Outside Lands has become an unstoppable force here in SF. As the crowds continue to grow, the homegrown music festival has really started to come into its own identity. A crowd pleasing mixture of acts and formula that brings together at least one classic rock artists (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and EDM (Tiësto), as well a handful of artists who dominate the airwaves (Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Macklemore & The Killers).
Beyond great music, what really makes Outside Lands worth attending are some of the unique experiences and sights. Although you really ought to experience it for yourself, I will do my best to capture some of the best moments. You can check out our full Outside Lands coverage including photos and wrap up posts for each day here.
For me Big Freedia made my Saturday. Big Freedia is the towering queen of New Orleans’ bounce music. The music with its heavy and sudden, short samples, begs to be booty shaken to. It’s all about crowd participation both in lyrics and dancing, specifically with your butt. At Saturday afternoon’s show at the Panhandle Stage, I knew nothing about her or bounce music whatsoever, but was treated to one of the most high energy and entertaining shows of my life.
(Video courtesy of The Brothers Comatose Instagram)
Big Freedia is all about the twerk and shaking your booty. Joining her on stage was a DJ, two male dancers and two female dancers, each insanely moving and gyrating their bodies to the rhythm. She got the whole crowd dancing, and singing in call and respond style. At different points during the show we were treated to 25+ women from the crowd up on stage twerking, one of the dancers twerking while standing on her head, a dancer climbing halfway up the stage structure to dance, and Big Freedia shaking whather momma gave to her on a 10 foot ladder as nervous stage hands looked on. It was by far the weirdest thing I saw all weekend, and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.
A somewhat hidden gem from the festival was the stage at the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp tent. Located across from the Panhandle Stage, the tent had a simple ground level stage cordoned off by empty kegs for short sets by great acts. I was able to catch sets from Nocona and The Brothers Comatose on Saturday, in one of the most intimate settings you will find, especially at a festival. Nocona blew me away with harmonica and slide guitar, playing a mixture of blues and folk for only about 50 people enjoying a cold brew.
Later in the afternoon The Brothers Comatose had their chance on the makeshift stage and showed what makes live bluegrass music so great. With just a couple microphones, fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin they were able to fill the lawn with an incredible richness of sound. Half concert, half impromptu guitar circle, they looked at the crowd after an opening song and just said, “We don’t have anything planned any requests?”
They worked requests into a short six to seven song set, just feet from their fans and the people who just stopped while walking by to see what was going on. When the music started on the stage nearby they had to stop much to the dismay of the then 75 or so people who had gathered around them and wanted to hear more. The intimacy of the small stage in the middle of a huge event was incredible.
One thing I missed, but our editor Anne Bacon caught Sunday, was The Improvised Shakespeare Company. I definitely want to check this out if they come back to SF. They take themes and ideas from the audience and create a whole Shakespearian comedy or tragedy with the crowds help. Anne said she could not stop laughing, which sounds like a rave review to me.
The food, as always, was great. Hopefully, no one was looking for the shitty hot dog or stale popcorn you get at most venues. Some of San Francisco’s best restaurants brought creations to this year’s festival from AQ to The Little Chihuahua to Humphry Slocombe. I had an amazing brisket sandwich from Southpaw BBQ and Southern Cookin’ and some sweet potato tots with tangy BBQ sauce from carnival themed restaurant Straw. For more on the food definitely check out SFCritic’s Jessica Murella and Fabian Molina’s take on the best vegetarian dishes here.
People-watching is always a highlight at the festival. Lets face it, people in San Francisco are already quirky, and giving them a reason to be even weirder, can lead to some interesting sights. From the bad (people vomiting, peeing or getting a little out of control with the PDA) to the good (amazing costumes, beautiful people and great dancers) you see it all. At one point I saw a guy climb the windmills to hang a tank top from the side, just bros doing bro things.
If you are a fan of either fog, music, food or art you probably would have had a great time this year. I put together a gallery of some of the sights around the festival you can check out below.
If you went, please let us know your favorite moments in the comments!