
Later on, while making every excuse to be nowhere near the Slightly Stoopid show, I got to catch a special stripped down performance by Janelle Monae in the Chase Freedom tent. I assume by now, that most have heard her first single “Tightrope”, featuring Big Boi of Outkast. But you’re missing out if you don’t check out her other work. She has one of those rare voices, especially live. The finale of this exclusive show was a soulful version of “Cold War”, that brought Monae herself to the edge of tears.
Soon after, I had to muddle through the sea of people back across the park to catch Phoenix, who I had been dying to see live. Unfortunately, the ridiculous crowd of bro-bras made it impossible to get anywhere near the stage. I was disappointed, but I could still hear them, and they were good. Although it seems pretty clear these days that the Frenchmen need a break. Singer Thomas Mars told the crowd this would be the band’s last show in San Francisco for a long time.
The next destination for me was Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Nas is one of the best rappers alive, Damian Marley is a proven reggae star, and their collaboration sounds pretty damn good on record. Unfortunately the crowd of pseudo hippies were t0o enamored with the concept of smoking pot incesently for there to be any meaning to the music whatsoever.
And finally came the time that so many it seems, were waiting for. Arguably the biggest band in the world right now: Kings of Leon took the stage with smug looks on their faces. For the next hour or so, they proceeded to play songs from their last two albums, “Because of the Times,” and “Only By The Night,” along with some new songs that were pretty much indistinguishable from the others. The Followills looked like they didn’t really care. They’ve played all those songs so many times before, they could do it in their sleep and it showed. I have never seen a “rock” band do less on stage. The only interesting part for me was a cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind.” The interest quickly wore off however, and I had to go to the other side of the park to catch an act I hoped wouldn’t disappoint me.
Empire Of The Sun, the Australian electro pop band, who for many years didn’t play live has finally brought their spectacle performance to the public. There were crazy lights, awesome music, over the top theatrics and all the swordfish women/pyramid men/strange costumes you could want. At times the show got a little ridiculous, like when they brought out a wheel-chair-Lady-Gaga-style. But for the most part, Empire Of The Sun saved the second day Outside Lands for me.
Mayer Hawthorne & The County
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