The Outside Lands Festival returned to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for its seventh edition this weekend. With five music stages, one for comedy and one for cooking, they offered quite a variety of activities. Attendees have tough choices if they want to maximize the music they take in with the stages spread about the park.
The quintet known as Greensky Bluegrass were electrifying as mandolin player sang with great passion Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck’s dobro rang out. I enjoyed the horns of The Soul Rebels, but after a couple of songs, I couldn’t get into the rap over the music, so I returned to Greensky.
As I walked up on Run The Jewels was on main stage, whatever song they were performing ended with “Bitch” repeated over and over. They followed up with a song that used “nigga” so much it was distracting. El-P then went on an odd rant about people wearing 32″ chains, and I had my fill of their immaturity. Phosphorescent’s indie rock was a little too laid back as it served more as background music for many in the meadow who were chatting with each other. The music was enjoyable, but didn’t fit right with the setting.
Synthpop duo Holy Ghost! were a delight as they turned the polo field into an ’80s dance party. I was disappointed to leave, but wanted to catch others. They were a highlight of the day. Warpaint’s atmospheric sounds were welcoming but they seem better suited for a darkened room than a warm, sunny afternoon. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers folk rock was much better served by the late afternoon.
Chromeo followed Holy Ghost! and kept the dance party moving and grooving by adding some funk to the proceedings. The only negative was their sounds were so captivating it caused Kacey Musgraves to get an undeserved poor turnout for her classic country sound and sweet vocals. No doubt some of the smoking locals appreciated her cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”Tedeschi Trucks Band performed some classic-sounding blues rock and performed the first drum solo I caught, and likely only one played, that day.
Headliner Kanye West was the best represented artist of the day among attendees as I saw Yeezus shirts most often. He opened with the hard-driving “Black Skinhead,” singing in front off a bright, flashing red screen. The next two songs were bland, including “Cold” with its “creative” use of Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” sped-up. After he stopped “Clique” to rant at the media, a rant where he complained about their negativity and lack of embracing the moment, the latter of which he was guilty of, I had no interest in being bored by him any longer.
Arctic Monkeys were the alternative to Kayne and worked their way through a set of indie rockers that sounded too similar to one another. It appeared to satisfy fans, but may have left others wondering how they beat out so many other more engaging artists for the spot.