Outside Lands Music Festival, Golden Gate Park
Last weekend I attended the three-day Outside Lands Music Festival held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. I don’t go see as much live music as I did in my younger days (e.g., 25 Phish shows during the mid to late ’90s thank you very much) so I saw more live music in these three days than the whole last year combined (which is a little sad).
On Friday, we headed to the main stage and caught the UK reggae band Steel Pulse followed by the highly energetic Manu Chao. The headliner on this stage Friday night was Radiohead. I’ve grown to like their music more and more over the years but until Friday had never seen them live. I was completely blown away … these guys are absolutely mesmerizing. I loved it.
We spent most of Saturday camped out at one of the several ‘side’ stages and watched the bluegrassy/folky (with Chinese flavor) music of Abigail Washburn (w/ Bela Fleck), followed by the highly entertaining Devendra Banhart. Before his set was done, I headed over to the main stage to catch most of the New Orleans funk band Galactic (featuring horns from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Cyril Neville on vocals). I made it back to our spot on the other stage to see Regina Spektor. The quirky and endlessly fun Cake followed and then we topped it off with a little bit of Tom Petty on the way out.
Sunday was my favorite day of the whole weekend. We got their early and camped out at the ‘Twin Peaks’ stage the whole day. I also brought my camera that day. Here are some photographs from Sunday with descriptions below the photo.
I thought the organizers of the festival did a great job in terms of layout and other logistics. There’s always something to complain about when you put so many people in a relatively small space, but all-in-all it was good (I’ve been to much worse). Golden Gate Park has many lawn areas that are separated by beautiful groves of trees, so there was some ‘bottle-necking’ trying to get between, but I’m not sure how they could’ve avoided that unless they cut down trees.
The first act of the day on the ‘Twin Peaks’ stage was San Francisco’s own ALO. These guys were funky and jammy … I loved it, a great way to start off the day.
Next up was the Canadian indie/pop band Stars. These guys weren’t quite my cup of tea, but entertaining nonetheless.
One of my favorite sets of the whole weekend was Andrew Bird. Not only does can this guy play any instrument (including virtuoso whistling skills), his music is interesting and entertaining. He and the drummer made great use of technology by recording themselves on the fly, looping it, and then playing complementary phrases over it. Sometimes that technique can be obtrusive but they did it very well.
The Canadian indie-rock supergroup Broken Social Scene was up next and they rocked! This was another band I’ve heard of but never saw live. Fantastic live show. At one point there seemed to be about 10 people up on stage but the music never got chaotic (like I’ve seen happen with giant groups like that).
Last up on this stage for the day was one of my favorites, Wilco. I have seen these guys a few times and listen to them all the time. In my opinion, they are one of America’s best rock bands right now (the Beatles of our time?). It got a lot more crowded for this set and this photo of songwriter and band leader, Jeff Tweedy, between a bunch of heads was the best I could get. They played a great set as the sun set on the park, including a lot of my favorites (e.g., ‘California Stars’, ‘Hate It Here’, ‘Jesus, etc.’, and ‘Hummingbird’).
It’s been almost a week since this festival ended and now I’m feeling some live music withdrawal … I’m gonna have to fix that soon.