LIVE REVIEW: Outside Lands 2012, Day 1
BEST OVERHEARD AT OUTSIDE LANDS: “Jesus wants Justice!”
This year was the first sold-out Outside Lands in the festival’s history and we could definitely feel the extra intimacy from hundreds of thousands of our new closest friends. Music lovers and scenesters alike turned MUNI into party buses Friday to see Foo Fighters, Justice, and Neil Young.
When attending festivals that are a bit of a smorgasbord of random bands, as was the case with this year’s Outside Lands, we always like to arrange our custom lineups as you would assemble any mixtape. First and foremost, you need to start your day with a band that will warm you up and set the tone for the next eight or so hours. We have to say that Tanlines was a good choice.
Brooklyn’s own synth pop power duo doles out enough bumping beats and high notes to really get you into your surroundings, which in this case was a pretty wicked dance party in the fog. Of course all duos, no matter how peppy and bouncy, tend to have their awkward moments on stage. You are, after all, watching just two regular-looking guys play a keyboard and guitar. Yet the palpable connection between Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen more than makes up for these slightly uncomfortable instances.
Kicking things up a notch from there was the intention when crossing Hellman Hallow to check out the Portland/Texas/LA hybrid YACHT. The warm greeting from singer Clair Evans was definitely keeping us in high spirits. “Helloooo my children,” she cooed to the crowd. To us, what best describes YACHT is any music you have ever listened to at any slamming house party. Note: we didn’t say any music you had simply heard at a house party. YACHT demands more of an active listen because there always seems to be more lurking under the surface. Their Outside Lands set proved this point with a selection of disco-ish dance romps intermingled with ’50s-inspired pop ditties. And did we fucking catch a cover of “Waste Of Time” by The Stains? As in Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains? Boss.
According to mixtapeology 101, the third selection is meant to take things down a notch as to not run the risk of blowing a fuse. Of Monsters And Men may not seem like the best choice for this purpose, yet the Icelandic powerhouse definitely has its share of slow jams. Not to mention the rich and silky vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir would surely make our lids a little heavy if not for the 6-piece band backing it, with a trumpet no less. We loved finally getting to see this band in the flesh, however we must say that green skinny jeans are not for you, Raggi. This unfortunate fashion choice made OMAM’s very handsome co-singer look like a wee leprechaun.
Sticking around Sutro, we caught Andrew Bird in all of his whistling glory. While cheering and stadium-worthy rock was spilling over the hill from Foo Fighters, Bird hit the stage about ten minutes later than scheduled. We can only imagine that the black t-shirted and jeaned concertgoers were at Land’s End — Bird-watchers were bedecked in body paint and flowered headbands. Considering Bird is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist, it’s no wonder the band took to improvising a chilled out jam for the audience to groove into before starting into the beautiful “Dark Matters.” We dug Bird’s Rufus Wainwright/Leonard Cohen-styled vocals, but it was definitely his vibrant whistling and his masterful playing of stringed instruments that called our attention.
Afterward we caught Washed Out across the grounds at the Panhandle stage. It seems that the audience was clamoring for the Atlanta-based chillwaver to perform “that song from Portlandia.” Ernest Greene, who was giving us a little bit of Morrissey realness, laughed at the incoming fog: “Thinking next to the ocean, we’d be having summer vibes,” Greene said. He smartly indulged us and ended his set with what’s come to be known as the Portlandia theme song “I Feel It All Around.” Its slow bedroom grooves were perfect to simultaneously cool down and warm our bodies for what was coming up next: Justice.
This band took the Twin Peaks stage meaning business: while French duo Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé usually kept their noses to the electronic setup, the magnificence of the lights and rest of the stage dressing kept us in utter awe. Lights were perfectly timed to each beat and change in Justice’s set, and the boys were also well aware, their conservative movements highlighting the drama of their performance. Connecting with them was similar to going to a Catholic church: while de Rosnay and Augé conducted the ceremony with perfect precision, their music was our religion, and we were moved by the spirit. As that one guy said, “I’m going to fist bump until my arms fall off!”
After Justice finished “Audio, Video, Disco,” de Rosnay posed at the front of the stage with his fist in the air. Suddenly, a fan robed like Jesus was lifted from the center of the sea of people. He remained mid-air, arms extended, as long as de Rosnay stood perfectly still. A pose off with Jesus.
Is there really any other way to end with a bang than with Neil Young And Crazy Horse? Well, yes and no. No because it’s Neil fucking Young and if you love American rock ‘n roll, you owe it to yourself to witness this genius in action. And the man can still do it, for sure. All he needs is a flannel shirt and a sour look and he’s still ready to kill it. However, witnessing a dozen guys who could be your dad dust off their old dance moves to 15-minute jams that should have ended maybe five minutes sooner isn’t quite the bang we had in mind. But hey, it was mind-blowing 40 years ago so why not let it take you back to simpler times?
On to day two! We have a makeup date with Big Boi.
Check out our full Outside Lands galleries on our Flickr page HERE!!