Who: VN Associate Editor Liz Miller and VN Editorial Assistant Brooke Still
What: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Calif.
When: August 14-15, 2010
Why: Because nothing says summer like live music, outdoor dancing, and free vegan beer.
The Scoop: San Francisco might not have the same sun-kissed summers as Chicago or Austin, but that doesn't mean SF's answer to the summer music festival is left out in the cold. Depending how you view it, in 2010, the third-annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival got a facelift: The festival was cut from three days to two, and the lineup included a more eclectic set of musicians. While the 2009 festival featured mainstream names including Tom Jones, Jason Mraz, Pearl Jam, Incubus, Lucinda Williams, and Dave Matthews Band, the 2010 line-up was significantly dialed-down, with a shorter list of heavy-weight headliners such as The Strokes, My Morning Jacket, Gogol Bordello, and Phoenix, decidedly skewing more indie-rock than soft-rock.
Brooke and I couldn't wait to take in the sights and sounds of some of our favorite acts. We arrived on Saturday just in time to catch the end of Electric Six's high-energy set, and then went in search of lunch. With tons of veggie options to choose from, we felt slightly overwhelmed, but finally settled on moderately priced veggie burgers—with two sides of free curly fries courtesy of the generous concessions man. Score! After mowing down our festival fare, we trekked over to the main stage to see self-described "gypsy punk" group Gogol Bordello tear it up with their raw, revivalistic blend of multi-national music, incorporating influences ranging from Eastern European-inspired accordion to Ecuadorian rap riffs.
A tattooed stranger fist-pumping during Gogol Bordello
After Gogol Bordello we crossed the field to the Sutro stage, where Bassnectar had just begun to spin his signature, soul-thumping sounds. Somewhere between Lil Wayne synths and his big beat "Seek and Destroy" remix we remembered why summer music festivals are awesome: kids with no rhythm shamelessly dancing in public at 3pm. It was fantastic. As Bassnectar wrapped up, we headed back to the main stage for indie darlings—and Brooke's favorite act of the day—My Morning Jacket. Their unmistakable melodic, crowd-swaying songs were just what we needed after Bassnectar's danceable set, and MMJ didn't disappoint, playing all of our favorites, closing with their classic from It Still Moves, "One Big Holiday."
With our minds sufficiently blown by MMJ's powerful performance, we staggered across the field yet again to watch Wolfmother bring metal to the day's overall electric mix of music. We're not sure if it was the driving metal chords or the six hours between meals, but near the end of Wolfmother's set, our stomachs were definitely rumbling. We figured this was the perfect time to head over to the Chase Freedom Lounge, where our press passes (hey, that's the name of this blog!) allowed us to enjoy free dinner and drinks. On top of complimentary wine tasting and snacks, we enjoyed free beer and a vegan-friendly buffet.
Brooke enjoying the free vegan skewers and ale
Yes, it was a buffet situation, but a classy one nonetheless, offering vegan jasmine-coconut rice, salad, and marinated veggie skewers. Then, as hippie-children relived their youth to the sounds of Further at the main stage, we relived our own bygone 15-year-old fandom by dancing to Saturday's other closing act, The Strokes. Publicity was buzzing around the band's performance at Outside Lands, as it marks their first touring summer in four years, and the second of three stateside shows before finishing their forth album later this year. From Is This It early hits "Last Nite" and "Someday" to sophomore album favorites such as "I Can't Win," the set was full of the band's effortlessly catchy classics. After the band exited the stage, we filed out of the park, heading for home and some much-earned rest and relaxation. Definitely not to stalk The Strokes tour bus, whatever the papers might have said.