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Review & Photos: Outside Lands 2012, San Francisco

Review & Photos: Outside Lands 2012, San Francisco

Posted by: on Aug 18, 2012 | Comments (1)

All photos: David Korman

For a full slideshow of bands at Outside Lands, click here.

For a full slideshow of people and fashions at Outside Lands, click here.

Outside Lands is too crowded, Outside Lands is too expensive, Outside Lands shot their wad on big-name headliners—I’ve heard these complaints and more about the festival from fans, and yet it still completely sold out this year, all three days. The neighbors? Their complaint is that it’s too loud, and yet Metallica played.

At this years’ Outside Lands more than ever, it was evident that San Francisco has a banner festival not unlike Bumbershoot or Bonnaroo. It was in the air Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Golden Gate Park, this shift in emphasis. The first few years of Outside Lands were all about the music, but Outside Lands is an experience now, a thing you and all your friends go to, a water-cooler discussion, an Instagram feeding frenzy. Someday, Another Planet Entertainment may be able to sell it out without even announcing the lineup, and when that day comes, I will be baffled, but not surprised.

Out of the 65 acts, including a lot of worthy feel-good nostalgia (Metallica, replete with 30-ft.-high pyrotechnics, played almost all songs from 1991 and earlier), here are five in particular that had an impact.

Let's Guess the 2010 Outside Lands Lineup: Phoenix, My Morning Jacket, Furthur, Al Green, Social Distortion, The Strokes, Levon Helm, Bassnectar, Cat Power, more

Posted by: on May 6, 2010 | Comments (46)

I just noticed that the Outside Lands Twitter page has been dropping hints all day about the lineup for the 2010 Outside Lands festival this year, running August 14-15 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

It’s essentially an early lineup announcement—the clues aren’t that hard. Let’s figure them out.

1. Louisville, KY: “Ranger Dave’s winter hibernation is now over.”

Obviously My Morning Jacket, who were inactive all this past winter. Plus, not too many other festival-type bands from Louisville.

2. Fort Collins, CO: “Ranger Dave will be serving white russians.”

I’m thinking this is Devotchka, from Colorado with a Russian name. Update: The clue for Fort Collins is actually “Ranger Dave loves feasting on big city burritos in the town where the rams roam.” Big City Burritos and the CSU Rams are in Fort Collins, and so is Pretty Lights.

3. Woodstock, NY: “Ranger Dave loves hanging in Woodstock, NY around midnight.”

It’s gotta be Levon Helm. He holds infamous “Midnight Rambles” at his studio in Woodstock, and his tour itinerary shows him playing in L.A. on Aug. 15.

4. Los Angeles, CA: “Ranger Dave used to be a robot.”

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. (Alex Ebert used to sing for Ima Robot.)

5. Fullerton, CA: “Ranger Dave loves his Southern California punk rock from Fullerton.”

You can’t say Fullerton punk rock without saying Social Distortion.

6. Montreal, Canada: “Ranger Dave is part Arab, part Jewish and a little French Canadian.”

Chromeo, without a doubt.

7. San Francisco, CA: “Ranger Dave worships this infamous Black Rock DJ.”

Bassnectar, I’m sure, who’s a staple at Burning Man in the Black Rock desert.

8. New Orleans, LA: “Ranger Dave digs brass bands from Treme.”

The television show or the actual neighborhood? Either way, it’s probably the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, since their tour itinerary puts them in Los Angeles on Aug. 18.

9. Versailles, France: “Ranger Dave is wondering what Glendale, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale have in common.”

Phoenix, which will make lots of people stoked.

10. Santa Cruz, CA: “Ranger Dave likes his grass from Santa Cruz via Vermont.”

Definitely the Devil Makes Three, a bluegrass trio from SC by way of Vermont.

So there you go. I think it’s interesting the festival is condensing down to just two days this year—not enough big-name headliners, possibly? Realize in years past they’ve had mainstream staples like Radiohead, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Black Eyed Peas and Dave Matthews, and this tiny trickle of a lineup seems meager, Billboard-wise. It’s just a trickle, though—it’s not to say they won’t bring out bigger names when they announce the full lineup June 1.

But everyone knows it’s the smaller-stage bands that really make this festival. I’m rooting for Superchunk, who only leave their hometown these days for large festivals. Everyone else besides me seems to want Faith No More.

Two-day tickets are on sale for $115, plus the usual service gouges, here. (“Sold Out,” which only means they’re temporarily off sale for a while. Golden Gate Park is huge, so don’t get too worked up about it.)

UPDATE: More clues just in!

11. Memphis, TN: “Ranger Dave is the reverend of love with single stem roses for the ladies.”

Easy—that’s Al Green.

12. Newmarket, Ontario: “Ranger Dave is in a Japanese fraternal order with Steve Guttenberg.”

That’s gotta be Tokyo Police Club. (Steve Guttenberg starred in the Police Academy movies.)

13. Niafunke, Mali: “Ranger Dave has to travel to Mali to find the blues.”

This could be any number of people, but it’s Vieux Farka Toure, Ali Farka Toure’s son, who lists the Outside Lands date on his website.

14. Warri, Nigeria: “Ranger Dave will then backpack to Nigeria on his way to Germany to cleanse his soul.”

Most likely Nneka, from Warri, whose mother is German.

15. Melbourne, Australia: “Ranger Dave raises dionaea muscipula with bad attitudes.”

That’s gotta be the Temper Trap.

Also, in early March, Kings of Leon sent out tour dates to fans that included Outside Lands. Whoops! So Kings of Leon is probably a safe bet—they have the date open on their tour itinerary. Weirdly, they’re going to be in San Diego, Irvine and Los Angeles in July, but they conspicuously aren’t playing Northern California. Most likely because Outside Lands has them for August.

-

UPDATE: Even more clues.

16. Los Angeles, CA: “Ranger Dave is getting frisky. He’s scared of the ghosts on the roof.”

There’s five zillion bands in L.A. and this clue is so vague, I can’t wager a guess.

17. New York City: “Ranger Dave has smuggled Ukrainian books through Staten Island.”

If this is not Gogol Bordello I will eat my hat.

18. New Orleans, LA: “Ranger Dave is floating on the other sea.”

??? Again, large field, bad aim. Galactic? Allen Toussaint? Zzzzzzz.

19. Kansas City, KS: “Ranger Dave is a fan of this French impressionist painter.”

Most likely Janelle Monae.

20.  “Ranger Dave is a friend of felines big and small.”

As Tall as Lions?

21. “Simon says Ranger Dave is cruising on the Pacific Coast Highway in West LA county.”

Hmm… “Pacific Coast Highway” is the current single by Hole?

Relix Magazine published a lineup including Black Star and the Gossip this week.

And another big whoops: Rolling Stone just leaked Furthur as a headliner.

UPDATE, JUNE 1: Well, that was fun. Here’s the official press-release lineup:

Kings of Leon (Sunday Headliners)
Furthur featuring Phil Lesh & Bob Weir (Saturday Headliners)
The Strokes
My Morning Jacket
Phoenix
Al Green
Social Distortion
Gogol Bordello
Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
The Levon Helm Band
Cat Power
Empire of the Sun
Wolfmother
Bassnectar
Chromeo
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Temper Trap
Pretty Lights
Janelle Monáe
Amos Lee
The Devil Makes Three
Tokyo Police Club
Beats Antique
Rebirth Brass Band
Wild Beasts
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub
The Budos Band
Aterciopelados
Garage A Trois feat. Stanton Moore, Marco Benevento, Skerik & Mike Dillon
Mayer Hawthorne & The County
Langhorne Slim
The Pimps of Joytime
People Under the Stairs
Electric Six
Vieux Farke Touré
Dawes
Nneka
The Soft Pack
The Whigs
Little Wings

“More acts will be announced soon,” says Mr. Press Release. Two-Day tickets go on sale June 2 at 10am PST and Single-Day tickets go on sale Sunday, June 6 at 10am PST via the Outside Lands site.

Live Review: Outside Lands Festival 2009 – Day One

Posted by: on Sep 1, 2009 | Comments (3)

I love San Francisco. I love Ocean Beach, and I love biking through Golden Gate Park past the eucalyptus and bison, and I love getting closer and closer to tour buses, road barricades and the sound of distant bands warbling in the wind. I love dropping my bike off with the San Francisco Bike Coalition, and I actually kinda love running from stage to stage to see as many bands as I possibly can before riding back to the beach.

It didn’t used to be this way. I hated festivals. Too many bands, not enough time, way too much marketing, and the worst offense of all—no free water. All of these symptoms are present at the Outside Lands festival, and yet what can I say? I love Golden Gate Park, and love is blind.

The Outside Lands festival returned this year to a flurry of neighborhood complaints about noise and fan complaints about lineup, and the first thing we notice is that there’s way fewer fans and way more people shoving handbills in our faces than last year. Other than that, and the near-universally recognized weakness of this year’s headliners, the Outside Lands festival is pretty much the same as last year—with batting cages.

 

Right before Built to Spill goes on, a girl, about 19, asks me if I’ve ever seen them before. “Yeah, about 12 or 13 times!” I tell her. “I’ve never heard them,” she says, “but my friend told me they’re like Band of Horses. Are they like Band of Horses?”

I admittedly am biased when it comes to Built to Spill, and I feel bad that they’ve been given the unprestigious 2:30pm time slot on a Friday. What’s it like being a hugely influential band, only to have the younger generation care more about your stylistic debtors? The old way of thinking was to raise a bitter ruckus and let as many people as possible know that you haven’t been given your due.

The new way of thinking is that through either Zen or humility, Built to Spill are unfazed at their spot both on the festival schedule and in the tight-jeans handbook. They play “The Plan,” “Else,” “Car,” “You Were Right,” “Big Dipper”—perfect songs that don’t sound old. They play a new song from their upcoming album, with lyrics about Canada and locks on the door, and it sounds just as fresh. Guitarist Jim Roth breaks a string and changes it himself mid-song. Doug Martsch chirps his simple “Thanks.”

Afterwards, a fan is overheard saying, “Dude, Built to Spill and Vicodin… soooo good.”

 

The Dodos recorded an album recently and said fuck it, let’s just stream it online for everyone to hear. In this day and age, that isn’t shattering news, but in light of Visiter and its huge success, it’s admirably surprising that their record label was cool with essentially giving the anticipated follow-up away for free.

Even more surprising, for me, is that live, the Dodos are imbued with the full-on spirit of thrust. Their records have their mellow moments, but the noise made by just Meric’s acoustic guitar and Logan’s drums on stage is baffling. They have a guy playing vibes. Everyone sings along to “Fools.” Their San Francisco friends are out and about, but no one’s razzing them ‘cause they’re ruling it.

 

The best thing to do in San Francisco when there’s a lull in the day is to ride down to Amoeba to score some records by Dinah Washington, Jeru the Damaja, Dirty Projectors, Larry Young, Sunn o))). Hit up the liquor store on Stanyan and pound an entire 32 oz. Gatorade on the sidewalk. It’s hot, man. Bad day to wear black jeans.

 

Q-Tip takes the stage with a full band—guitar, bass, drums, DJ, and a wacky dude with star earrings and dyed red hair who plays Fender Rhodes, saxophone and keytar. I loved Q-Tip’s album from last year, The Renaissance, and he comes out to its lead-off track.

Q-Tip, of course, is commanding the stage; he’s one of the most charismatic hip-hop performers in history. He breathes in rhythm like the Meters, he throws his head back and howls like James Brown, and, in a brief tribute to Michael Jackson, hammers falsetto after falsetto. His band follows his every cue, hitting the floor and cutting the volume at the right times, rising with each scream.

People sometimes ask me who my all-time favorite rapper is. I won’t choose just one, but if all of the hip hop records in the world disappeared tomorrow, I might be placated if the albums made by A Tribe Called Quest were spared. So it’s exciting when Q-Tip hits the first verse of “Oh My God,” and when he flips the beat on “Sucka Nigga,” and when he closes out “Find a Way” with a full-on talk box solo by the wacky keyboard player. When he beatboxes the Brady Bunch theme song into “Bonita Applebum,” the crowd loses their minds.

“Turn off your phones, your iPhones, your Blackberries!” he shouts during an extended jam on “Electric Relaxation.” “We feelin’ the music right here!” The energy level keeps rising and rising. “Check the Rhime” follows, then “Scenario,” and every Tribe Called Quest fan in San Francisco is losing their mind.

And then, oh shit, it happens.

 

Phife and Q-Tip on the same stage performing “Award Tour” at Outside Lands may just be the highlight of the entire festival, for me and a handful of others. My only question: Why in the world didn’t Q-Tip bring him out on Tribe songs sooner, especially for the back-and-forth of “Check the Rhime”? Phife’s voice may not be in the best form, but any rapper who evidently carries a microphone around in his pocket is obviously ready to go on a moment’s notice.

Q-Tip acknowledges the history of the moment, says, “I don’t know when you’re ever gonna see that again,” and lets the crowd trickle away to “Life is Better.”

 

To answer your question, no, nobody threw panties at Tom Jones—at least not for the first few songs. I’m stumped. I remember hearing about Tom Jones issuing a statement about ten years ago asking people to stop throwing panties at him, but no one took it seriously. What’s the deal?

Jones sings “I’m Alive,” “Give a Little Love,” and “Green, Green Grass of Home.” During the fourth song, “If I Only Knew,” a lone red pair of panties flies through the air and alights near Jones’ feet. He ignores it. 40 seconds later, another pair of panties arcs toward the stage. Then another, and another, and another. By the end of the song, it’s just a crazy hailstorm of panties falling on Tom Jones, and I sort of feel sorry for him but I gotta admit, it’s also funny as hell.

He does “Hard to Handle,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and “Delilah,” and saves “It’s Not Unusual” for the end, when most of the curious and ironic onlookers have bailed to catch a painfully boring band called Pearl Jam.

 

 I hope that eventually, someone will chronicle a history of the walk-on music that bands use to take the stage. Fans of Morrissey seem especially devoted to this, as are fans of Depeche Mode, who even released their pre-concert mix on a CD for their fans. Tom Waits played old blues 78s through tinny cone speakers on his last tour; Springsteen plays “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when he’s at a baseball stadium; classical recordings of great bombast are popular. Like so many other ephemeral pieces of the concert experience, walk-on music is something that’s forgotten halfway through the first song—and yet for a brief minute, after the lights go dim, it unites the entire crowd in an innervating herald.

Pearl Jam’s walk-on music is “Metamorphosis 2,” by Philip Glass. There’s some other songs that happen between that and our walking back to our bikes, and Eddie Vedder seems like a nice guy and all, telling the crowd to “keep track of each other and make sure that no one goes down,” but you know. It’s Pearl Jam: The Sound of the ’90s. They are completely and hopelessly dated. Sorry, grunge fans.

Jump to Outside Lands Review – Day Three.

More photos after the jump.

1-2-3, Mos Def and Adam The-eis

Posted by: on Oct 3, 2008 | Comments (3)

Just got off the phone with old pal and former Santa Rosa resident Adam Theis, who’s meeting with Mos Def tonight to discuss their upcoming collaboration for the Band Shell Music Summit in San Francisco. If you’d’ve told me eight years ago that Adam Theis would be working with Mos Def, I’d say you were crazy. But then I’d think about it, and I’d totally believe you, because Theis is among the most talented and dedicated musicians I know.

Here’s the deal: Theis’ Realistic Orchestra is the backing band for Mos Def in a free show on October 18 at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell, between the De Young Museum and the new Academy of Sciences. You can’t just show up, though—you have to go to this website, lie about your income, feel guilty about not taking public transportation and say if you have an energy efficient lightbulb in your house or not. Kinda weird, but whatever—print out the voucher, and you’re in.

Theis says he and Mos Def are working on about a collaborative half-hour set with the Realistic Orchestra for the event, and is quick to point out that the rest of the day’s lineup—with Mingus Amungus, Lavay Smith, Kim Nalley, and some dude from Dave Matthews’ band—should be pretty great as well. The next night, the collaboration hits the stage again at Ruby Skye to benefit the Blue Bear School of Music. Tickets are $50. Go to the free thing instead.

Incidentally, Theis is also working on a two-hour opus commissioned by a prestigious Emerging Composer grant from the Gerbode-Hewlett Foundation, to be premiered next spring as part of the SFJAZZ festival by a 50-piece orchestra. No shit: a 50-piece orchestra. And all this after arranging horns for Lyrics Born’s last album, and the Mighty Underdogs’ last album, and J-Boogie’s last album, and oh, pretty much dominating the Mission District every Tuesday night at Bruno’s.

Outside Lands Festival – Full Lineup Announced

Posted by: on Mar 25, 2008 | Comments (2)

Just got back from the Warriors game. Seven separate heart attacks. Baron matching Kobe point-for-point. Behind-the-back, over-the-shoulder layups and insane hail marys. Last few minutes, the lead dribbles back and forth. Bell: tied. Overtime. Place is in a frenzy. Came down to four seconds left. Monta gets a whistle and it’s bullshit. Kobe sinks two from the line and it’s over. Lakers 123, Warriors 119.

After pounding for three hours, my heart wasn’t even strong enough to break.

You see a game like that, you think you’ve seen it all. But no. I got home and caught the just-announced full lineup for the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park on August 22, 23, and 24. Have you taken a look at everyone that’s playing this thing?!

I’ve got my own draft picks for the festival: Broken Social Scene, M. Ward, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Sharon Jones, Black Mountain, The Cool Kids, Lyrics Born, Tom Petty, Two Gallants, Nellie McKay, Primus, Steve Winwood, Beck, Little Brother, The Coup, Drive-by Truckers, Cafe Tacuba, and K’naan is where you’ll find me.

Also on board for the weekend: Wilco, Ben Harper, Widespread Panic, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Regina Spektor, Jack Johnson, Devendra Banhart, Cold War Kids, Andrew Bird, Steel Pulse, ALO, Matt Nathanson, Dredg, Grace Potter, Donovan Frankenreiter, Mother Hips, Sidestepper, Goapele, Bon Iver, Ivan Neville, Sean Hayes, Felice Brothers, Rupa & the April Fishes, and Back Door Slam.

Here’s the turnaround: 3-day general admission tickets are $225.50 – before service charges. I’ve got a feeling that single-day tickets will be available before too long.

Check the full details online here. Tickets go on sale this Sunday, March 30.

Chalk up another slam dunk for the folks at Another Planet, who in addition to booking the Independent and the Greek Theater are also forging ahead with the return of their excellent Treasure Island Festival in September.

Music fans: stoked. Warriors fans: hosed.