Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2012 arguably experienced its busiest day on Saturday, August 11, as thousands of people packed into Golden Gate Park on another cloudy and windy day. It seemed promising as the sun baked much of the eastern city, but Mother Nature again refused to warm the many minimally dressed males and females who lost their bet that it would be a sun-soaked day.
By waking up a bit earlier than usual on a Saturday, I was able to catch Zola Jesus at the main stage as one of the festival’s starting acts. Frontwoman Nika Roza Danilova even thanked the crowd for skipping their lunch hour to see them. Danilova didn’t look visibly cold, but she moved all across the stage to seemingly try to keep as warm as possible. She remarked that it was cold, but she wasn’t “going to be a pussy about it.” Danilova even made her way to the photo pit and handslapped lucky fans. Near the performance’s end, she performed more uptempo versions of some of her songs, including “Sea Talk.”
North London-based rock trio Animal Kingdom brought their bedroom rock tunes to the smaller Panhandle stage. Even though it may not have applied to me, I felt the band performed in order to persuade clothing to slowly strip away. The band performed “Everything at Once,” inspired by their favorite British festival, Secret Garden Party, which they thought was eerily similar to Outside Lands. Unfortunately for San Francisco, although Britons were able to enjoy music all night long, if Outsided Lands patrons want something similar they will have to form an Occupy Movement to camp for the night. The band concluded the set with “Strange Attractor,” and recommended that the song’s music video be watched by those who haven’t seen it yet.
Local electronic dance pop trio Geographer wowed the Twin Peaks stage with their synth-driven tunes. The audience completely enjoyed the band’s style of make-out music. Lead singer Michael Deni confessed that writing and recording the band’s sophomore album, Myth, involved surrounding himself with many friends and family, but that ultimately he was alone. However, he said he definitely didn’t feel alone as he stared and waved to the large cheering crowd.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long as I rushed over to see the overlapping set by folk trio Be Good Tanyas. Currently on their quasi-reunion tour, the trio performed their old and recent hits, including the not-so-optimistic “Waiting Around to Die” and the new(ish) song “September Field.” The three ladies were obviously huge Neil Young fans as they repeatedly asked who in the audience caught his performance and even covered his song “For the Turnstiles.” In another way, it was a double-reunion as two members are former San Francisco residents, a fact which got a big ovation from the crowd.
Portland, Oregon-based Portugal. The Man (the period is part of the band’s name) brought a different flair to the festival with their positive and upbeat songs. “Work All Day” and “People Say” were crowd pleasers, especially after a few lucky people from the crowd were invited into the photo pit to get a closer view of the band.
I tried to catch the Alabama rock band Alabama Shakes at the Sutro stage, but I was forced to turn back after seeing the extremely crowded Sutro area. As a result, I retreated back to the main stage to see Explosions in the Sky and hear their ambient electronic tunes. Again, many lucky members of the crowd were invited into the photo pit, which excited the eager festivalgoers. Much of the band’s music seemed like a blur as each song continuously flowed, one after another, until the set ended as unceremoniously as it began.
Many in the crowd were anxious to see The Kills perform at the main stage. A more moody rock set felt like the perfect accompanying follow-up, one that could get the audience into a darker, yet unagitated, frame of mind.
I was still traumatized by the crowd at the Sutro stage, so I decided to not see Norah Jones and instead catch Passion Pit. There was probably an equally large crowd at the Twin Peaks stage to see the Michael Angelakos-led electropop band perform the big hits from their first album Manners, including “The Reeling.” But they were really eager to play some songs from their recently released sophomore album, Gossamer.
Metallica started its set in a hurry, eager to play in front of its home crowd, which also happened to be their first concert at Golden Gate Park in decades. Frontman James Hetfield pushed for more excitement from the crowd as the band played hit after hit such as “Ride the Lightning,” “Fuel” (personalized with San Francisco references and lots of pyrotechnics), and “The Memory Remains.”
I snuck out to rush myself to the other end of the festival grounds to see some songs from Sigur Rós. The main path wasn’t as crammed, but it still took a while to get there in time to hear some quasi-ambient electronic pop from the Icelandic band. The sun had completely set by this time, so their light show was perfect for their sound and the mood of the crowd.
I heard a few songs before I rushed back to catch Metallica’s conclusion. The legendary heavy metal band performed “Nothing Else Matters,” with a long outro that segued into arguably their biggest song, “Enter Sandman,” the last song before the encore. The crowd roared. During the second encore, Metallica concluded Saturday’s festival event with “Seek and Destroy,” which greatly satisfied their happy fans.