Outside Lands 2011 | San Francisco | Review | Pics

Words by: Bryan Tobian, Dennis Cook & Chris Clark | Images by: Josh Miller, Dave Vann & Casey Flanigan

Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival :: 08.12.11-08.14.11 :: Golden Gate Park :: San Francisco, CA

Jump right to Dave Vann's pics here!

Jump right to Josh Miller's pics here!

Jump right to Casey Flanigan's STS9 pics here!

Friday

Outside Lands 2011 by Dave Vann
A sea of droopy Eucalyptus trees flutter and sway in the distance, fuzzy like a monochromatic Van Gogh painting of swirling grays set upon a canvas of an enveloping white-fog sky. As the misty morning creeps unnoticeably into afternoon, northbound traffic on 19th Street begins to thicken en route to the entrance of San Francisco's legendary Golden Gate Park. The park is a vast, tree-lined sprawl of rolling fields, meticulously pruned gardens and magnificent, winding trails leading three miles from the historically vibrant Haight-Ashbury district to the boundless sapphire expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Designed and manifested in the late 1800's by William Hall and John McLaren, the park is something of a modern marvel; a thousand acre floral and faunal ecosystem with local and foreign wildlife flourishing in the California clay terra. Even more spectacular is that this magnificent park was created out of what has been described as a barren, untamed stretch of sandy dunes dubbed suitably by the locals of the day as the 'Outside Lands'.

This mid-August afternoon, nearing the rebirth of California's yearly elongated Indian summer is the beginning of the park's 4th annual Outside Lands Music Festival. Officially announced this year by Mayor Edwin Lee as a city holiday, the festival is an ever-expanding hodgepodge of music, multimedia technology and local gastronomical and vinicultural fare. Rife with hip energy, it exudes a vibe different than the traditional large scale music festival. Perhaps it is the cool Mediterranean climate, the 10 pm nightly park curfew where everyone eventually returns to a bed and a shower, or the unapologetically high brow lineup of a class of music that rests comfortably on the nerdy fringe of mainstream. The air does not permeate sweat, sage and cigarette smoke, but smells of sweet Eucalyptus and trendy perfume; there is more designer wear than tie-dye and people complain more about poor quality of cell phone reception than the quality of party favors. The sub-bass booms of vaguely intelligible music can be heard from day one's hording entrance line as people swig down the last of their less expensive store-bought booze with anticipation, some cursing themselves for missing the first half of Collie Buddz as they matriculate through the gate. With each new entrant's passage comes a smile, a high five or two, and an excited promenade down the dusty trail to a thumping stage. (Bryan Tobian)

Dennis’ Friday Highlights

Environmentalists At Play by Dave Vann
K.Flay :: 12:45 PM - 1:30 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

From the look of her, K.Flay is a slip of a thing who orders a soy latte in front of you at a café while thumbing through a dog-eared copy of a David Foster Wallace novel. But that ALL flies away when she jumps behind the decks and begins to rock the mic with great abandon. “Hey, San Francisco, you wanna go on an adventure? Yeah, me, too,” snickered one of the sauciest, most surprising finds at this year’s OSL. This ultra-DIY, give-it-away-to-the-kids underground SF phenom comes on with the winning, tongue in your ear headiness of great trip hop combined with verbal gymnastics somewhere between Buck 65, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Rakim and Kate Bush. She’s got major stage presence and an ease with even a large, early arriving crowd like the one gathered at Twin Peaks, but more importantly, she’s got great songs with irresistible hooks and beats. Joined by a live drummer at OSL, this firebrand proved one of this year’s MVP’s, a good time that lingered long after she took her bow. (DC)

The Original Meters :: 2:50 PM - 4:05 PM :: Lands End Stage

As Jim James once chimed, “We are the innovators. They are the imitators.” If ever four gentlemen had a right to sling that one it’s The Original Meters - George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste, Leo Nocentenelli and Art Neville - who put on a clinic on the meaning and tactile voodoo of funk in their afternoon set. Hearing the cats who originated this sound grin and strut their way through what amount to standards in New Orleans (and anywhere else folks carry their water) was an utter delight. These guys swing so freakin’ hard AND make it look as easy as walking. Neville laid it on thick n’ greasy at the organ while one of the poppingest rhythm teams of all time danced with one another, rusty razor guitar slicing through it all as Leo flexed in all the right places. The sense of mutual appreciation onstage was endearing, and it was met by equally effusive waves of affection from the continually swelling midday audience who moved happily to the artful string pulling of these masters. (DC)

Release The Sunbird :: 12:00 PM - 12:40 PM :: Sutro Stage

Hard to imagine a nicer glide into a day of music in Golden Gate Park than this freshly minted side project for Rogue Wave’s Zach Rogue. Touring behind their quietly knockout debut album Come Back To Us (released July 26), this was only the third gig for Release The Sunbird, and while they’re still clearly getting their road legs under them, there’s so much going on to charm and stroke one’s senses that the hiccups mattered little. A touch pastoral, a touch pop and altogether uplifting in an really unforced way, their sound lured folks downfield from the new entrance spot to the festival, an intoxicating finger beckoning them closer along the breeze. A closing cover of Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere” put a skipping bit of punctuation on a set that bodes really well for this gently powerful new group. (DC)

Bryan’s Friday Highlights

MGMT by Josh Miller
Lotus :: 2:15 PM - 3:05 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

Even though the early afternoon sun was nowhere to be found and it wasn't nearly dark enough to see their usually stellar light show, Lotus presented a most enthusiastic performance at the vividly dressed Twin Peaks stage. The venue is tucked in the back of the Speedway Meadow with large surrounding hills that encapsulate the band's huge, resonating thunder, exploding it outwards into an expansive field. The quartet's style blends straight ahead instrumental jazz with rock 'n' roll and a myriad of electronic genres. Their sound is a smooth interlacing of guitars and synthesizers over funky-cool jazz-rock drums that are melded delicately with driving dance beats. Since the Friday afternoon audience was only packed in loosely past the soundboard, the extra real estate gave more ability for fresh legs to dance and flow freely to the ever-evolving syncopated bass lines of Jesse Miller. As the set progressed, the band gave a nod to their electronic capabilities with their synth-pop jam “The Surf,” complete with swirling vocoders and catchy synth harmonies. The full-on wompy attack that followed eventually eased into the laid back crowd pleaser “Spiritualize.” This breezy ditty allowed guitarist Mike Rempel to show off his chops, picking airy melodies over silken grooves. As the tune waned, again showing off the group's wares, brother Luke Miller played a rap sample, to which the band jumped in with distorted, rock guitar stabs, filter sweeping synthesizer and edgy rock drums for an energetic finale of “Bush Pilot.” (BT)

MGMT :: 4:35 PM - 5:45 PM :: Lands End Stage

The electro-pop rock crew MGMT took the stage to the delight of the heavily populated Land's End stage on the Polo Field. The band was bookended on their platform by two psychedelic Warhol-esque video animations whose vibrantly morphing pictures played along perfectly with the music. “Electric Feel” had the crowd singing and dancing fervently before switching up the pace into the eerie twang of “The Youth” accented by ethereal organ-like synth pads. To end the set in grand style, the band broke into their 15 minute, multi-genre voyage “Siberian Breaks.” The song starts with a gypsy feeling, minor chord progression that settles into an Irish folk beat. A tremblingly slow and cautious build leads to a triumphant release before recapping with the gypsy style outro. (BT)

Phish :: 6:30 PM - 10:00 PM :: Lands End Stage

Phish by Dave Vann
After each set the massive audience drains of those who need to refill drinks, use the restroom or go to another stage. This is the time when, like a salmon, one must swim upstream against the current of anxious faces, over blankets, backpacks, resting bodies and mounds of trash, finding the sweetest spots where the lights and sound can be best appreciated. A little bit of foresight and preparation are worth the opportunity to see the main event in full effect, especially one as viscerally stimulating as these innovators of improvisation, the legendary pioneers of the rock and roll cosmos - Phish. Vermont's Phinest took the stage at 6:30 sharp in high San Francisco summer style, donning leather and suede jackets, button down shirts and a sweatshirt to battle the chill. The four of them and the thousands of us embarked on a monumental, two set, three-and-a-half- hour romp through more than two dozen songs. And, while the most hardcore phans would cringe at the thought of 27 songs without any twenty minute explorations, each selection was performed with tight fidelity, stretching out for small jams and returning to Earth quickly enough to keep the attention of a mostly novice audience.

Highlights came left and right throughout both sets as the band and their fifth member, lighting designer Chris Kuroda, interlocked perfectly for a most synchronic performance. Overall, the entire show was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the weekend as an abundance of explosive solos by the virtuosic guitar Jedi, Trey Anastasio, revved the band into overdrive. Interplaying like a puzzle was the twinkling shimmer added by Page McConnell on his Yamaha concert grand with Mike Gordon's walloping bass grooves. Following them each with a different limb, the polyrhythmic Jon Fishman propelled the show like an engine from behind his percussion cockpit.

The encore began with the funky breakbeat allegory “Cavern,” which saw Anastasio and Gordon doing a little tongue-in-cheek unison line dancing, all while never missing a beat or change in the song. A final, majestic “Tweezer Reprise,” building in intensity with both the sound and lights, overloaded the audience with strobed perfection for a final mind blowing apex. With great fervor, the four Horsemen of the Jampocalypse belted out their final riff, Trey thanked the crowd, and they released one more concluding roar under halogen fireworks, adjourning their West Coast summer tour and the first night of Outside Lands 2011. The overflowing park exploded like a broken dam, releasing a tidal wave of people onto the streets of the San Francisco Panhandle to party in The City's maze of bars, clubs and concert halls late into the pastel twilight. (BT)

DJ Down Low Loretta Brown - Friday Late Night – Mezzanine

DJ Down Low Loretta Brown by Kevin Lee
Having been a fan of Erykah Badu since the early days of Baduizm, even before “Back in the Day,” Friday night’s Outside Lands late night set at Mezzanine was perhaps the highlight of the weekend’s festivities for me. Badu came to SF as her musical alter ego, DJ Down Low Loretta Brown, back in mid-April to much fanfare, but I was unfortunately out of town. This time around, I was happily able to see her back for one of the most memorable DJ sets I’ve encountered in some time. Playing at the festival the following evening at the Sutro Stage, Badu came to town early, supported by surprise special guest EPMD (Erik Sermon and Redman) who, unbeknownst to most, were prepared to slay the Mezzanine crowd before Badu even got close to the stage. Playing roughly a dozen tracks with Dave Chappelle hanging around close, the surprise arrival of EPMD was a delectable appetizer before the late night’s main course hit the stage.

By the time 1 am came around, the club’s throng seemed to be wondering just when DJ Down Low Loretta Brown would arrive. Not long after, Badu arose and the fervor in the then-packed club reached peak excitement. Performing a seductive, sensuously eclectic set selected from classic soul staples, old school hip hop and even some Prince, she flowed effortlessly throughout an hour-long set that was accentuated by the likes of Ghostface Killah and the Bay’s own E40 mixed in with more subtle funk and soul tracks. The result was a sweat-soaked affair that had people on the dance floor that attentively hung on her every track, much like seeing her in her more widely known incarnation of Erykah Badu. (Chris Clark)

Continue reading for Saturday’s highlights...

Saturday

The sun peeked through the blinds and curtains around the city as many festival-goers slept in. For some, it had been a long first day traversing the rolling stretches between stages, trying to fit in as much musical exploration as possible in the chill of unrelenting fog. For others, it had been a long week at work with unforgiving deadlines and traffic-laden commutes. But eventually, everyone rolled out of bed, checked Facebook, took a shower, donned their Saturday sexiest, ate something at the cafe down the block and streamed torrentially into Golden Gate Park for a gloriously sunny second day at Outside Lands. (BT)

Dennis’ Saturday Highlights

Arctic Monkeys by Josh Miller
The Stone Foxes :: 1:25 PM - 2:15 PM :: Sutro Stage

This is how rock ‘n’ roll should be done. This thought kept cropping up as I witnessed these young, hungry San Francisco hard-chargers take possession of the big Sutro stage and the rowdy throng that grew & grew during their reputation building set. These Foxes exude the feel and attitude of vintage titans like the Faces and early 70s Rolling Stones backed up by memorable tunes and all the chops and vocal moxie one could want. Even more than usual, the band seemed ready to prove something – anything – as long as they had the forum to do so, striding with confidence, trading off lead vocals and leaping into the crowd with an authority that exceeds their years. Last year’s Bears & Bulls revealed a broader range than their debut, and the new songs all shined in the park, particularly a stripped down, emotionally exposed take on “Passenger Train,” the delightfully impolite rawker extraordinaire “Patience” and the sung-through-a-harmonica-mic closing rave-up on “Mr. Hangman.” The warm reception, including a late in the set mosh pit up front, seemed to knock the boys off their feet and fuel some endearingly goofy between song dialog with the audience. If they keep playing like this The Stone Foxes should get used to this kind of response, and there’s every indication these guys are just getting rolling. (DC)

Arctic Monkeys :: 4:45 PM - 5:45 PM :: Lands End Stage

As a truly astonishing amount of people settled into the main field to claim their spots for MGMT and Muse later in the day, the descendents of brainy working class British rock in the vein of The Kinks and The Jam delivered a nigh flawless exhibition of their sharply drawn tales of lust, labor and life on the street. There’s absolutely no jam to this band, all the songs delivered in neat, punchy versions that followed the studio templates but added oomph and swagger befitting a main stage act. Alex Turner (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) sang with impressive speed and agility, riding the slicing, propulsive waves thrown out by Jamie Cook (lead guitar, backing vocals), Nick O'Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals), the quartet serving the material with a single-minded effectiveness that overcame the restless arriving masses and dodgy sound (a problem throughout the weekend due to high winds and frequent shifts in tone, volume and style on multiple stages). One after another, the tunes arrived and you could see people smiling as if to say, “Wow, that’s ANOTHER good one.” Yep, nary a dud in the bunch and offered up with fittingly workmanlike efficiency, too. (DC)

Old 97's :: 5:45 PM - 6:45 PM :: Sutro Stage

Rootsy and rockin’ and rollicking as all get out, Old 97’s sweated themselves and anyone willing to be sucked into their twister into a happy cyclone as the sun settled into the tree line. With 18 years of hard touring and reliably excellent albums behind them, the band took possession of the stage, commanding our attention with the sheer jubilation and solidity of their every move. They opened with recent corker “No Simple Machine,” one of a number of cuts from The Grand Theatre, Volume Two (released July 5) that dotted this set, showing a through-line of quality that runs from their earliest work right to today. They have such fun at what they do and are so, so, so anxious to see the audience have just as much fun that it’s just stupid to refuse them as they rattle off numbers about lovin’ and leavin’ and the time spent thinking in between the two. And the best part is they give it up like this at every show I’ve ever seen. Great band. See ‘em when you can, kids. (DC)

Bryan’s Saturday Highlights

The Black Keys by Dave Vann
OK GO :: 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM :: Lands End Stage

From the start, stages were fuller than the previous day as weekend warriors were now able to join in on the fun. The Lands End main stage was a continually swelling mass of people as the day progressed. Its theme, starting in the late afternoon, was progressively grungier, thrashier rock and rollers with classically grungy rock and roll attitudes. OK GO wore suits of green, blue, red and yellow to the stage for a poppy, punky show. Eventually putting down their guitars and drumsticks, they all gathered around a table filled with hand bells and did a hair-raising, music-box, a cappella ballad called “Return” that left the crowd silent. Near the end, they heckled this same silent crowd multiple times, eventually eliciting loud backup vocals for “This Too Shall Pass” as the midday sun roasted the park through the barrier of the ocean breeze. (BT)

The Black Keys :: 6:15 PM - 7:25 PM :: Lands End Stage

The free beer dried up in the press tent and, and as the evening germinated, the air caught its Pacific chill. Just as shoes were laced, pants unrolled and sweatshirts zipped, The Black Keys took the stage. From the get-go, they lit a musical fire, cooking their down home highway blues and making more noise than one would expect is allowed to come from just a guitar and a drum kit. Guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach exhibited powerful, Black Crowes style vocals. His guitar groove was often comparable to a dirty, Doors-esque base fraught with growling licks reminiscent of Jimmy Page's rampaging, high-octane blues-rock snarls. Patrick Carney's hammering toms and concrete beat kept heads bobbing and fists pumping as the audience seemed to really come alive more than they had all day. Together, the duo really brought an unrelentingly raw musical energy, more than a sound but also a feeling of being at the edge, wheels teetering on the side of a cliff, always almost out of control but always being held in by spaceship grade safety harnesses of catchy hooks and wrenching melodies. By the end, many in the audience had once again stripped themselves of their layers to cool off from such a fiery set. (BT)

Muse :: 8:10 PM - 9:55 PM :: Lands End Stage

Muse by Josh Miller
Muse would've been the biggest surprise of the weekend had their many live concert videos not been playing endlessly on the Palladia channel for the six months leading up to the festival. Nonetheless, the show was an overwhelming sensory assault of blistering strobes, intensely psychedelic video-animatronics and the elegantly quaking grunge of their thundering, euphonic sound-machine. Fittingly, the English band seems to be the 21st century descendant of Pink Floyd's somber, synth-rich aural atmospheres, David Bowie's appeal to the spectacular and Queen's unmatched operatic prowess. Vocals and instrumental composition of a refined, classical nature gave the band credence from the opening notes, demanding attention from a stunned audience. There was no point in the show when it felt alright to look away as guitarist/keytarist/pianist/frontman Matthew Bellamy often seemed like he was giving a political action speech - fervent and ominous over rich, droning, post-rock resplendence. The spider-eyed screens behind them morphed and distorted their live video feed like a hallucinogenic visual, sometimes with colorful traces hovering from their beings like auras of energy. Other times, Bellamy's face would appear in a matrix of flowing computer code, through an electrical circuit or multiplying infinitely into a Fibonacci-like pattern between blazing strobes and permeating lasers. Christopher Wolstenholme's bass, a heavily distorted fuzz, giving the low end a pulsating tremble much like a tank driving through a city street. Dominic Howard seemed to be detonating explosive charges on his drum kit as he laid the structure for the band's merciless raid on the unsuspecting audience. During the encore break, the two outer video screens displayed the dilated moon, personifying a face in the silent stage. Those who had already been transformed by the night howled feverishly until the band returned to hammer silver nails into the coffin, storming tumultuously to a blazing nuclear finish.

Dazedly wading through the crowd of glazed, lunatic eyes, wide like the moon and staring back from a thousand directions made for a disorienting walk back to the official path back to the meeting place. On this night, as the staggering masses poured out of the park like stars in the San Francisco galaxy, a Central Haight club, The Independent, was hosting the hottest late night ticket in town, a completely sold out soiree with one of the West Coast's favorite crews: Sound Tribe Sector 9.

STS9 Late Night

STS9 by Casey Flanigan
Take One
The house was already rumbling David Murphy's pummeling bass blasts as the entry line of eager partying people stretched solidly to the corner of the block. STS9 is what an octo-bot might sound like with his arms full of instruments, and might look like if his eyes shot kaleidoscopic laser beams. Their dedication is to the fusion of natural and synthetic sounds into a slinking, usually-dancey, groovy musical concord. With each member except drum savant Zach Velmer running something out of a laptop, the group continuously pushes the edge of sonic technology. Jeffrey Lerner joins Velmer to give the band a thick percussion groove, which Hunter Brown, David Phipps and Murph team up to fill with peaking harmonies. The whole crusade is followed intently by lighting designer Saxton Waller's soaring halogen color show. For any outsiders, this show was a true taste of an ideal night in the San Francisco live music scene. For the locals, it was another fantastic Saturday night in the microchip. After a few more post-show shenanigans in the deserted city streets, the glow of the full moon subsided and the sun rose triumphantly over the silvered bay. (BT)

Take Two

STS9's Murph by Casey Flanigan
It had been two and a half years since I’d seen STS9 live, or even listened to them. When the Outside Lands night shows were announced, I knew seeing them at the tiny Independent would offer a proper litmus test of how they’ve grown as a group and a chance to see what’s transpired over that two and a half year sabbatical. On Saturday night, it didn’t take long for STS9 to prove themselves still worthy and assure the packed-like-a-sardine-can crowd at one of SF’s most intimate venues they would not disappoint.

From 15-feet to the left of the stage, I watched as the quintet promptly warmed up and soon caught fire with a razing rendition of “Instantly,” complete with an extended Hunter Brown sample jam and following slick bass work from David Murphy. Rather immediately, it was readily apparently a few songs in that STS9 had become much more than just an instrumental live electronic group. Today’s STS9 focuses more on concise song compositions that lean more towards indie rock than exploratory electronic jamming. Highlights proliferated as the concluding portion of the first set took off and never came down from the new “Golden Gate” straight through a rousing, old-school rendition of “Ramone & Emiglio” and on to the set closing cover of “What is Love?”

STS9’s second set proved equally well-played and highly energetic, as Zach Velmer’s tenacity behind the drum kit coupled with Murphy and percussionist Jeffrey Lerner to provide the driven backdrop for guitarist Brown and keyboardist David Phipps to melodiously mesmerize through older favorites “Really What?,” “Evasive Maneuvers,” “Monkey Music” and “Kamuy.” Looking back over the last 10 years, this was undoubtedly one of the most pristine and precise renditions of “Monkey Music” I’d ever heard, as the song’s extended drum jam opening led flawlessly into its midsection and the funked-out, wah-wah infused ending. Encoring with “Somesing” was a fitting finishing touch to an exceptionally enjoyable full day and night of music in San Francisco. (CC)

Continue reading for Sunday’s highlights...

Sunday

Outside Lands 2011 by Dave Vann
It should come as no surprise that some people woke up on Day Three still fully dressed from the night before. They rolled out of bed, took some ibuprofen, brushed their teeth and had a bagel and a Red Bull on the drive to the park. The infinite afternoon yonder was once again painted a bright, cloudless blue even too sunny through polarized shades for sensitive eyes. On mornings like this, intentions of seeing Mavis Staples at 1:45 pm and !!! at 3:05 pm can unfortunately be too lofty. But Outside Lands Day Three still had many wonderful surprises left. (BT)

It’s difficult to pinpoint where to start in detailing the highlights at Outside Lands. Much like the previous two days, Sunday’s festival was a collection of some of the today’s most impressive musical outfits performing in one of the country’s most pristine landscapes. Spread across four stages (in addition to a comedy/performance tent and the Heineken Domes) over the western half of the park, Outside Lands proved that it was much more than just a jam-packed juggernaut of a lineup. Instead, it presented an artistic and nature filled exploration into two of San Francisco’s finest attributes - being a musical Mecca of sorts and one of the most beautiful cities you’ll ever visit. Taken together, the festival provided an exquisite backdrop to what life in the Bay is all about. (CC)

Chris’ Sunday Highlights

Major Lazer by Dave Vann
Major Lazer :: 4:40 PM - 5:30 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

As far as I’m concerned, if Diplo is involved, it’s going to be an enormous dance party. Not only is he one of the most sought after producers out there, but Diplo in the live setting brings with him a certain panache and raucousness that is rather unparalleled today. Teaming up with fellow producer extraordinaire Switch for Major Lazer, the two put together a bombastic, bass-fueled hour set decorated by tracks and remixes from their Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do album. Fan favorites abounded as the duo tore through speaker-rattling dancehall tracks until the relay stacks in the back lawn seemed to blow, presumably during the appropriate remix “Major Lazer like a G6.” With the Twin Peaks stage crowd exceedingly full front to back, Diplo and Switch fired up the frenzy as the classic “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” intro led seamlessly into their much-heralded club-banger “Pon de Floor.” Undoubtedly, this offered up one of the weekend’s musical highlights as the clear skies, sunshine and bass brought a crowd thousands strong into a quintessential Sunday afternoon dance party. (CC)

STS9 :: 6:15 PM - 7:15 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

Having seen STS9’s late night set at the Independent the previous night, I was looking forward to the Sunday late afternoon festival set being a continuation of the finely tuned show from the Independent. While Saturday’s two set show focused mostly on older crowd favorites like “Monkey Music,” “Evasive Maneuvers” and “What is Love?,” Sunday’s Outside Lands set centered primarily on the group’s newer material, most notably “Scheme” and “When the Dust Settles” off their new EP, When the Dust Settles. While only having an hour to get warmed up, get the party started and conclude the set, the quintet deftly wound through the seven song set, highlighted by a butter-smooth “ABCees” and a nicely reworked “Inspire Strikes Back.” One of the oldest songs in STS9’s current repertoire, “ISB” enjoyed a rather concise but impressive exploration of a fairly standard festival set. Fueled by Jeffrey Lerner and Zach Velmer’s percussive propensity, “Rent” closed the set in solid fashion, as the Frankenstein inducing guitar shifted smoothly into a nice full band foray to conclude. (CC)

Arcade Fire :: 8:10 PM - 9:40 PM :: Lands End Stage
Deadmau5 :: 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

Arcade Fire by Dave Vann
Sunday night boasted essentially two headliners as Arcade Fire graced the main Land Ends stage while Deadmau5 lit it up at the Twin Peaks stage. Luckily, they weren’t that far away and a 50/50 split sufficed just fine. This was my first time catching Arcade Fire and I was pleasantly surprised by their dexterity and musicianship in the live setting. Not only were they extremely engaging and the crowd singing along to every verse, but they seemed to emanate effortless energy through their songs while showcasing an enhanced ability to effectively take their music to the masses. Songs like “Keep the Car Running” truly captured both the essence of many of those who traveled from all corners of the country to make Outside Lands a reality and the attention of the massive main stage crowd. Throughout the half set or so that I was there, I couldn’t help but think that Arcade Fire would be absolutely amazing in a smaller venue where the entire experience could be contained into a colorful capsule of harmonies, energy and rock n’ roll.

What more can you say of live Deadmau5 than, “Wow.” Whether you’re an electronic music lover or you simply can’t stand the stuff, his production is so impressive it’s impossible to not be mesmerized by his wall of sound, ultra-decadent light show and the giant cube he plays atop. Walking up to the Twin Peaks stage mid-set, I came into one of the weekend’s largest and most boisterous dance parties, complete with throngs of teenagers sporting as many glow sticks as they could fit on their bodies. The lasers and screens, the excitement and the smiles on festivalgoer’s faces offered up a true representation of what Outside Lands is all about. People come to San Francisco to experience something invigorating and exciting, and the same is true with Outside Lands - a three day extravaganza where people came from all over to experience the beauty and wonder that is San Francisco. (CC)

Bryan’s Sunday Highlights

John Fogerty by Josh Miller
John Fogerty :: 4:45 PM - 5:45 PM :: Lands End Stage

John Fogerty's afternoon set was a nostalgic sing-along as he cranked through many of his solo hits, eventually leading into a variable medley of his Credence Clearwater Revival greats. The crooning voice of this San Francisco son is still as sharp and recognizable as it ever was; one of the defining characteristics of CCR. It was an easily digestible breath of fresh air late in a weekend of continuous musical astonishment. Young and old danced happily as Fogerty belted out “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary,” a truly stirring multi-generational moment. (BT)

STS9 :: 6:15 PM - 7:15 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

A second helping of Sound Tribe saw the Twin Peaks stage filled to the brim as swaying bodies with nodding heads were packed to the top of the concert bowl’s hills and well past the soundboard into the field. As the band once again found their groove the head bobbing turned into full on body undulations; rigid hands pumping wildly into the air to dubby bass grooves and firecracker drums. Even though it was the last day and this was the last chance to fit everything in, catching the full Sound Tribe set was worth missing Gallagher smash watermelons in the Barbary Tent as the band successfully put on a second of the most memorable performances of the weekend. It seems most certain that when the West Coast-based jam-tronica quintet returns to Outside Lands, they will be getting a better time slot. (BT)

The Infamous Stringdusters :: 7:15 PM - 7:55 PM :: Panhandle Solar Stage

The Panhandle Solar stage sat squarely between two solar panel rigs which powered both its sound and lighting equipment completely. While the sky began to darken a bit, The Infamous Stringdusters, a slick bluegrass five-piece, inspired a sunset hoedown. It was an interesting juxtaposition against the electronic sets it was sandwiched between but nonetheless generated the same amount of energy as the other so called 'dance music' genres. By the time the set was over, the stage lights shone brightly, powered by the immaculate energy of the day. The festival was seeing a most climactic end. (BT)

Deadmau5 :: 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM :: Twin Peaks Stage

Deadmau5 Fan by Josh Miller
The fabled electronic producer Deadmau5 took the grand finale slot, finishing out an awe inspiring gathering with one of the most sonically and visually stimulating acts of the weekend. His computer generated graphics, accented by glimmering strobes, followed cleverly along with his intricately constructed sonic collage. Layer after layer were painted onto the auditory canvas before the scene was changed completely to a new path, pressing different neural buttons and making for a captivating cherry on top of an already really sweet affair. At one point, he gave a little respect to his roots with a dirty remix of the Daft Punk slayer “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” a move that sent the crowd into hysteria. Within a few moments, a few more sparkles and flashes, a few more grinding bass grooves, Deadmau5 sent Outside Lands 2011 to its trumpeting conclusion with a phosphorescent bang. (BT)

Since its recent inception, Outside Lands has grown into a major player in the music festival market. This year, it featured acts that push the boundaries, walking the ultimate blurry line between science and art. It is shining the spotlight on brilliant people who are not only able to use 'music' and 'technology' in the same sentence but in a single captivating craft. In that regard, it is a truly cerebral gathering. However, being seated in one of the most beautiful manmade spaces on Earth, it can also be a humbling, spiritual revitalization. In its 4th year, Outside Lands Music Festival has only begun to hit its stride, blazing trails into the future of live entertainment. (BT)

Continue reading for Josh Miller’s pics from Outside Lands 2011...

Outside Lands 2011 Photos by Josh Miller

Continue reading for Dave Vann’s pics from Outside Lands 2011...

Outside Lands 2011 Photos by Dave Vann

Continue reading for Casey Flanigan’s pics from STS9’s late night performance...

Sound Tribe Sector 9 :: 08.13.11 :: The Independent :: San Francisco
Photos by Casey Flanigan

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