If you tried to get into San Francisco on Friday and encountered extreme traffic congestion, then you probably forgot that the sixth annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival was taking place this weekend. Fear not. It’ll all be over soon. And for those neighbors living around Golden Gate Park, I’m sorry for the mess and noise—for those that don’t like the music.
Typically Friday early afternoons aren’t nearly as busy as Saturday or Sundays, but there was a surprisingly large number of people already at the park by noontime when reggae singer-songwriter Naia Kete took to the Panhandle stage. The former contestant on The Voice wowed the crowd with her direct soulful voice on songs like “Fire Breather” and ”Sing Me.” She pulled off a coup when she asked the dispersed crowd to come together for a group photo. After, she said, “Good, now stay there” while she played the last few songs of her set.
San Francisco-based electronic pop duo Midi Mathilda performed at the Twin Peaks stage. Drummer Logan Grimé said he was excited to be on this side of the festival after having snuck onto festival grounds in previous years. Grimé later broke out in dance during the set to which singer Skylar Kilborn asked with snark what Grimé called those moves. Grimes replied that he’d have to ask LMFAO. Set highlights included “Love & the Movies,” “Red Light District” (title track of the band’s new EP, and a cover of the The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.”
Katie Toupin of Indiana bluegrass/blues rock band Houndmouth revealed an interesting anecdote about shorts, possible poison ivy, and a resulting wicked two-week itch.
Indie rock band Wild Belle, with all members wearing matching outfits, rocked the Twin Peaks stage with their funk, soul, and pop. Lead singer Natalie Bergman reminded me a lot of British soul singer Duffy and Oh Land singer Nanna Øland Fabricius with her sometimes raspy, always soulful voice. Unfortunately, the ocean breeze blew her hat off early in the set and had to make due with her uncovered gorgeous long blonde hair.
There was a large crowd already gathered for Band of Horses at the Lands End stage, who performed their hits “Laredo,” “Is There a Ghost,” and big crowd pleaser “The Funeral.”
Canadian indie electronic duo Rhye provided one soothing and sensual track after another during their set. I don’t think a lot of people were ready for the band’s music and didn’t really know what to expect from Mike Milosh’s gender-bending vocals. Unfortunately, I had to exit early in order to catch the second half of The National, who played at the main stage. Heard about it afterwards but Kronos Quartet were guests on the first three songs of the set. Coupled with Bob Weir joining on the final song, you can officially call National as one damn cool band.
I hate to admit this, but I had to miss the first half of Sir Paul McCartney’s set in order to catch at least a few songs from psychedelic pop band Yeasayer and electronic band Chromatics—the former showcased some enticing dance numbers, while the latter provided more mellow electronic affair such as “Lady”. No, I’m not crazy, but I did make the hard decision to skip Pretty Lights entirely.
What to say about McCartney? I think lots of people came here just to see a living Beatle perform in Golden Gate Park. I don’t blame them. By the time I sat down for the performance, McCartney was performing “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lady Madonna,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Let it Be.” In a tribute to George Harrison, McCartney started the Harrison-written “Something” on the ukulele.
He mused about his experience performing in Moscow’s Red Square, and found out that one Russian national learned English for the first time by listening to Beatles records. There were pyrotechnics and fireworks during “Live and Let Die” before two encores that included “Day Tripper,” an impromptu autograph session with two lucky girls from the audience, “Yesterday” joined by Kronos Quartet, and “Helter Skelter.”
Photo Credits: Tan The Man