THE LO DOWN: Outside Lands Festival Day 2 – Bands you need to know
Three days and counting until The Outside Lands Festival takes up residence in our park and eardrums. In a follow up to last week’s hard-hitting exposÃ© on the lesser-known bands of Day One (Aug 14), here’s the Lo Down take on bands to watch on Day Two (Aug 15)â€¦
Start Day Two early by getting your folk on with frontman Kyle Fields and the rest of Little Wings. Fields has one of those perfectly crafted singer-songwriter voices that lands somewhere between gentle simplicity and inarticulate mumbling, but is sure to win you over with equal parts whimsy and melancholy. He knows when to let melody speak for itself, when to let the feedback linger, and when to add some tasteful steel drums (yes, possible). These San Luis Obispo natives are known for paying tribute to the “surreal aspects of the contemporary Californian landscape” â€”so the hopefully-not-yet-trashed Golden Gate Park will be a great venue in which to watch â€˜em.
I may be late to this party but I only know the Australian quartet from their hit “Sweet Disposition” in that Chrysler commercial (and apparently also from the hipster wet dream known as the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack). That being said, I dig â€˜em. With a falsetto that recalls Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters and enough reverb guitar to make Bono blush, these kids will make you dance like Coldplay at the disco. Catch them before they’re gigantic-er.
“Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” has been getting some radio play of late and I have to admit that I definitely did a double take when I realized that this soul crooning is coming from a 29 year-old white dude from Ann Arbor, MI. In addition to (un-trained!) vocal prowess, Hawthorne is also a multi-instrumentalist and solid producer who recalls the best of late 60s R&B with the break beats of todayâ€¦ I kind of hate the term “new school soul” but whatever this cat is doing is refreshing, on point, and well worth a listen.
Show some local love for this San Francisco septet! Holding down New Orleans-inspired gospel and soul, this band will make you shimmy and clap and praise the “Lawd” of Outside Lands for including such a fun group in your Sunday line-up. Good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll has its place, sure, but isn’t always known for its â€“ ahem â€“ musicianship. That being said, it’s great to hear such musically sound tight-knit in-the-pocket jazztastic ensemble demonstrate some solid chops. Another group whose appeal will span generations, make sure to grab your granny and your kid and get your boogie on.
Whaaaat? Where did this awesomeness come from? Nigeria and Hamburg apparently, though I think the USA is a little slow on the uptake (shocker) because Nneka is only catching on now stateside but has been rocking the rest of the world since 2005. The UK’s Sunday Times compares her to Lauryn Hill, but there’s a softness in her folk-R&B-with-a-beat that further recalls the tone of Los Angeles singer-songwriter Mozella mixed with the conviction of soul-mistress Jill Scott. In a word: fresh. I’m hoping Nneka goes beyond the guitar n’ DJ soundscape to keep us interested but she’s definitely worth a listen to find out.