Appeal correspondents Katie Baker, Andrew Dalton, and Ramona Emerson braved both days of the Outside Lands music festival, and boy, are their arms tired. Relive their live coverage from their group twitter account, or see their wrapup and Andrew’s slideshow from Saturday’s shows. Treasure Island, here we come. Right, guys? Guys?
Having gotten the festival mostly figured out on Saturday, I felt like an old pro. (Full disclosure: I was paid in free wine and snacks. I’m not sure if that makes me a professional or if I still get to retain my amateur status.) The crowd definitely showed up for Sunday, stages were getting packed earlier and there was a marked increase in foot traffic. The swollen crowd was definitely more fashionable on Sunday too. And by “fashionable”, I mean “younger and more attractive.”
So I guess the younger, attractive crowd is in to inoffensive rock and pop-leaning techno, because most of the artists on Sunday’s lineup fit one of those two categories. Case in point: we started the day at in Speedway Meadow with The Soft Pack, a band formerly known as The Muslims. They were sharp, grungy and so loud I was wondering if maybe my ears were still ringing from Saturday night.
After a slight mid-afternoon lull spent in the press tent watching other people interview all the big names, I caught Mayor Hawthorne who was like the delightfully nerdy kid at your prom in a vintage (but well-fitting!) suit and sneakers. Except this dude could actually sing. Consider yourselves redeemed, AV Clubbers.
The Devil Makes Three reminded me that even hipsters love a little country twang, especially the older set who I imagine grew up on Uncle Tupelo records and have a slight disdain for your collection of Wilco MP3s.
I wasn’t expecting too much from anthemic Australians The Temper Trap because I felt like the YouTube video (of a car commercial, natch) I watched the other day really captured their spirit pretty well, but they were surprisingly energetic. Bassist Jonathon Aherne was whipping around like he was closing down the fest.
Janelle Monae arrived late, so her set was shortened, but she didn’t seem to let that get to her. She’s exactly how I imagine Lady Gaga would be if she spent more time hanging out with Sharon Jones and less time making 15 minute videos with Beyonce. Funky and electric.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros has been through San Francisco half a dozen times in the past year and you could tell it paid off as soon as you saw the huge crowd they drew to the far end of the festival. Also, I don’t think frontman Alex Ebert has changed clothes since I saw them at Treasure Island last October and his underwear was on inside-out.
Chromeo took over the Twin Peaks stage and provided a slick, electronic, just-stepped-off-the-plane-in-Vegas vibe to balance out the just-off-the-bus-from-Eukiah vibe of Edward Sharpe. In the middle of it all, Garage a Trois was manhandling the Panhandle stage with more distortion coming from Skerik‘s saxophone than any guitar setup from the day.
And speaking of distortion – OG-Orange County punks Social Distortion hung on to the last bit of sun as the band powered through a set full of punks-never-grow-old anthems, several of which are older than your SFAppeal correspondents.
I got really excited when I realized Kings of Leon had gone on and I could still make it into the photo area (for bragging rights, duh) but then I realized we didn’t get approved to shoot the band so I took pictures of the flatscreen TV in the Chase Freedom Lounge instead. (I will blog about Chase Bank all day just because they let me use their bathrooms.) On my way out, I was hit in the face by Empire of the Sun, who closed out the Twin Peaks stage with bubbly electro-pop gems that carried us back into the park.
On my walk home, Kings of Leon still playing in the distance, some young Jeff Bridges-looking dude rode by on a bike, playfully mocking NIMBYs.
The increased crowds were already obvious as we headed over this morning on the 5. They also seemed more excited, or more drunk, or both. The weather was tricky, as at first it seemed colder than Saturday then warmer then colder again.
We started our day at our home away from home the Chase Freedom Lounge. I don’t mean to be talking about this so much, but there was free wine, beer, and food, so it was pretty much the only thing we saw all weekend. Between Chase and the media tent we didn’t have to pay for anything all day, which made me realize that if I didn’t have to pay for food or booze I would have a ton of money and could probably afford to look more fashionable.
Speaking of fashion, festivals seem to be 98% about what you’re wearing and 2% about Chase Freedom Lounge. It was hard to believe how great some people looked, a lot of high-waisted shorts with patterned tights and lipstick, and also that some people are still insisting on wearing those headbands that go right across their forehead and smoosh their hair down right above your ears. It’s like people get all ready, and then as the final touch they decide to wrap a bra strap around their head and ruin the whole thing.
Okay, so music. Today was the “big” day because everyone wants to hear Temper Trap sing Sweet Disposition just once when it’s not on a commercial for anti-depressants or Grey’s Anatomy.
Janelle Monae was late for her set, so we left to beat the crowd to Edward Sharpe, and what a crowd. Of all the people we talked to, which was not many, Ed and his gang of lanky miscreants seemed to be the most highly anticipated. They didn’t disappoint. The music was the kind of big sound that’s perfect for outdoor venues, and they put on quite a show twirling hither and thither all over the stage. There were about 11 people on stage, and I had a brief moment of jealousy thinking about the life of, say, the xylophone girl. Must be nice.
Back to Chase for refreshments and to see if the 5pm pizza dinner was ready, and found out that low and behold Monae was doing a special set in the tent. I didn’t really know much about her going in, and was quietly munching on my trail-mix when she comes onto stage, this tiny gorgeous young lady in a cape and neck ruff, and dives into the first song with gusto, and a great soul voice. It was awesome.
I left as the sun was coming out and without seeing Phoenix, which is like saying you don’t like Radiohead: against the law. But I was tired of the crowds and losing my will to stand or sit or be jealous of other people’s cool clothes. I caught the 5 right outside the park, and rode towards home.
Sunday started off a little slowly, as we were all still tired from the day before and didn’t care much about the first few performances. Andrew decided to take the responsible, “I’m supposed to be covering this festival” route and went off to take pictures of bands while Ramona and I meandered back and forth between the Chase lounge (more on this later) and the Media lounge.
We were rewarded for being true to our hearts when the Media lounge turned into a celeb-studded hot spot! First we saw two men being interviewed: one was tall and good looking and wearing a sweet mini trench coat and the other was not those things. “Who is that?” Ramona asked someone, and was told that it was Chromeo in a pretty disdainful way.
At this point I felt pretty embarrassed because I had been talking about how much I liked them when in reality all I knew was that one of them was a professor at Columbia and that Mama’s Boy is a really awesome song. Turns out he is actually just getting his phd in French Lit…and that they “were the only kids listening to funk in high school.”
Then, it was Phoenix’s turn. I heard nothing any of them said because the microphone was off and they are French. French mumbling plus turned off equipment is very bad news. I stood about two feet from the interview at the end and managed to make out the groundbreaking news that the band, collectively, is bemused by but doesn’t know what to make of both Twitter and Snooki.
Next up was Alex from Edward Sharpe. I recognized him when he walked in the tent (he’s pretty hard to miss, even when he’s not followed by his whimsically dressed troupe of Magnetic Zeros). The sound was still bad but I think I heard the band is working on a musical? Other than that Alex was pretty annoying. I like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros a lot when they’re on stage but not as much when they’re talking (although I DO love musicals).
After the interviews, Ramona and I tried to see Janelle Monae but had to leave early for Edward Sharpe. I really enjoyed the set, and like Ramona had a brief moment of jealousy but for me it was more wishing I had a beautiful voice and would look good in a floor length green dress while dancing with a tambourine. Chromeo and Phoenix were next, and both were awesome (apparently so was Al Green, who I missed). I was beat from two days of festival excitement so I left before Empire of the Sun but the ACTUAL sun was out so that made up for it.
One more highlight I must elaborate on: the Chase lounge. Thank you so much, O Chase Lounge, for providing us with free wine and beer and sandwiches and pizza and trailmix and comfy chairs (at one point Ramona considered if they were free, too) and private shows all weekend. I have a brilliant idea: what if EVERY chase bank had a lounge? Then I would definitely switch banks for sure. If any Chase representatives want to discuss my idea further – you know where to find me.
All photos: Andrew Dalton for the Appeal