Spinning Platters Tackles Your Tough Outside Lands 2011 Decisions

by Dakin Hardwick on August 7, 2011

We will make this a little easier for you to navigate.

For four years running now, the good people at Another Planet and Superfly have put together a massive outdoor music festival in the part of San Francisco so far west that most people don’t even know it exists. The weather is unpredictable, the terrain in this portion of Golden Gate Park is difficult, and with 5 stages, decisions are always tough to make. Well, all I can say about the first two is to bring layers and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes. As for who to see when? Well, I’ve studied the band schedule and the map, and based on my impeccable taste in music I am ready to present to you the most fulfilling plan for your Outside Lands experience.

Friday

Well, if you get there at noon, you have 3 choices: New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Release The Sunbird, and Arann Harris & The Farm Band. I wasn’t familiar with any of these bands, so I opted to go to YouTube. I listened to one song of each, and determined that your first band is the lazy, jazzy stylings of Arann Harris & The Farm Band at the Panhandle Stage.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKJ8PJLip8o

But don’t get too comfortable, because you need to hop over to the Twin Peaks Stage (don’t worry, it’s close) to see Oakland rapper K. Flay. Yes, you can see her pretty often in this town, but she’s really awesome, so I still think you should enjoy her 12:45 slot. But, if you don’t want to spend too much time with a local, you can high tail it across the park to the Sutro Stage to catch the 1:10 slot, and you will enjoy the danceable rock of the Welsh band The Joy Formidable. This band is a favorite of the SpinningPlatters crew, and on top of that, this is my favorite stage in all of Outside Lands. It has the best sight lines, and the design of Lindley Meadow somehow has the best acoustics on this side of the park. You can keep your dancing shoes on for the dark synth pop of Phantogram at 2:25.

You could easily spend the day at the Sutro stage, and you’d have a killer music festival. But, if you really want to get your money’s worth, you really should keep moving. After Phantogram’s set, you should see shoegaze chanteuse Tamaryn back at the Panhandle Stage,  then slip right over to the nearby Twin Peaks stage to see dreamy pop act Toro Y Moi at 3:50. Yes, you will miss Foster The People, but I feel that this band really doesn’t deserve the hype that they are getting, and if you follow my guide, you will be up close and personal with some better music. The being said, you really should jump back over to the Sutro stage for the 5:00 set by the UK’s Ellie Goulding.

Yes, seeing I know you may be tempted to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Twin Peaks Stage, and you should check them out for a few minutes, but get back to Sutro to see the underrated half of Outkast, Big Boi do his thing. Because he will do a heavy sampling of Outkast material, including Bombs Over Baghdad, which is one of my all time favorite live songs, and also because his most recent release, Sir Luscious Left Foot, is one of the best hip hop records of the decade. But, you need to run back to the Twin Peaks Stage to see Big Audio Dynamite. Yes, it’s a long haul. The secret? Be brave and run behind the porta potties lining the perimeter of the venue. Yes, it may smell a little, but there is no traffic. The stench makes you move faster, too. And since they never tour, this will be your only chance to dance to this song live:

Closing out the Sutro Stage is the great Erykah Badu. She usually runs a little late, so you can enjoy all of BAD, and probably still have plenty of time to see one of the greatest living performers. And, if you still have energy, you’ve got festival headliners Phish on the big Lands End Stage, who have a disturbing set time on 6:30-10, so you can always catch a few moments of them. You also can watch the band that changed Natalie Portman’s life: The Shins. Or you can go home and get some rest because the next day will be very, very busy.

Saturday

Well, if you woke up on time to enjoy a full day, you can start right away at noon for the soulful country sounds of Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers at the Sutro Stage. Her voice is a great way to start your day. But the best way to get your blood flowing will be to run over to the Panhandle Stage to see Mexico City’s Ximena Sarinana at 1:25, who is one of the pop music world’s little hidden treasures.

After Ximena, you’ve got two rather funky options: you could hear some rare grooves spun in the DJ tent, known as The Domes, by Ren The Vinyl Archaeologist or you can hear some live funk on the Lands End Stage by the amazing Greyboy Allstars. Either one will do the body & soul some good. The rest of the day is pretty difficult. I’d love to be everywhere at once, but at 2:55 you need to see Sonny & The Sunsets. They play fun, 60’s pop rock. And they live in the Sunset, so they are far more local than any other band playing.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRTQuFCuJio

After Sonny, you should run over to The Barbary stage to catch the end of Paul F Thomkins‘ set, then you really should go to the Twin Peaks Stage to see STRFKR. They are both weirder and more accessible than you would ever imagine a band with this name. Of course, you should stick around this stage to see the criminally underrated former vocalist for Zero 7, SIA, belting out her sexy torch songs. She also once did a killer set of duets from Grease with Beck a few years ago.

Next, of course, is the absolute worst conflict of the festival. Who books The Black Keys and The Roots at the same time? Well, The Black Keys are at 6:15. They are playing on the big stage where almost everyone crowds around all day. So you should watch 1/2 an hour of them from the back of the Polo Fields. Then, you should race over to Twin Peaks Stage to see a full hour from the legendary Roots crew. Because The Black Keys will keep playing shows, but The Roots, since they got their gig with Jimmy Fallon, don’t do full tours anymore. Therefore, this is your only chance for a while to see one of the greatest live acts in rock.

Now, you could beat the crowds and go home. But it’s only 8. Most people will be seeing Muse on the main stage. If you want to be bored to death by a series of overblown anthems. I won’t be seeing them. I will be checking out Paper Diamond‘s spazzy, twitchy beats before heading enjoying an even more frantic dance session with the best mash up artist since Kid 606, and the most famous mash up artist ever! Yes, I’m going to see Girl Talk, and you should, too. It will be better than Muse. Trust me.

Sunday

After two days of trekking around Golden Gate Park, one could use a little religion. And there is nothing more spiritual than opening the day with the amazing classic soul of Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band. And once you have that burst of soul, you need to go see tUnE-yArDs at the Sutro Stage. Believe the hype- their blend of African beats, layered vocalizing, hot horns, and killer ukulele playing. Merrill Garbus, the mind and soul of tUnE-yArDs  may be one of the most talented people in America.

Still in the mood to be blown away by an insanely talented woman? The great Mavis Staples of the legendary Staples Singers is going to totally blow your mind. Because that’s what she does. And when she’s done, you should head back to Sutro Stage to see Latryx featuring Lyrics Born & Lateef, two of the most gifted wordsmiths in hip hop. Don’t worry about leaving this stage. You should be able to get up nice & close to the beautiful & talented Julieta Venegas. Sure, you might not understand a word she’s singing, but she can sing it well. She also plays accordion. It’s an awesome instrument.

John Fogerty wrote some of the most memorable songs in the history of rock as the frontman for Creedence Clearwater Revival. He still puts out solid records on a regular basis, but devotes the majority of his set to classic CCR songs. He also still has the energy of a man half his age, with the skills of a veteran. If you care about the history of rock n roll in any way shape or form, you will check out Mr Fogerty.

After a fabulous history lesson, it would be wise to jump back to the Sutro Stage to enjoy the futuristic, quirky pop stylings of Little Dragon. The next portion is another difficult overlap- The Decemberists and Beirut. They both share equal legendary status in the indie world, and in my humble opinion are both really only good for a sampling in this environment. I say you should do 30 minutes of each of them. Unless Sarah Watkins is still playing with The Decemberists. Then you should stay watching them.

So, my hunch is you want to end your Outside Lands Experience with a great memory. You want to see something big and beautiful. You think that you want to see Arcade Fire. You are wrong. There is another Canadian act that deserves your attention. You need to see the Deadmau5.Why? Because he has the most amazing light show in the world.

Although, they did just add legendary comedian Gallagher to The Barbary stage. He’s going on at 8 PM. That could be cool, too.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian August 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

thanks for the post, you’ve definitely alerted me to some new music that I’ll check out at OSL. What’s funny is that you nearly skipped over almost every single “don’t miss, love these guys” act for me on the schedule: Phish, Junip, !!!, STS9. i guess that’s why music festivals are the greatest.

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drcid777 August 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Thank you for all the details, very helpful. I’ve been going since the first night, pushing over fences to get to Radiohead after Beck. I disagree with you strongly about Muse but I’m glad you like Girl Talk, I couldn’t believe they were 4th headliner, after Arcade Fire!
I love ’em but didn’t know that many people had heard their music, especially their last disc with GT burning in the front yard. Thanks for the timelines

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drcid777 August 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Also – The Black Keys and The Roots…unbelievable..,agreed

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