Outside Lands 2013 may have been my favorite OSL yet. It was my favorite line up so far, and the weather was amazing. It never got too cold, nor did it get too hot. Also, I got to see two legendary, groundbreaking musicians that essentially rewrote how we listen to music. Not a bad way to enjoy a day in the park…
My first band of the day was local synth pop buzz makers Midi Matilda. I don’t know if they were swallowed whole by the enormity of the Twin Peaks stage, the second largest of the festival, but there was something definitely lacking with this set. They are a two piece: a singer and a drummer, with most of the music heard on stage coming from a recording. The singer both looked and danced like the love child of Davey Havoc of AFI and Perez Hilton. They managed to destroy Smokey Robinson’s “Just My Imagination,” turning it into an 80’s pop meltdown. Not the best way to kick of the weekend.
Much, much better was The Heavy over at the Sutro stage. This soul/rock hybrid band from Baths, UK brought their full force 2 PM set. These guys are total pros. Lead singer Kelvin Swaby is equal parts swagger, passion, vocal chops, and has just enough punk rock FU to make him the total package as a frontman. Guitarist Dan Taylor balances between metal power chords and r&b riffage with ease, and, all in all, it was one helluva set.
Eugene Mirman and Kate Berlant
This year, The Barbary tent was curated by SF Sketchfest for the entire weekend. As locals know, SF Sketchfest is possibly the best three weeks of live comedy programming any where in the world. They rarely book the superstars, opting to bring you cult comics that are incredibly gifted. Kate Berlant impressed with 15 minutes of material- very vibrant and physical on stage. She was followed by one of the single most underrated funnymen on the circuit today; Eugene Mirman. This guy is great- his droll wit sneaks up on you, and before you know it, you are in tears. He even brought some OSL experiences into the mix, specifically telling an amazing story about how he accidentally ended up stumbling across Paul McCartney’s lunch service. (I can relate to this. Once, while I was working a festival, I accidentally brought my team’s lunch on stage with Dinosaur Jr.)
The National are a unique kind of band. I feel that the best situation to see them in is the festival setting. They kill when they do festivals. Lead singer Matt Beringer always sounds amazing, no matter what the situation. However, when doing festivals, Beringer gets wonderfully goofy. Unlike headlining shows, where the band stays awfully serious, he will climb through the crowd, and, in general, really let’s loose. At this show, they had a series of special guests, including Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and local string experimentalist Kronos Quartet. And, seriously, the version of Trouble Will Find Me’s “Don’t Swallow The Cap,” with Kronos Quartet literally sent chills down my spine.
Chic featuring Nile Rogers
D’angelo’s last minute cancellation made me very sad. I was excited to finally see this genius in person. However, a last minute medical problem caused him to need to stay home. Somehow, the good folks that put on the festival managed to find a last minute replacement that is not only more gifted than D’angelo, but is an actual living legend that essentially created a whole new style of guitar playing. Yes, I’m talking about the highly influential Nile Rogers and his band Chic. Not only did Rogers essentially invent that funky guitar playing style that was duplicated by thousands of other players (including Sunday night headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, who owe a major debt to Chic), he also produced some the of the most innovative dance records of the last 30 years. The guy has also beat cancer twice. He’s a superhero.
The set itself was a fun party. They opened with the disco classic “Everybody Dance.” Rogers was center stage with two female vocalists on either side, backed by horns, keys, a cracker jack drummer, and a killer bassist. Everyone dressed on all white suits. It was a classy performance and tight performance that get everyone dancing.
The hour long set was far too brief. However, they made the best of it. They covered not only Chic material, but also plenty of songs that Rogers had a hand in producing and writing. The crowd went absolutely insane during a performance of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” The energy level stayed high in the crowd during disco classics “Le Freak” and an epic version of “Good Times” that they segued into “Rapper’s Delight.” Even a recording of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” produced by Nile Rogers, got the crowd in a dancing frenzy.
Dance Dance Dance
I Want Your Love
I’m Coming Out -> Upside Down -> He’s The Greatest Dancer -> We Are Family
Good Times -> Rapper’s Delight -> Good Times
My expectations of Paul McCartney’s day 1 headlining set were awfully high. I wasn’t expecting Sir Paul to actually exceed those expectations. I didn’t think it was even possible. It was.
McCartney is, arguably, the most influential musician alive today. He is a legend, and this performance only cemented that reputation. His set, which was roughly 3 hours long, was chock full of the songs that made him a legend. From the opening notes of “Eight Days A Week,” McCartney turned the enormous Polo Field of Golden Gate Park into an intimate fireside sing a long. The set, primarily made up of Beatles songs, with a smattering of Wings and solo material, did exactly what the original Beatles set out to do: unify the masses.
Words can barely describe the joy that McCarney brought me. Each song was another joyful expression of love and life. After about an hour or so of simply impressive performances of great songs, he started pulling out some surprises. He played a series of songs that were performed in San Francisco for the first time ever, including “All Together Now,” a song that I forgot about until the moment he started playing it, prompting me to pogo frantically. George Harrison’s “Something” began as a solo ukulele number with just McCartney on stage- a move that only a Beatle can pull off- before the band came back on stage to finish the song in the style of the original recording. “Live & Let Die” was punctuated by so many fireworks that it looked like the entire stage was on fire. The Kronos Quartet came back on stage to do the original string arrangement to “Yesterday,” which was another first time performance.
McCartney deserves all of the praise he has received over the years. Way to go, Sir Paul.
Eight Days a Week
Magical Mystery Tour
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
San Francisco Bay Blues
We Can Work It Out
And I Love Her
Your Mother Should Know
All Together Now
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hi, Hi, Hi
Carry That Weight