How was Outside Lands on Friday? The Appeal’s April Siese and Hunter Mulich give their take on the first day of the 2012 fest below, and Hunter’s photos from the scene are in the gallery above. They’re also covering Outside Lands live at @SFAppealOL. If you’re not following them, you should!

Hunter Mulich
Outside Lands is a wonderful place. Hidden from staples of city life – skyscrapers, honking taxis, and getting assaulted for spare change – is a little gem in Golden Gate Park that really works on all five senses.

The day started off rushed, though it’s not uncommon for the first day of a festival to be this way. And with new additions like Beer Lands and Outside Lambs there was reason to rush, above and beyond that kickass lineup.

Once everything was situated (“I have to pee.” “Where’s Hellman Hollow?”) the day began to pace out and take on the relaxing tone it was meant to. Conflicts with set times weren’t a big issue, and the crowd is older and more mature than other festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, which definitely creates a nice atmosphere and more personal space.

From Fitz and the Tantrums, to Die Antwoord, to Foo Fighters and Beck, each act brought us a truly solid performance filled with classic songs and sprinkled with new ones. “Learn to Fly,” “Loser,” and “Cinnamon Girl” all in one day? I’m in.

Between staples of this musical generation, there also a lot of younger acts that shouldn’t be underestimated. Washed Out, Of Monsters and Men, and YACHT, and Die Antwoord all made appearances as ambassadors of a newer crew, the latter of which both put on tight, high energy performances over on the Twin Peaks stage.

Despite the awesome lineup, no one I saw truly blew me away. But that doesn’t seem like the goal of anything at OSL. It’s more of a “Let’s all hang out together while enjoying these great bands,” less of a “we’re going to blow you away with how awesome we are.” And I like that a lot.

Beer Lands was slightly disappointing. It was a major factor in their advertising, but most everyone I heard and talked to was irked at that fact of having to wait in line to buy beer coupons, then wait in line to trade coupons for beer.

But I’m completely looking forward to day two! It should be a new vibe with these different set of bands, so who knows what will happen.

April Siese
1. They weren’t kidding when they said the festival was sold out. Attendance was insane!
2. Outside Lambs was a fantastic addition, what with 25 whole lambs being cooked & consumed this weekend.
3. House Band Wine is great; don’t be fooled by the pouch.
4. The sky was gray all day long.
5. Twin Peaks Stage had a nice “get down and dance” theme.

A Lack of Energy: I’m usually one of the first people to complain about audience engagement (in basic hippie terms, the vibe of a show) but amazingly, I wasn’t alone in bitching. Many others noticed the masses found it more appealing to incessantly social media their experience than live it. Others completely ignores the stage they were at in favor of talking incredibly loudly so they could be even more visible.

That ultra-shitty combination made for a lackluster audience during Fitz and the Tantrums. It was frustrating because, though the band more than held up their end on things, that final “give a shit” and “lose your shit” that was missing seriously detracted from their set. I made a decent job of patrolling the crowd and the people I did see dancing ended up being my fellow compatriots at The Owl Mag. Us music journalists know how to throw down.

Big Gains: Outside Lands has solidly established itself as one of those big festivals, and the concerts’ organizars at Superfly appear to be tweaking it just enough to make it work. The thirsty masses turned out in droves for beer lands and wine lands, pairing their beverages with an array of great food. Though Outside Lambs initially started with a few issues (including some gyros being made without lamb and some orders being forgotten), a streamlined system was quickly implemented. New stage addition The Barbary also fared well, with a decent crowd looking for laughs.

Beck: He’s one of those diverse artists whose discography could split him into multiple men. As complementary as that may sound, it’s not so great when you’re in a groovetastic “Midnight Vultures” kind of mood and he plays nothing but the morose “Sea Changes.”

This set took both vibes and slapped them silly with a guitar riff here and a synth there. Beck’s set was expansive, seamlessly rolling from hit to hit with a Bob Dylan cover mixed in for good measure. His secret show at Bimbo’s Thursday must’ve been the warm-up he needed because Beck was on fire at the Lands End stage!

All photos: Hunter Mulich for the SF Appeal

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