Riding on the Outskirts of Outside Lands
Featuring acts such as M.I.A, Bat for Lashes, Dengue Fever and the Black Eyed Peas, the Outside Lands Arts and Music Festival took over Golden Gate Park.
Published: Friday, September 04, 2009
In only it's second year, San Francisco's Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is on its way to becoming one of the most sought-out music festivals of the entire year. Set in Golden Gate Park – the third most visited park in the United States – the festival rounded up more than 150,000 attendees, a number that rivals attendance totals of such as the long-running indie favorite Coachella. The beauty behind Outside Lands is not just that it takes on a historic piece of land, but that its mission towards musical diversity. Here, you'll find it all, from folk to hip-hop, from lesser known groups to some of today's hottest acts.
Put on behind the people of Another Planet Entertainment, Superfly Productions, and Starr Hill Presents, this year's line-up boasted a very powerful roster which included: Pearl Jam, Tenacious D, Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, and Modest Mouse. And that's only just the tip of the iceberg. Outside Lands prides itself at being a very eco-friendly festival, as they even included a valet service -- for bikes.
The festival was not just about the music either. There was plenty of activities, booths, and art installations to visit. Sure enough, you could not walk for two minutes without passing Heineken booths (including a massive dome-like booth sponsored by the beer giant) or even taking a step inside the Winehaven – a tent which (you guessed it) had numerous wineries set up inside. Yes, you could even get a Korean BBQ taco, courtesy of the boys from San Francisco based restaurant, Namu. Alcohol, food and other undisclosed specialties were most definitely aplenty at the festival.
One of the highlights of the show was a killer performance by Bat for Lashes – who rocked the crowd with that incredible voice of hers. Despite the fact she was on a smaller stage in comparison to the size of the Lands End stage, her performance carried far well into the outskirts of the venue, so it didn't seem to matter too much if you were up close or far away.
Among some other artists, Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi also made a stop at the festival as a part of her first American tour for her debut album, while Dengue Fever took the Sutro Stage and charmed the crowd with a bit of their 1960s Cambodian rock-funk based sounds.
Then, enter the immensely popular Black Eyed Peas. They're a group one could love to hate, but they were a definite crowd pleaser. Their latest album, The E.N.D., may be one of their weaker efforts, but they were able to bring a lot of life to the stage with some of their latest material. And of course, they didn't forget to perform the old favorites. Mid-concert, they brought up a Transformer-like backup dancer on stage, which was almost as distracting as Fergie's concert getup.
M.I.A., everybody's favorite Sri Lankan/Tamil musician hailing from Britain, was one of the closing acts of the festival – and while it was something many looked forward to, her performance was quite lackluster. Was it due to her disappointment with being a support act for Tenacious D, after Beastie Boys dropped out due to Adam Yauch's recent announcement of his battle with cancer? We'll never know, but instead, we did get treated to Jack Black getting down to his skivvies on the chilly Sunday night.
While the Asian and Asian American performers had a strong showing at the festival, it's also better to recognize the spirit and unity of the festival. While you may feel it's a modern-way Woodstock, it's more than that. People came together to hear, sing, and dance – to hear old favorites and become fans of new favorites. Bring it on next year, Outside Lands!