Although known as a Music Festival, Outside Lands doesn’t get enough credit for its food and beverage offerings.
In the interest of science, I made frequent visits to the Beer Lands over the three days and sampled a number of offerings. Highlights included Marin Brewing’s Blueberry Wheat, which had a mild fruit flavor, while on the dark side there was the wonderfully rich Drake’s Brewing’s Black Robusto Porter and Iron Springs Pub & Brewery’s Coffee Porter. My absolute favorite, as evidenced by my repeat purchases, was the Pineapple Cider from Ace Cider. This light, refreshing drink could easily be abused on warm days because it tasted so wonderful and went down so smoothly. Not overly sweet but utterly delicious.
There’s food available all over the festival grounds, offered in numerous booths and several food trucks, and that doesn’t even take into account the areas devoted solely to cheese and chocolate. My favorite was hands-down the Deconstructed Samosas from the Curry Up Now food truck. It had such great, fresh flavors. Coming in second were the spicy tater tots from Nojo. My least favorite was the ramen burger from Nombe, which was surprising considering how long the lines were their booth.
The first band I paid attention to on Saturday was Deer Tick, and I had no choice because as I walked by their loud, raucous, melodic songs were captivating, which is what you want in a rock band you are hearing for the first time. Influences from the Replacements, Uncle Tupelo, Nirvana, and the Beatles could be heard in a blend that sounded fresh and made me long for more.
The girl-power pop group HAIM held court on the main stage with their rocking take on ’90s R&B. Funny that they get compared to Fleetwood Mac and the FM cover they do is the Peter Green-written “Oh Well.” Didn’t stay too long because it’s a long walk, at least it feels that way on Day 2, and wanted to catch Capital Cities, and I am glad I did. They were throwing a huge dance party that included a nod back to the past with a bit of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” and closing the set with their big hit “Safe and Sound.”
Back on the main stage, Death Cab for Cutie was playing to many who seemed to enjoy what they were hearing. Unfortunately, the music was too laid back and the lyrics weren’t not clear enough in the moment for me to make a connection. Hip-hop group Atmosphere drew an enormous crowd to the Sutro that they could have been a headliner.
Speaking of, the main stage headliner was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who just began a tour in support of their new release, Hypnotic Eye, and played four songs from that album. After opening with The Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” I was pleasantly surprised to discover the crowd excited to hear “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
To be honest, I didn’t know what I was expecting, but just looking at Outside Lands roster the festival seems to be much more about modern music rather than classic rock (which I consider one of the last bands from that classification), so I wasn’t sure the reaction the band would get. Upon hearing the enthusiastic sing-along to “I Won’t Back Down” and the even bigger response to “Free Fallin’,” it was obvious the organizers made the right call.
It was great to hear Petty keep the Traveling Wilburys memory alive with “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” and in honor of Jerry Garcia’s passing 19 years ago that day, they delivered a heartfelt cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.”
The band played in fine form and was at their best when they played fast and loud, which they got to do plenty of, including the last three songs of the night, which were “Runnin’ Down a Dream“ and the two-song encore of “You Wreck Me” and, going all the way back to their first album, “American Girl.”