Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival is one mega celebration of cool tunes and indulge-worthy foods served in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. If you follow us on Intagram, you know that this year, Jetset Times was backstage, interviewing bands with a ton of chatter from life on the road by your favorite bands. Stay tuned as our Associate Editor – Jetset Music, Evan Molineux, gives you all the deets from behind the scenes.
1. The Food
One of the things separating Outside Lands from the average fest is their ability to attract such a wide array of the best food vendors and restaurants from around the Bay Area. Everything from locally grown fruit and veg to hamburgers with donut buns were available at this year’s festival. My personal favorites were Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers, 4505 Meats’ garlic chimichurri fries, pork buns from The Chairman Truck, and for dessert Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos.
2. The Drink
Existing in perfect harmony with the array of foods on hand at the festival were also the many alcoholic beverages available in both Beer Lands and Wine Lands. Over twenty vineyards were set up in the wine tent, while beer lands had an exceptional variety of local craft ales, stouts, and lagers from breweries such as Fort Point Beer Co., Lost Coast Brewery, and Firestone Walking Brewing Co. One of my favorite surprises was the discovery of the festival’s lone sake stand, Saké One, which has hooked me on some of Oregon and Japan’s finest rice wines.
3. The Headliners
Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, and Elton John were all given the job of closing out the main stage. It is safe to say that none underwhelmed their audiences. Each act provided festivalgoers with sets that reminded everyone just how good these bands actually are. Laying down hit after hit accompanied by extravagant light shows and providing the perfect ending to each night.
4. Local Bands
Outside Lands pulled huge acts from all around the world, but they also had a solid contingency of local acts performing throughout the weekend. All across the schedule were Bay Area and Northern California natives. From Devon Baldwin and HEARTWATCH in the morning to Santa Cruz band The Devil Makes Three and Bay Area rapper G-Eazy playing at the end of the day. Giraffage commented during his set “I actually live like down the street. This is pretty cool”, which was greeted with a huge roar. Other local acts such as HEARTWATCH had a massive local fan base turn up for their set. Definitely a good weekend to be from The Bay.
5. New Music
Many of the bands playing have either just released new music or are preparing to release new music. Wilco used their set to play their entire upcoming, new album, which Jeff Tweedy said would be called “Star Wars”. Mac Demarco admitted that this was the first time he and his band were playing some of the songs from his latest album Another One. HEARTWATCH rocked their crowd with new single ‘Faultlines’, a love song that makes constant reference to the San Francisco Bay.
It is always a fun and surprising moment when a band breaks into a well-known song that is not their own. Many bands put unique twists on classic hits. Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit thrashed out Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, MisterWives closed their set with a cover of ‘Uptown Funk’, which lead into their own song ‘Imagination Infatuation’ and Sam Smith blended two hits with an homage to Amy Winehouse, singing ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’, which moved into Marvin Gaye’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ midway through.
7. The Barbary
Every year Outside Lands brings together some of the best comedians from around the world to play their comedy tent. This year the stage was graced by such hilarious performers as Tig Notaro, Members of the Daily Show News Team: Al Madrigal, Hasan Minhaj, and Jordon Klepper, and Comedy Bang! Bang! With Scott Aukerman.
8. The LiveStream
Outside Lands successfully did what many festivals have already done and we appreciate that. For those that could not join in the festivities this year, there was a live 3-channel broadcast showing many of the weekends best acts online for free.
Some of the most biggest and most talented Aussies turned up for this year’s festival. The major headliner was Tame Impala, who played the main stage before The Black Keys. However, further down the lineup up Angus and Julia Stone and new boys DMAs played excellent sets.
10. Girls That Rocked
This year’s lineup was full of talented women, many of whom absolutely killed it on stage. MisterWives lead singer Mandy Lee got everyone in the crowd dancing and at one point threw the microphone down, started doing pushups, and yelling about how the societal norms for men and women are b**l s**t. Amen sister. Other women that laid down amazing sets included St. Vincent who melted many faces with her guitar, Hurray for the Riff Raff who is a folk goddess, and Sky Ferreira who delivered a hit filled, hear melting set at her first festival show in 5 years.
11. Guys That Rocked
Many music festivals have made the unfortunate trend of providing lineups overwhelmed with undistinguishable electronic acts. Outside Lands however, made a power move this year by providing a plethora of acts delivering thrashing, distorted guitars, low fi bass, a lots of yelling. Benjamin Booker, Twin Peaks, Speedy Ortiz, and Metz all provided ample time during the weekend to head bang.
12. The Forest
On the way from the Lands End to the Twin Peaks stage, festivalgoers were able to walk through the trees of Golden Gate Park. However, instead of just being a shortcut from one stage to the next, this year the forest was home to food trucks, Bacon Lands, Choco Lands, Hell Brew gypsy sideshow, and Gastromagic, a stage that combined food demonstrations with popular music through acts such as PB & MJ a Michael Jackson Tribute.
13. British Gods
Three extraordinary British acts graced the Lands End stage this year. Elton John and Billy Idol provided the greatest throwbacks imaginable, breaking out all their hits and reminding fans why they are some of the greatest living musicians on this earth. Elton John wore a bedazzled looking suit that had “Fantastic” appropriately written on the back, while Billy Idol ran around the stage with no shirt under his leather jacket. On the younger end of the spectrum Sam Smith reminded everyone why despite having only released one album, he has earned his place as festival headliner. Three of the most extraordinary acts of the weekend.
14. The Love from the Artists
Jeff Tweedy said, “I usually hate audiences, but you guys are alright”. Sam Smith said, “San Francisco is my favorite place to come to in America”. St. Paul and the Broken Bones admitted they were feelings pretty bad after flight delays almost made them miss their set, but how the crowd made it all worth it. Mac Demarco and his band said they didn’t even want to come to the festival this morning, but after playing for this crowd they are glad they did. MisterWives posted on their Facebook – “Largest, Greatest, Happiest & Most Beautiful crowd we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing for!” Tame Impala revealed he was feeling pretty bad, but the San Francisco crowd helped to pick him back up. It seemed as though every artist was grateful to be playing for his or her San Francisco audience and we were all happy to have them.