Live Review: Outside Lands Festival

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WHERE: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA

WHEN: August 12-14

HIGHLIGHT: A healthy mix of national acts and a platform for local bands to shine

Though it’s not very old compared to its contemporaries, Outside Lands has, in its fourth year, settled comfortably into its status as a must-see summer music festival for the West Coast. This year’s event brought lots of big names to Golden Gate Park, as well as up-and-comers. Not only did it include FM-radio regulars like Muse, MGMT and OK Go, it made room for bands on the rise.

On day one, San Jose’s The Limousines drew a crowd at the Panhandle solar stage. The Limousines, whose career has grown exponentially over the course of the last year thanks to backing from local DJs and media, put on a well-received live show, being joined by Street Drum Corps members for a few numbers. The crowd responded passionately, braving the winds and mist that descended on the park, and singing their hits “Internet Killed the Video Star” and “Very Busy People” back at them. The Limousines made use of the usual guitar, drums, and keys, but also incorporated an iPad into several songs – an appropriate instrument for the Silicon Valley natives.

On day two, San Francisco’s The Stone Foxes lit up the Sutro Stage and filled up the surrounding entry pavilion very quickly, a notable accomplishment for an early-afternoon start time. The sun had come out, and The Stone Foxes blazed through a very rock ‘n’ roll set – girls screaming for the long-haired guitarist, clouds of weed floating over the crowd, and a decibel level that surely gave The Who a run for their Guinness record.

Outside Lands was a happy homecoming for the locals, who recently finished up a U.S. tour. “This was always the top for us,” says drummer Shannon Koehler. It’s been a long road for the band, who got their start at San Francisco State University, just a short drive south of the park. “We have a great team behind us – good management, a good publicist,” says Koehler. “And we’ve learned that being nice really pays off.”

On the last day, local band Diego’s Umbrella got things started around noon on the Twin Peaks stage. Diego’s Umbrella have been at it for a while, and Outside Lands proved a fitting venue for their distinctive sound, which incorporates an amalgam of worldly genres – Diego’s Umbrella have long been famous for taking a little bit of this, a little bit of that, injecting it with a healthy sense of humor and calling the result “gypsy pirate polka.” Only in San Francisco…

As the day went on, crowds took in more festival newcomers at the Panhandle stage. Ty Segall made a particularly impressive (and, once again, quite loud) Outside Lands debut to a giddy crowd, and Wye Oak and The Infamous Stringdusters rounded out the final day of the festivities.

photos by Jayne Liu

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