San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park hosted the First Annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival to much applause and yearning. With so much available open space, it’s hard to imagine that there hasn’t been a music festival that has rocked the park past sunset.
Touted much as a green event, festival organizers heavily promoted the use of renewable energy, public transportation, and other environment-friendly everyday activities. Eco Lands was the festival’s main green attraction, were many booths dedicated to environmental organizations like Golden Gate Conservatory and Trust For Public Land.
I toured many of these booths, hearing tidbits as I passed the booth representatives. I collected pamphlets, but I knew I was more interested in the music portion of the festival. Friday’s official start time was 5:00 pm, which meant that I had only three hours of experiencing as much music as possible before Radiohead rocked the main Land’s End stage.
Los Angeles-based band Carney was one of the first three acts to kick off the festival. The Reeve Carney (vocals, guitar) and Zan Carney (guitar)-led quartet, along with John David Lipscomb (bass) and Jon Epcar (drums), jammed the Presidio stage with its blend of blues and rock, with blues rock being somewhat inaccurate.
Unfortunately Carney was only allotted twenty-five minutes for its set, which resulted in only two songs (“Testify” being the only one I can remember) because the band heavily focused on showcasing their ability to play. And they sure can play.
Cold War Kids
I was surprised for the turnout for the Cold War Kids over at the Sutro stage. The Long Beach quartet (Matthew Aveiro, Jonathan Russell, Nathan Willett and Maust) played a very energetic set, bringing enormous screams at the opening riff for “Hang Me Up To Dry.”
CWK-favorites like “We Used To Vacation” enthused the crowd, but much of the set was devoted to play tracks off the band’s soon-to-be-released Loyalty To Loyalty, with “Something Is Not Right” being the most well-known for the very packed area. I can’t remember what other new songs were played, and I can’t find any online streams of the new album so I can’t compare, but those that were played were definitely enjoyed by the festival-goers.
I wished I got to see part of Barcelona band, but their set started immediately after Cold War Kids and leaving the Sutro stage area was a nightmare because the only exit was this thin strip probably 50 ft long. That might have seemed sufficient enough but having hundreds of people try to leave the area with hundreds of people entering (Beck was scheduled to play the Sutro stage in thirty minutes) was bumper-to-bumper.
Thankfully this didn’t seem to happen later on, but I was shoved multiple times (resulting in a few f-bombs) and a few men (although to be fair many women cheered them on) kicked over a metal fence to get out.
I spent close to thirty minutes in that standstill, and by the time I got out it made more sense to simply get a good position for The Black Keys than catch the tail-end of Manu.
The Black Keys
Akron, Ohio-duo The Black Keys really rocked the Twin Peaks stage. I’m always amazed at bands with so few members being able to sound so complete and expansive. They put larger bands to shame with how well they can create such well-tuned and filling vibes.
Unfortunately, Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) for the most part simply played through their set with little interaction. It didn’t seem to mind most people, especially the flower-power girls channeling their inner-60s soul.
I wish I got to see the Berkely group Lyrics Born, but sadly they were scheduled to play the same time as The Black Keys. I did manage to catch the end and “Callin’ Out” did hit a collective groove with those there.
Arguably Outside Land’s main attraction, Radiohead rocked the Land’s End stage with thousands of people waiting hours to see. The Oxfordshire quintet (Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway, and Thom Yorke) received thunderous cheers as they came out, second only to their cheering response to lead singer Yorke’s “What’s Up?” Their second song “Reckoner” was amazing to experience at dusk.
Hits like “Karma Police,” and “The Gloaming” stirred up the crowd, but everyone was pissed off when not once, but twice the entire sound cut off for what felt like a majority of the two songs that were played (“Airbag” and “All I Need”). I’m sure the boos were apparent, to which Yorke replied “I don’t know what the f*ck’s going on, I’m sorry.”
With the massive pile-up after the Cold War Kids set fresh on my mind, I thought it best to leave the show early (which caused me much pain) after “Bodysnatchers.” Sadly, many people had the same idea I had so it still took some time to use the one of three small exits. I missed the encore, but I don’t know how late the band played given the city’s curfew law. But I’m glad those that stayed got to catch a live “Paranoid Android.” See Radiohead’s set list here.