Day two of Outside Lands began like many mornings in San Francisco, foggy. There was a chill in the damp air as I pulled my jacket snugly around my shoulders and made my way into Golden Gate Park for a marathon day of music. Rumor had it that thousands more fans would be flocking in to see the lineup that would be ending with The Black Keys pitted against Kendrick Lamar. That being said the entire lineup, from small print to the headliners, was solid and I wanted to get there to see as much as possible. Like most festivals, the early afternoon acts are sparse as people are likely recovering from their day before antics. It’s why it’s my favorite time to be at a festival because you afforded a more intimate encounter with both the acts and the festival as a whole, getting a feel for the lay of the land. Over the past eight years Outside Lands has really done a good job of creating a unique festival that captures the uniqueness of the city and the way they create a community atmosphere around music, food, beer and wine.
First up was Hurray for the Riff Raff waking up Sutro stage.
Front-woman, singer and writer for Hurray for the Riff Raff, Alynda took the stage casually saying, “I used to sleep in this park when I was a runaway kid.” She then launched into a set of some of the best folk Americana out at the moment. Alynda is comfortable on stage focused on the music and seems happiest when lost in a jam with her band. Though the music is peaceful it is by no means reserved. Alynda is not afraid to make a statement. “This one is for everyone out there fighting for their right to live and walk down the street and not get shot down.” She then played one of their more political songs—“The Body Electric”—a clear stance against gun violence that is ripping through our country. Hurray for the Riff Raff set a tone of unapologetic do-it-like-we-want tone for the day.
Misterwives opened up the Lands End stage and Polo Field with a dance party.
The energy from this much loved Grimy Goods band is powerful. Singer Mandy Lee is a tornado of positivity that whipped the crowd into a frenzy of a party. On stage she DOES NOT stop! Dancing, running, jumping, and even doing pushups she is unstoppable. In many ways she reminds me of the early days of No Doubt and the way that young Gwen Steffani would own the stage with her powerful raw energy of youth, feminitey and hope. Small in stature her voice is forceful and unique that stands apart from the oversaturated pop scene. Misterwives won the crowd over with a cover of “Uptown Funk” and it was clear the day was truly off to the races.
This was my first year at Outsidelands and I could not get over the beauty of the grounds.
Yes, everything you’ve heard about being in Golden Gate park is true, it is one of the crown jewels of The City. I decided to take a walk through McLaren Pass, which is a meandering and winding trail through a thick grove of trees in the middle of the festival grounds. The sound of the stages trickles through the towering trees as a muffled sigh. In the grove you find a different kind of energy from the meadow and pollo fields. It’s part off beat foodie paradise and part Narnia. We all know that people have their “festival outfits” giving themselves over to a character for the weekend. Here at OSL there were a lot of animals. Not just a headband with ears, but rather full suits of furry creatures of all kinds. One bro proudly wore a faux bear fur with attached head and teeth, others were wearing antlers or horns. All these magical creatures congregated in the forest on McLaren Pass. After taking in the Narnia scene I followed the path to the farthest end of the festival grounds at the Twin Peaks stage.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra served up a soundtrack for lunch.
Walking out from the shade of the tree canopy and into the light of Hellman Hollow I could hear the groove of Unknown Mortal Orchestra pumping on the Twin Peaks stage. Fans were around the stage, but even more were sitting on the hillsides that were flanking the stage. Most were eating, drinking and enjoying the electric sounds of UMO. I sat down on my own plot of grass and reveled in the sounds of my favorite tunes like “So Good at Being in Trouble” and “Multi-Love.” What I didn’t expect was his extended ripping guitar solos and drum solos. It gave the music an edge that set him apart from the time sensitive sets at festivals.
Where’s Fantastic Negrito?
Maybe one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend was Fantastic Negrito, winner of the Tiny Desk concert at NPR. When the stage was set up with flowers and the “Next Up” sign oddly read “Hahaha” everyone turned to one another knowing that something wasn’t right. Then five guys took the stage to deliver the bad news that Fantastic Negrito was not playing but they would fill in. They were a “Christian a cappella group” aka five comedians about to mock Christian boy bands. They were a riot, but they were no substitute for Fantastic Negrito. Word traveled fast as to why Negrito was a no-show. Apparently, he and two of his crew were detained by SFPD for selling an artist badge to the festival on Craigslist. This is a major no-no. One of his interns admitted to attempting to sell the artist armband and Nergito was unaware of this transaction. Still, Outside Lands decided that Fantastic Negrito would NOT be playing the fest. You can read the full story here.
Billy Idol still has frosted tips.
For many of us old enough to remember the 80’s we remember that Billy Idol was a god then. His songs conjure up images of spandex, blue eye shadow and big hair. I eagerly awaited for Idol to showcase the hits that we love, because lets admit, that’s why we are all there. We want to loose ourselves in the music and dance. Clad in a long black trench coat and his signature platinum blonde hair, Idol was slow to deliver the hits. When he finally played “Dancing With Myself” the crowd about lost their minds. Back where I was EVERYONE was doing their best 80’s bop jazzercise dance moves. But instead of sticking to the well known hits he rolled to something unknown to most of us and the energy fell flat. It was time to see what else we could find.
The impossibility of Milky Chance.
Hoping to find the dance party we were craving we headed back to the meadow to check out the folky reggae duo Milky Chance. By the time we managed our way through the crowd on the pathways the crush of people had reached claustrophobia level 100. Saying the meadow was packed is an understatement, it was truly a sea of bodies with hardly a patch of grass to plant your two feet on. The stage doesn’t have big screens to broadcast the acts so it was impossible to see a thing. In addition the thunder of drunk fans talking, eating and drinking drowned out any possibility of getting into the music. It’s a bummer because Milky Chance would have been dope to see.
Parking it at Lands End Stage for Tame Impala and The Black Keys.
Tame Impala is at the forefront of much of the indie world’s mind with the release of their album Currents this month. It’s in the same vein of their last, dreamy and smooth psychedelic sound. The young indie hipsters were out in full force hoping to catch a drop of blood from their favorite Aussies. The current of tripy psychedelic waves and the light effects of spirals and geometric shapes dancing in the background kept the crowd entranced and wanting more.
Keeping our spot on the Polo field my crew and I waited it out through the stage change to hear the headliner The Black Keys. The long and short of it is, they killed it. Oddly enough we had found the dance party that we were looking for all day during The Black Keys’ set. The entire crowd moved and swayed with every word. When you bring in a band that is so popular and has reached a level of radio play and stardom like The Black Keys, everyone is going to be familiar with the songs. That familiarity breeds a cohesive bonding that brings community of strangers smiling and hugging and singing every word to “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Lonely Boy,” and my favorite “Howlin’ for You.” To be honest, most of the time I was lost in my own high of getting to see The Black Keys for the first time that I didn’t pay much attention to exactly what was going on the stage. The few times I did look back to the screens flanking the stage all I saw was Auerbach and Carney drenched in sweat—singing playing a tight set that kept most of the crowd there until the last song.
Though the day started out cold it ended with a warmth that only the community of music can bring.
Words: Anne-Marie Schiefer
Photography: Tom Dellinger
Want more photos from day two of Outside Lands 2015? Check out the photo gallery below!