This past weekend was my fourth year in a row attending the Outside Lands Music and Arts festival in San Francisco. It was one of the craziest years by far in terms of the music, the events, and of course, that predictably unpredictable Bay Area weather.
Friday brought two of the performances I had been looking forward to the most. I've been a long time fan of Tegan and Sara but had never had the chance to see them live. The Canadian identical twin sisters did not disappoint. Their sound has become more poppy over the years, which is okay by me since I will always be a sucker for upbeat pop-rock music. Even though their music sounds a little more mainstream, their performance resonated with a badass vibe that they completed with all black outfits and classic wayfarer sunglasses. Seeing them live definitely brought me back to a few of the emotional adolescent moments that their music helped me overcome.
Another trip down memory lane was seeing Yeezus in the flesh, whose show was riddled with the perfect amount of nostalgia and obligatory ranting. Quite a few of my friends wanted to protest the Kanye performance due to his well deserved reputation as a complete asshole. I won't say Kim K.'s baby daddy is the most down to earth or humble artist out there (I think we all know that's far from the truth) but he does put on one hell of a show. The set list was perfectly crafted from old school delights, including Jesus Walks from College Dropout, to a cover of Chief Keef's I Don't Like, to some of my favorites from the Yeezus album, Black Skinhead and Bound 2. Haters gonna hate, but I'm going to make a bold claim and say that Kanye West is one of the best hip-hop artists of our time.
On Saturday afternoon I saw Haim at the Lands End stage, another set of rock sisters, who have completely transformed since I first saw them play at the Gentlemen of the Road tour in Monterey two years ago. The music and vocals were spot on, but it was the overall rock star act they put on that really impressed me. From the way they interacted with the crowd, to the amazing faces (see slideshow below) they made during each song, all of these girls rocked out harder than some musical veterans twice their age. I would love to see them again at a smaller venue in the future.
The Twin Peaks stage for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis later that night was a giant sea of people going crazy, singing every lyric, and bouncing up and down on command the moment Macklemore said jump. As expected, Macklemore's outfit changes did not fail to impress, from a mariachi get-up, to a more serious but super-trendy acid wash denim jacket and black skinny jeans. The crowd teared up as two young women got engaged during the powerful gay marriage ballad Same Love, with special guest Mary Lambert on vocals.
On Sunday I had planned to see Chvrches, but upon hearing their performance was cancelled, headed to Twin Peaks to see Flume. Apparently the entire festival had the same idea because the crowd was so packed you could barely move. I gave up and went to see the stars of Silicon Valley do some stand-up comedy at the Barbary instead. It was a bit odd seeing 3 actors from the same show all being themselves on stage rather than their characters, but TJ Miller, Thomas Middleditch, and Kumail Nanjiani were all hilarious nonetheless. Although I will add that Middleditch is a lot like his character, Richard, on the show meaning that he's very frantic and awkward but funny enough to get away with it.
The Killers were a great way to close out the festival weekend, as the sun set and the Golden Gate Park fog rolled in thick. They started their set off right with one of their biggest hits, Mr. Brightside, did a setting appropriate cover of Otis Redding's The Dock of the Bay, and closed the show with yet another big hit When You Were Young that had the whole crowd singing long after the set was over.
The artists I saw at Outside Lands this year were impressive across the board, but today all I want to do is listen to the entire Kanye West setlist on repeat.