Entering the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is like traveling through an urban Neverland filled with intoxicating smells of horchata cup cakes, wine, pizza and sounds blasting from every acre.
Once you enter the forest that is called Golden Gate Park, your ears are overwhelmed with sounds from dubstep to electronic pop to jazz.
The park was filled with large crowds of girls dressed in maxi dresses with flowers laced in their hair and boys with tapered cuts and jean jackets to match their cuffed pants. Let’s not forget the large amount of sunglasses being worn in an area that was cloudy all day.
During the three days, the festival offered four main stages that blasted music from rock “˜n’ roll legends, over a dozen DJs and bands ready to have a good time with the excited crowds.
On Friday, one of the first sounds heard was that of classic New Orleans big band from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The band is noteworthy because of the large influence it has had on brass band music by mixing other genres like funk. The brass band performed some New Orleans favorites like “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which brought the parade feel to the Lands End Stage with catchy beats from the drums, saxophones and clapping and singing from the crowd who knew the famous tune.
The band kept the crowd dancing with its signature song, “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now.” Lead vocalist and trombone player Gregory Davis even started to play two trombones at the same time. The boisterous, fast-paced song with jazz, funk and bebop sounds kept the crowd and band active with fast clapping and hip shaking.
Another band to keep up the high energy early on the first day was Brooklyn’s synth-pop duo, Tanlines. The Panhandle Stage was in for a good dance show to help them shake off the morning dew that was still in the air. Vocalist Eric Emm mentioned during his flight over to San Francisco that someone requested he play “Green Grass.” The song’s well-known track with pumping beats and easy-to-follow lyrics was hard to resist dancing to.
The rest of day one also brought out Wallpaper, YACHT, Beck and MSTRKRFT, among others. Lead singer of YACHT, Claire Evans, told the crowd that its song “Utopia” was “designed to help you release anxiety, “¦ to help you form close personal bonds with other people around you.” The fast-paced disco, synth-pop track helped the crowd form close bonds because of all the jumping around they were doing.
Everyone quickly learned the first day that what is usually acceptable for Coachella weather was not going to work that weekend in San Francisco. With temperatures reaching 58 degrees and below, many clung to friends for warmth or danced off the chills. The Heineken tents that looked like igloos offered refuge from the cold to attendees who were 21 and over.
Day two had more prepared crowds full of jackets and blankets as well as performances from Yellow Ostrich, Father John Misty, The Kills and Norah Jones. The high-energy dance party with MiMOSA brought the heat. The DJ with hip-hop and pop samples from artists like Wiz Khalifa and Notorious B.I.G. mixed with hard-hitting dubstep beats caused for infectious head bobbing and hand waving to his downtempo mix of Schoolboy Q’s song “Hands on the Wheel.”
Saturday also included a raging performance from Metallica. Metallica delivered lots of fire, fireworks and a trippy light show that, coordinated with guitar riffs, had fans fleeing from the Sigur RÏŒs performance to rock out with the band that has been around since 1981. The pyrotechnics show complimented the band as they played some of their greatest hits like “Master of Puppets.”
Day three brought performers like fun., Regina Spektor and Stevie Wonder to the stage. Stevie Wonder made sure that his set was worth the wait. With large sing-alongs to his hits like “Sign, Sealed, Delivered,” “Superstition” time flew by and the crowd yelled for an encore, which Stevie Wonder answered with a cover of The Temptations’ “My Girl.”
After Stevie Wonder closed the show, the crowd lingered around, not wanting the festival to end.
Besides music, the festival offered a variety of activities ranging from wine tasting to making floral arrangements. With areas of the festival titled Choco Lands, Outside Lambs, Wine Lands and Beer Lands, concert-goers were certain to find some activity to keep them occupied until their favorite band hit the stage. All of the food was from local bay area restaurants looking to promote their scrumptious goods. Attendees could get their fix of crispy mac “˜n’ cheese, Malaysian nachos, ricotta and artichoke sandwiches, milkshakes, beer sausage, s’mores, spicy pork fries and lamb poutine.
The Barbary tent at Outside Lands didn’t feature musicians. Instead it offered a variety of comedians, sketches, magicians and juggling. The Nerdist Variety show hosted by Chris Hardwick featured Neil Patrick Harris. Eric Andre brought clips from his Adult Swim show as well as held a Q&A session.
The fifth annual Outside Lands left attendees with full stomachs, some laughs, Metallica’s pyrotechnics and other bands’ catchy beats. The festival has a big job ahead if it wants to top itself next year.