As most of you already know, I spent this past weekend at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park. For those of you not familiar with it, Outside Lands is basically a 3-day music festival in the park. Like Woodstock, but with slightly better personal hygiene. It came with a relatively steep price tag ($199 for a 3-day pass), but considering the number of bands we saw, it ended up being a pretty good deal.
Overall, I was really impressed with how well organized the festival was. Although there were a ton of people (apparently 100,000 over the 3 days), it never felt crowded. There were more porta-potties than I’ve ever seen in a single area, and they even had handwashing stations that didn’t run out of water. There were tons of food and drink stands, and I never had to wait in any long lines. I have to give huge props to the organizers; I feel like it went about as smoothly as it could.
As for the music, on day one, we only went to see Pearl Jam, since I had to work during the day. We walked from the Castro to the Park, which is quite far, but it was a warm night and it ended up being a pretty pleasant walk. Not wanting to deal with the huge crowd near the stage, we just picked a spot, laid down a blanket, and listened to them play under the stars. I hadn’t heard Pearl Jam in concert since 2001 (when I blew off debugging my polygon rasterizer for my graphics class to go see them play…) and they were still awesome. I was surprised at how much older stuff they played, especially given that they have a new album coming out soon.
Saturday we wised up and decided to drive and park in the Sunset before walking to the festival entrance. The first act we planned on seeing wasn’t until the afternoon, so we wandered around for a bit before settling at the Sutro stage, where we listened to The Nortec Collective, which is a band coming out of “Tijuana’s burgeoning electronica scene.” (Nortec is a blend of ‘Norteño’ and ‘techno’.) Yeah, I didn’t know it existed either. But I ended up really liking them, so that was a pleasant surprise. Afterwards, we decided to camp out near the main stage to wait for Jason Mraz and The Black Eyed Peas, whom we surmised would be some of the more popular bands that day. I sadly didn’t bring anything to entertain myself with, so instead I took a short nap, and ate tater tots. Sweet. Finally, Jason Mraz came on, and I gotta say although I see the man’s talent, I didn’t really enjoy the music. After a bit, The Black Eyed Peas came on doing their brand of well-rehearsed pop-infused hip-hop, and it was pretty awesome. Call me mainstream, but they’re a really fun band to see live. After they were done with their set, I realized that Dave Matthews Band was coming on next, so we booked it out of the park as quickly as possible, heading upstream against the wave of DMB megafans making their way to the main stage.
Sunday, the only act I was sure I knew I had to see was M.I.A., which left a lot of unscheduled time during the day. We ended up catching Lenka‘s act, which I really liked. Her performance was sadly pretty underattended, so I was able to make my way right up to the stage. Next up was The Avett Brothers, which I alternated between liking and disliking. Their music is pretty good, but they do the overenunciating thing (see Ani DiFranco for a prime example) which tended to get on my nerves. After that we watched most of Lucinda Williams’ set before heading over to the main stage to try to get a good spot for M.I.A.’s show. Even though she gypped us of 10 minutes (she played for 50 minutes instead of an hour), I thought her show was awesome. She’s so very…weird…but it just works for her. She wore an outfit that looks like a leopard exploded on her, and she had two skinny white boy dancers named “White Boy” and “Uh Oh”, and the woman really can’t sing, but she did (parts of) two Beastie Boys songs, so all was forgiven. When she was done, we thought about staying for Tenacious D, but decided that a warm house sounded better.
All in all, I had a great time, and given a good lineup, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back next year. As always, pics below.
OHWAITWHEREARETHEPICTURES??? Unfortunately, Outside Lands had a very sad “no cameras with detachable lenses” policy, so you all are left to your imaginations (or any major music website.) It was killing me seeing all of the picture opportunities whiz by, so I’m seriously thinking about what I need to do to get a press pass next year. Watching the number of people wandering about with the orange press credentials wrist bands, it doesn’t seem like it’s *too* hard to get one, but I’d probably need to affiliate myself with some music website, or at least go freelance. I suspect I’ll need some more experience doing concert photography, and I know that there are a number of people in bands at work, so I was thinking of emailing and offering my photography services. Any musicians out there need a gig photographer? Let me know.