14 August 2013

[Festival Review] Outside Lands 2013

posted by: Guest Writer Live Reviews | News & Humor | Reviews

Outside Lands: That time when San Franciscans make their annual trek into the foggy depths of Golden Gate Park to tap into their inner rocker, raver or head bopper depending on the vibe they’re going for (and/or how many drinks they had the night before).

Show-stopping performances came from newcomers and veterans alike throughout the course of the weekend, but a few stood out to me as especially noteworthy. [Continue reading to get the skinny on all the best performances, songs and secrets from the weekend from guest writer Molly Murtaugh.]

paul mccartney outside lands

Friday: Paul McCartney

I know, I know, DUH.  The man is a legend.  2 hours and 45 minutes (and a 39-song setlist) of Beatles classics (“Blackbird,” “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” and “Yesterday”), Wings tracks, and his more recent solo work left fans more than satisfied. Throughout the course of the show Paul took a two-pronged approach to convincing me that he’s still got it:

  1. During his classic Wings anthem “Live and Let Die,” Paul lit and let fly a firework display.  Nothing says badass like performing a Bond anthem surrounded by fireworks, am I right?
  2. He did not rely on the likes of Taylor Swift (cough cough Rolling Stones) or any other musician to support his lengthy performance. Instead, he improvised, signing two mega-fans’ wrists onstage to help make his autograph their “first and only tattoos.”

Other Friday Highlights:

  • CHIC and Nile Rodgers:  Stepping in for last minute drop out D’Angelo, CHIC and Nile Rodgers brought down the house with their covers of Diana Ross, David Bowie and Daft Punk and their dynamic stage presence.

  • Jessie Ware:  Sunset-favorite Jessie Ware recovered her set after a 15 minute technical delay by performing top hits  “Running” and new single “If You’re Never Gonna Move,” making the OSL early birds fall in love with her soulful sound and playful lyrics.

  • Yeasayer:  Yeasayer is one of those bands that always intimidated me.  Something about the name led me to write them off as either a hardcore jam-band or a deep house artist.  You can imagine my surprise when we left winelands en route to Paul and were immediately drawn to the electronic, almost tribal vibes of their hit “O.N.E.”  Three songs later and at the demand of Yeasayer, we meandered over to find spots for Sir Paul.



Saturday: The Head and the Heart

10.15.2013: Save the date.  The indie pop-folksters from Seattle are releasing their sophomore album Let’s Be Still,  and I strongly believe it will contend for the best folk album of the year.

During their set, the group seamlessly intertwined four new songs, including new single “Shake,” into their lineup of hits like “Lost in my Mind,” strong closer “Rivers and Roads” and my personal favorite “Down in the Valley.”  With six band members and a simple sound, the group does an amazing job supporting each other onstage, whether it be through subtle backup vocals or by taking a seat and simply watching, in awe of their bandmembers’ talent.  Their positive energy and genuine appreciation for their success was both endearing and attractive, making this lower key performance a revitalizing show experience.

Other Saturday highlights:

  • Gary Clark Jr.:  I can’t think of a better way to kickoff my festival hump-day.  While unfortunately only making it to the last portion of his set, I sensed a need to play catch up on the crowd’s serious musical high.  His performance of hits like “Things are Changing” and “Bright Lights” amongst seriously impressive guitar riffs prepped the crowd for a long day of dancing.

  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs:  One of my top five favorite performances at Coachella, word on the street is that they Yeah Yeah Yeahs brought it once again.  Amongst the mic swallowing antics of lead vocalist Karen O to the haunting simplicity of top hit “Maps,”  they are a group I regret not seeing for a second time.



Sunday: Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend vs. MS MR, Vampire Weekend vs. MS MR — my biggest conflict of the weekend and a decision I knew would be mood driven.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see both groups live this year and knew that both artists would put on stellar performances.  MS MR has a way of completely entrancing me in their sultry, sinful melodies, particularly “Fantasy” and “Ash Tree Lane.”  However, the appeal of seeing Vampire Weekend post release of Modern Vampires of the City was too strong.  Above all, I give a f*** about an Oxford Comma.

The Modern Vampires did not disappoint.  They carried themselves as the true festival veterans that they are, and I am certain they will go down in history as one of the top bands from our generation. Classic track “A-Punk” and newest single “Diane Young” made even the worst of dancers (re: ME) feel as though they had rhythm, while new hits “Unbelievers” and “Step” had the crowd singing along as if the album’s been out for years.

Other Sunday highlights:

  • Rudimental: This electronic quartet group from the UK receives my newcomer award of the festival.  First growing in popularity on their home turf back in 2012, Rudimental has been “waiting a long time, waiting all night” even to perform in the US. This certainly wasn’t a missed opportunity for them– they threw an absolute party.  A mix between catchy electro beats, vocals from three rising talents and of course a trumpet kept hands in the air and feet on the move for the entirety of their set, which ended with an epic performance of top hit “Feel the Love.”

  • Hall and Oates: The reunion of Daryl Hall and John Oates was one of my most highly anticipated acts of the weekend.  I knew having the opportunity to see the live performance of one of my childhood anthem’s “You make my dreams come true,” would be nothing other than a dream come true.  I was right.  This performance alone distinguished Outside Lands from all other major festivals out there.

rudimental live



Favorite Live Songs of the Weekend:

  • Rudimental: Feel the Love, Not Giving In

  • The Head and the Heart: Shake, Rivers and Roads

  • Vampire Weekend:  Everlasting Arms, Unbelievers, Horchata, Oxford Comma

  • Young the Giant: Strings

  • Hall and Oates: You Make My Dreams Come True

  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs:  Maps

  • Paul McCartney: Hey Jude, Maybe I’m Amazed

  • Gary Clark Jr.: Bright Lights


Anybody else want to start a Van Morrison for OSL 2014 campaign with me?

Til next year, OSL.


Written by Molly Murtaugh, Photos by Molly Murtaugh and Jenn Volk


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