All photos: April Siese
The fog and cold made its triumphant return to Outside Lands, contrasting against the sun and blue sky of Friday’s opening salvo of music and art and beer and food.
I traded in the warm cocoon of the media tent for another tent, the kind of tent an Upright Citizens Brigade founding member would remark was “a tent where hippie orgies would happen.” Oh, Barbary, it’s good to be back in your musky embrace. It made me forget for half the day that the masses of humanity were just outside the door.
Public access darling The Chris Gethard Show is described as “the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City.” With a devoted community of followers (I am one of them). The show (hosted by the titular comedian Chris Gethard, along with a cast consisting of Vacation Jason, The Human Fish, Bethany Hall, and Noah Forman) makes its second visit to San Francisco, after coming through for SF Sketchfest earlier this year. The live show is always a high-wire act that almost always flies off the rails, and this time around TCGS performed money free auctions of human shame. Instead of bidding money, audience members were asked to bid away human dignity (how many kisses will you give to a shirtless man in swim trunks and goggles known as The Human Fish? What Billy Joel song will you sing a cappella? What is the saddest thing to have ever happened to you?) for the chance to win a prank call from Vacation Jason, or a back massage from The Human Fish.
Safe to say this is the only act at Outside Lands to bring what they dubbed the ‘cum jug’ onstage with them. (“glug, glug, it’s the cum jug!”)
As an aside, The Chris Gethard Show ought to be sponsored by the Daiso in Japantown as Chris Gethard cannot stop raving about the place whenever he is in San Francisco (he mentions always stopping by to buy props and prizes when they’re in town).
Doubling down on the comedy tent, I decided to attend the live version of the Improv4Humans podcast, hosted by Matt Besser. Impov isn’t like pizza, where even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good. That’s why I’m very happy to report the Improv4Human show was hilarious, and reached standing room only status. Joining Besser was Seth Morris (Comedy Bang Bang), Lauren Lapkus (Orange is the New Black), and Gethard. Taking suggestions from the audience (ranging from pantaloons, to a salad bar, to autographs), the four improvised a scene on the spot, which made it feel like old-timey radio.
I caught the end of Local Natives on the Lands End stage on the way back, which, being my first time hearing them, sounded like the kind of anthemic guitar drive rock complete with swells and WHOA-OH-OH. Another genre firmly in my wheelhouse.
As a big Haim fan, I was slightly befuddled at their Lands End performance yesterday. They said when they got on the stage that they wanted to turn Outside Lands into the “Haim family living room.” Nights in the Haim family living room involve lots of guitar noodling and hair flipping, then. I counted only about two and a half actual songs played in the first thirty minutes of their scheduled hour set, with the rest of the time being spent with screwing around on their respective instruments and showcasing their solo face. Wasn’t sure if the jammy parts of their set were supposed to be a festival throwback, back when festivals didn’t have a Toyota “space disco.”
I think Haim honestly only played about six songs in their hour on stage, rounding out their set with each sister taking their own solo (which seemed unearned). It felt like when I was a freshman in high school and the jazz band would play in assembly and EVERYONE would get a solo and we’d all have to applaud for them, even the guy who fucked up the his sax solo.
Death Cab for Cutie transformed Outside Lands into every party I was never invited to as a teenager, where I was surrounded by beer I wasn’t drinking and girls I wasn’t talking to. I wasn’t even planning on staying for the entire set, but it was as if seventeen year old me was tugging at my shoulder, imploring me that I had to watch this.
A-Trak and Armand Van Helden make up the house-disco-hip-hop duo Duck Sauce, who played over at the Twin Peaks stage, on the other side of Golden Gate Park. Away from Lands End, away from the safety and comfort of the media tent, with their free water, chairs, and wifi. This was exactly the situation I was trying to avoid. Being in the mass of “youth culture,” a swirling demographic maelstrom of people living from beat drop to beat drop. I was in my own personal video game horde mode, trying to hold out as long as I could.
“Well Paolo, I guess you’re gonna have to dance your way out of this one.” said my inner monologue as every part of my body began to shimmy and shake, every fist pump, every body roll, was trying to keep out the reptilian part of my head that wanted to just fucking run.
As I made my way back to for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Duck Sauce’s debut single from 2010, Barbara Streisand, was played. Even as the proverbial beat began to drop off, the people around me were still humming the signature “ooh-ooh-ooh” creating a kind of low hum Pavolian response.
I made it over the crest to the polo fields to the strains of Mary Jane’s Last Dance by day two closers Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as multiple fists and “woos!” and “I love this songs!” popped up around me. I’m fully committing to the idea that day two was a study in contrasts compared to day one, and having Tom Petty play was the opposite of what Kanye (which you can read here) brought to Lands End on Friday night. No gimmicks, no theatrics, no bullshit.
Petty ended the night with American Girl as the encore (a song that debuted in Palo Alto in 1976).
Stay tuned for our coverage of the last day of Outside Lands 2014! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @SFAppealOL for live dispatches for when it all goes down.