In reference to a 150 year old nickname of the area that now is home to Golden Gate Park, The Outside Lands Music Festival provided a jam packed weekend of music, food, wine, and art for those in attendance of the third annual event. Kicking off midday on Saturday to overcast skies, festival goers slowly trickled in from multiple entrances ready to traverse the grounds hopping from stages as far apart as a half mile to get in on the action.
Playing for the 5th time in San Francisco in the past 10 months, by my count (including their Friday night show at the Rickshaw Stop), the candid indie pop group Freelance Whales was one of the first bands to play at the Twin Peaks stage. Fusing americana sounds such as banjos with sequenced keyboards, I do think their is something unique about their instrumentation as well as very appropriate, and at times captivating, vocals. I will say that using a metal watering can as percussion crosses the line into gimmick territory and their lyrics are underdeveloped and amateur at best. Luckily I’m not a ‘lyrics’ kind of person, so I will overlook that and just enjoy the music.
[mp3] FREELANCE WHALES – Hannah from Weathervanes (2009)
As my colleague stated in part one of our festival coverage, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars have been through a lot. Here they showed us how they continue to keep a positive outlook on life by dancing, singing, and playing their blend of reggae influenced African pop music for the crowd. After seeing the crowd respond, I knew that this wild card of a band was possibly the most brilliant add to the line-up for all of Saturday.
[mp3] SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL STARS- Living Stone from Rise & Shine (2010)
Across the Polo field, Colorado producer Derek Vincent Smith AKA Pretty Lights blasted the Sutro Stage with beats, samples, and synths. Gaining huge momentum in recent months, he has played a string a top notch festivals this year including Coachella as well as selling out Red Rocks earlier this month. As the crowd seemed to collectively pulse to the bass during his closing song, I Can See It In Your Face, I began to feel very disappointed that I snoozed on his sold out show at The Independent that night.
[mp3] PRETTY LIGHTS – Hot Like Dimes from Spilling Over Every Side (2010)
Ontario’s Tokyo Police Club was relatively subdued on the Twin Peaks stage compared to stories I’ve heard from shows on their previous tours. What they lacked in visual simulation they definitely made up for in their musical performance. With their sophomore LP, Champ, hot off the press, it is possible that despite their still relatively young age (three of the four members are 23), they are maturing beyond stage antics and letting the music speak for itself. Or maybe singer Dave Monks just didn’t want to fuck up his Canadian tuxedo.
[mp3] TOKYO POLICE CLUB – Wait Up (Boots Of Danger) from Champ (2010)
Coaxed by a friend, I ended up at the Panhandle Stage to watch Oakland’s Beats Antique, which I was previously unfamiliar with. Their style combines elements of hip hop with world music, particularly Middle Eastern sounds. This unique fusion was impressive enough, but add an intricately choreographed performance by a group of beautiful women doing everything from drumming to belly dancing and it is a show worth catching.
The last set of the night, was part of the great comeback series by now legendary band, The Strokes. Not expecting anything extraordinary from the presumably rusty group after a four year hiatus, I was caught off guard by how tight and compelling they were. I have never been too enthralled with their music, but this performance gave me a new appreciation for what they do.
– Tanner Pikop, writer/photographer