Outside Lands Journal: Day 3, 8/13/17

by Dakin Hardwick on August 21, 2017

Karl The Fog even showed up to see Lee Fields

We arrived at Day Three of Outside Lands, commonly known as “Sunday” to the real world. There was definitely a different energy in the air within the park, as much of the crowd was unaware of the extent of the activity happening in Charlottesville, VA the day before, and you could kind of see that a lot of people were trying to muster up the motivation to be there. There was really only one person on this Earth capable of taking that feeling when humanity has let you down, and it seems like there is nothing left to look forward to — so we were damn lucky that he was booked to play at 12:15 on the Lands End stage.

Lee Fields & The Expressions

Lee Fields & The Expressions are a powerhouse of a band. They are old-school soul music, doing exactly like it was done in 1969 when Fields released his first record. His voice rings with pure passion, and he managed to get the sizable crowd (for being the first act on the last day of a festival) up & moving. He sang songs of love and perseverance, never once directly bringing up current events, while still showing us that we can rise above it all.

An Annotated Guide to Eating Well with Action Bronson

Photo By Ben Irwin

After Fields’ performance, we slowly made our way over to the Gastromagic stage to find it already packed solid — for something simply titled, “An Annotated Guide to Eating Well with Action Bronson.” I was expecting this to be Action Bronson reading from his book, maybe talking with a local restaurateur, and doing a song or two. Instead, we had Tony Cevrone of Souvla, a fine casual Greek eatery in SF, on stage with Bronson, and he brought a ton of food from his restaurant, which they simply started throwing into the crowd. Not just small samples, either — full meals in boxes, pints of yogurt, large sandwiches, and so on. Humans being humans, once we were faced with the prospect of free food, the performance went from being a civilized affair to full-on Lord Of The Flies-level anarchy. People were climbing on top of each other to get their pork shoulder sandwiches, and somebody even scaled a tree in order to get a meal thrown to him. The boldest moment, of course, came when an entire lamb leg was tossed into the crowd and passed along. (I’m pretty sure this was all practice for Armageddon, and since all I ended up getting was a single cube of [amazing] lamb, I’m pretty sure I won’t survive long once we hit the end of the world). Bronson did play a song, but I really don’t remember anything about it because we were still cleaning up after the chaos.

Bleachers

Photo by Ben Irwin

 

It’s a little sad to be coated in food without actually getting to eat any, and with all of the chicken sandwiches that had flown over my head, I decided I actually needed one, and that helped me decide what I was going to enjoy next. I picked up a sandwich at Proposition Chicken, and wolfed it down while Bleachers played a set on the Lands End stage behind me. I had never been a fan of their records, but this live show was amazing. Fronted by fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, this was a set of unadulterated, pure Springsteen-inspired rock-n’-roll, full of huge choruses, epic sax solos, and Antonoff putting his entire body into the performance. Not bad for something that I only stumbled across because I was hungry.

Young The Giant

Photo by Ben Irwin

I opted to just stay comfortable at the Lands End stage, which proved to to be an excellent decision as the next band up was Young The Giant. I’d kind of forgotten about this band, as I saw them frequently in the early part of the decade, and stopped paying attention. In the last six years, they became a live performance powerhouse, with lead singer Sameer Gadhia reminding me of the perfect synthesis of Cat Stevens and Mick Jagger. The band kept sliding between folk, radio rock, and world music with ease. It was another fine surprise.

Lorde

Lorde was up next, and hers was one of the most highly anticipated sets of the festival. This is her first time in the Bay Area since the release of her sophomore album Melodrama, and, for much of the audience, this was their first time seeing Lorde at all. Thankfully, this particular set did not disappoint. She come out to a nearly bare stage, with only her small four piece band backing her. Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” faded out, forcing us to make a now obvious comparison throughout the set, and she jumped straight into “Tennis Court.” She kept the facade of minimalism going through the next song, but slowly throughout the set, we had dancers dressed in all blue slowly appear on stage. The choreography was closer to classical ballet than modern pop dancing, supporting Lorde’s dark interpretation of the latter with emotional scenes to accompany her songs. The only time the set veered from this was when she pulled Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff from backstage to do a quick acoustic duet of Paul Simon’s “Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard.” Her set was a stunning display of artistry, proving that Lorde is in this for the long haul, and is determined to keep her work consistently inventive.

Roy Woods Jr, Shane Torres, Sam Morril, Amy Miller, Irene Tu

I returned to The Barbary Stage just in time to catch what appeared to be one of the best lineups of the festival. This was a standup set hosted by one of the best comics working in the Bay Area today — Irene Tu — telling a brief set of relevant jokes, particularly a bit of what it’s like to be an androgynous-looking person using the restroom. (Turns out that it doesn’t go over well.) Former Bay Area resident Amy Miller was next, doing a set that was slightly less political than her last visit home, but which still hit home with some potent belly laughs. Sam Morril pulled out a decent set of mostly dry, observational humor. Shane Torres, who is prepping to release his first record, opened up with an extended set about Guy Fieri — specifically, everything “good” about Fieri: discussing his charity work, and what it’s like to work with the guy, and how unfair it is that people speak so poorly about him. (Torres then did the same with Nickelback.) The set was closed out by Daily Show correspondent Roy Woods Jr., whose set was filled with the kind of biting political commentary you’d expect, only wearing a hoodie that says “DAMN.” on it instead of his signature suit.

I’m not going to give away any bits, but my favorite part of his set was this line about being a black man at a Muslim-ban rally: “Somebody asked me why I’m here, because this cause doesn’t directly affect me. And I told them that I came here because if I don’t help stop them from coming for you, they will come for me next.” It was a profound, and properly timed, moment of dialogue.

Solange

My Outside Lands experience was closed with a performance by the younger Knowles sister Solange. Supported by a full band, complete with horns and backup singers, Solange did a great job of proving her own without trying to emulate her sister. She created a dark and cerebral affair, with a stage bathed in red lights, and the music was dark and covered us in its matching tones. Her band — dancers, singers, and players alike — was fully choreographed, moving deliberately and succinctly throughout the set. This was an impressive and moving performance, and a great way to end the 10th year of one of the finest music festivals in the USA.

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