Kacey Musgraves could not have been serenading a more appropriate city in San Francisco with her democratic single, “Follow Your Arrow,” from her CMA award-winning debut album, Same Trailer Different Park on Friday at this year’s 7th Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival:
As a foodie paradise and a mecca for artists and creators that also boasts a restless music calendar, each micro neighborhood in the City by the Bay possesses its own signature cliché, from boys kissing boys in the Castro to transient hippies selling passerby weed in the Haight – you can pretty much find whatever your merry heart desires in this seven-by-seven mile city, or in this case, the dewy 1,017 acres of Golden Gate Park during OSL weekend.
Friday curtained a line-up that would appease music lovers of different genre palates. Although featuring varying genres, the common theme of the weekend was mad love for San Francisco along with tons of dancing and two-stepping. From the acoustic twang of Greensky Bluegrass opening up the Sutro Stage to Bleachers with their hit single “I Wanna Get Better,” followed by the LA based indie rock quartet, Warpaint opening up their set with “Keep It Healthy” as they wooed us into their lyrical “Undertow,” to Chromeo’s “Fancy Footwork” and Disclosure, one of the weekend’s most popular acts on the Land’s End stage.
OSL tickets sold out within hours of being released in April and the high demand for the seven-stage $275 affair left many a scalper well fed and others leaving the gates in tears. “My ticket was a phony,” cried a girl in a flower crown, “They told me to go home.” If only some of those victims and people who just couldn’t afford the weekend could have crashed the gates to hear Kanye‘s infamous summertime struggle line on “Blood on Leaves:”
Although infamous for the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s only one attraction to see in San Francisco, and as with Kanye’s highly anticipated headlining slot on Friday, there are always other options. Disgruntled by Ye’s auto-tuned rant during “Blood on Leaves” and an attempt to get the crowd riled up by commanding mosh pits, some audience members made a exodus to the Twin Peaks stage where the Arctic Monkeys had fans nodding their heads ‘yes’ to their famous single “I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor” to their closing song of the night, “R U Mine:”
On Saturday, as Haim showed off their guitar and drum chops it was almost easy to forget you were amidst the moist trees. Este Haim invited the audience to pretend the Land’s End stage was the Haim family living room, enticing everyone to imagine being at a house party with the ‘their homies in the San Fernando Valley’, just like when their parents go out of town. They began strong with the don’t-stop-’til-you-get-enough rally of “Falling,” sprinkling most of the rest of their set with cuts from their debut Days Are Gone, easily coming out as a festival favorite:
Meanwhile fellow LA set Local Natives added to the carefree vibe with their whimsical “Who Knows, Who Cares” from their debut Gorilla Manor before vocalist Taylor Rice grabbing the mic, stood on the gate diving the audience and stage for a moment before falling back first into a sea of hands, finishing the set with “Sun Hands.”
San Francisco is notorious for being one of the most expensive and high-demand cities in the US. On any given weekend, brunch lines are normally a two-hour wait and rent costs an arm and a leg, perhaps explaining why Saturday and Sunday brought notably larger crowds than Friday. Either way, sometimes there’s more fun in getting lost and discovering the roads less traveled. Wandering away from the main stages you would find countless small acts and attractions. From the Beer Land Breweries serving the city’s micro breweries to the Gastro Magic stage that coupled chefs with artists, to that donut burger everyone was talking about, taking a break from the music scene had the festival “Possessing Your Heart” in other ways, as crooned by Death Cab for Cutie on Saturday night, bringing the crowd into a nostalgic dreamy state.
Across the park, Atmosphere had fans chanting “God Loves Ugly,” with so much energy that the packed Sutro Stage was backed up until the fence barriers, while the sun played peek-a-boo with Karl The Fog, attendees stripping down and layering up. Big Freedia used the weather later as a prop commanding the crowd to take off jackets and helicopter them over their heads as mesmerizing twerking back up dancers bounced their booties to “Azz Everywhere.”
Per usual SF metropolis woes, crowds were absurd. At times more people were asking where their friends were instead of singing along to the lyrics, missing large chunks of sets. For those that could handle the focus Imelda May was rockabilly precious in the opening hours of Sunday, Spoon the same, stoked about their just dropped They Want My Soul, while the dance party continued into the night with Flume and Lykke Li, mellowing out the stage with her soprano vocals and hit jam “Little Bit” from Youth Novels with an ornate set of sounds ranging from synthesizers to violins and trumpets.
With the supermoon shining bright and lasers beaming up the sky on the closing night of the festival, The Killers opened their set of the night with “Mr. Brightside,” and covered Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” altering the words followed by proud cheers coming from said Bay audience:
From gender bending bounce house to notoriously controversial rap to legendary Americana to good old rock n’ roll, whatever music genre you’re into or in the mood for, Outside Lands had it on the ticket. As the biggest summer festival in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, old favorites continued to amaze while possibility of discovering a new love makes this festival as adventurous as the city that hosts it.