Outside Lands 2011 | San Francisco | Review | Pics


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...

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