As you settle back into your routine and the mania of being at a festival – a universe unto itself where normal laws of engagement don’t always apply, it is comforting to look back at images of Outside Lands 2015. It helps ease the furrows of a challenging day at the office to see the stage that you had flocked back and forth to, so many times in a space of 72 hours.
The four main stages provided all the big-name draws but the smaller tent stages or Dr Flotsam’s stage near McClaren Pass brought the best surprises. The largest stage – Lands End delivered some great sets and all three headliners gave faultless performances but nothing unexpected ever occurs there. Except maybe when someone released a balloon of Buzz Lightyear rising into the sky as Elton John sang, “Rocket Man”.
Earlier sets there did bring forth two of this year’s most memorable performances Billy Idol and of course, Tame Impala! Are we flogging a dead horse here? Oh well. The Aussie rockers’ early evening set with it’s psychedelic light show was marvelous and three weeks on, we are still swooning, we can still hear that bass, see those swirling lights and if only we could go backwards… in time.
Klara and Johanna Soderberg of First Aid Kit was another pleasant surprise, offering their earnest rootsy Americana by way of a small town in Sweden. They would have exited the Lands End stage with a bucketload of new fans eager to hear more from their second album, The Lion’s Roar and their third, Stay Gold.
As always the Panhandle Stage delivered the most fun and also the most blasphemous remarks. On the first day, The Drums proclaimed that ‘I’ve seen the world /and there’s no heaven /and no hell. /I believe when we die, we die…’ in the most poppy of love songs, “Book of Revelations”. St Vincent might have had the most slinkiest of catsuits but The Drums frontman, Jonny Pierce had the best jacket of the weekend, beating even Elton John’s bright blue bejeweled one embossed ‘Fantastic’ on its back. Gold and black with sunny palm trees that call to mind, LA – the singer’s new home, it was worn high and tight. It was splendid like their sunset performance.
And when Fantastic Negrito was unexpectedly detained by the SFPD on Saturday, we got an a cappella Christian rap group. While those last words were enough to send an unhappy few on their way, the rest of the crowd stayed and enjoyed comedians, Rory Scovel, Ron Funches, Joe DeRosa and Drennon Davis. Their improvised rap on being Christian, poking fun at sex before marriage and race issues delivered hilarious results though sometimes cut too close to the bone. The irony of the whole situation too much to bear given that a black artist had been handcuffed and taken away in a police van not long before.
On Sunday, this stage also had the best crowd EVER with madcap electro-experimentalist, Dan Deacon who managed to command fans to not only part and make way for a dance-circle but to also dance their Hawaiian shirts off. It was a great exercise in coming together for the music, that Deacon masterminded perfectly.
This was the same stage that saw SF rising stars, Heartwatch’s frontwoman, Claire George pelted with sunflowers. Was it orchestrated? Apparently, festival-goers were handed sunflowers near the NRG Eco Lounge. George tried to dodge and catch them as she sung but at one point, gave up and just laughed. It was like watching a video-game character come to life a la Frogger in Seinfeld.
If you were travelling through McClaren Pass looking for The Barbary tent (it moved) or were passing through between stages, you would have stumbled upon the small and tucked-away Dr Flotsam stage. Again a different experience awaited you – intimate and off-kilter. We spotted one avid festival-goer, the ‘long-haired guy who reminds me of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers dancing with his shirt off’ as described by members of British electronic group, Hot Chip, he seemed to be dancing front of stage everywhere. At every stage!
The Twin Peaks stage seemed further away this year. Perhaps it was all the electronic dance acts that performed them, weary feet are easily convinced to not make the trek. But the droves that did venture to that end of Hellman Hollow had no complaints, especially for the likes of Caribou, Kendrick Lamar and Toro Y Moi.
The Sutro Stage offered standout sets from Leon Bridges, Sky Ferreira, the DMA’s and Allah-Las. The Allah-Las appeared nonchalant onstage which was a shame. Thankfully their nostalgic surf riffs, reverb and smooth Summer jams should see us all through to the next festival season, that’s if you weren’t still basking in the afterglow.
For the the link to the original Outside Lands 2015 review, please click here.