Hopes were high for bright and sunny weather in San Francisco during the second day of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. Lovely Golden Gate Park had to endure the impact of tens of thousands more revelers who wanted to listen to good music, view artists and their creative works, drink fine beer and wine, eat delicious food, and hang out with cool people trying to have a relaxing time.
The day started slowly for me as I rushed to listen to local indie rock band Social Studies. Unfortunately, I arrived late, but managed to hear a few songs. Lead singer Natalia Rogovin reminds me a lot of Beach House singer Victoria Legrand, with her bluesy vocals splashed with a bit of garage band funk.
Next, Los Angeles-based indie quintet Milo Greene rocked out a set at the Sutro stage. One of my pet peeves about concerts is that some bands never really talk and simply play their songs. During Milo Greene’s performance, a couple of band members tried to tell a story, but Marlana Sheetz quickly reminded the two that they were on a strict timetable and soon started playing again (sometimes I forget this fact of life, but it is always nice to a hear a good anecdote or two). Highlights included a cover of Sufjan Stevens’ “All Things Go” and “1957.”
Southern California rock band The Growlers had a huge following, turning back the clock, so to speak, with their quasi-throwback to California rock sound, or what they termed “beach goth.” The band kept the energy and tempo high, especially with a new song called “Tell Him How It Is.”
“Hometown!” Thao Nguyen exclaimed as she took the stage with her band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Calling Thao a musical prodigy would be an understatement because she pretty much played every instrument on stage, including a banjo. When she wasn’t playing an instrument or singing, she was letting loose rumors that Bob Saget and John Stamos were at the festival (which has since been confirmed).
After a seven-year break, Los Angeles alt-hip-hop group Jurassic 5 reunited for a few music festivals earlier this year and, lucky us, included Outside Lands on their schedule. There was a huge crowd willing to participate in any way deemed necessary by the legendary group (which also happened to be the only hip-hop act at the festival), including hand waving, chanting, cheering, and singing. Though most of the set was upbeat, there was a somber shout-out to Trayvon Martin and other lost loved ones.
I was most excited about finally seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform. I’ve always heard the band rocks it from start to finish, and I finally got to experience that live. Frontwoman Karen O had incredibly infectious energy—always moving and getting everyone in the crowd to do the same, especially on hits like “Heads Will Roll,” “Zero” and the band’s love song, “Maps.”
After Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I rushed to catch a glimpse of Seattle indie folk-pop band The Head and The Heart. Fortunately, their set at the Sutro stage was nearby; unfortunately, I managed only to catch one song from about a few hundred feet behind a chain link fence.
I’m bummed to have missed Atlas Genius, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Grizzly Bear (at the final stop of their current tour). I caught Phoenix when the band performed here a few years ago, so I wasn’t as disappointed for missing them in order to see Nine Inch Nails. As always the stage helps set the mood for the band’s melodies and tones. Their first act was decidedly hard; the middle act was mellower, which included crowd pleaser “Closer”; the final act picked things back up again, which included my personal favorite “The Hand That Feeds.” Time quite literally flew as it was already time for the encore before a moment’s notice, as frontman Trent Reznor perfectly ended the night with “Hurt.”
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