Day of Decisions During Day 2 at
Outside Lands Music Festival 2013
L. Paul Mann
The music started early on the second day of the Outside Lands Festival, with so many choices to be made about which bands to listen to, what food to eat, and what to drink, that many in the crowd found themselves faced with tough decisions all throughout the day. From the first fleeting moments at the festival to the final headliner choice of a set by industrial music genius Trent Reznor with his latest incantation of Nine Inch Nails, or the popular French Band Phoenix, with their feel good dance oriented pop hits, tough choices had to be made. But it was a day of dilemma that most attending this years festival gladly embraced, so their were really no wrong choices to make. From the opening set on the Panhandle stage by local Latin fusion band, Locura, nearly every musical choice offered up was a quality one. San Francisco's own Locura, offers up their own unique funky rock blend, of flamenco, reggae, cumbia, and Cuban son sounds, among others. A small crowd quickly gathered around the band as they belted out their diverse tunes led by Spanish singer, Kata Miletich. As the band's set progressed they were augmented by a rap singer and a flamenco singer and dancer, painting a mosaic of Latin infused rhythms. The early set was conveniently located next to a large concentration of food stands, some offering up perfect breakfast foods. Fresh hot Empanadas, pastries, and gourmet coffee, were all within smelling distance of Locura's dance inducing set. Food and beverage choices would become more difficult during the day as the rest of the stages came alive across the vast venue. With a veritable world of wine on one side, and a tent full of gourmet beer microbrewery's on the other, sometimes beverage decisions, determined the musical choice for some fans. Others found themselves swayed by the gourmet food on offering. For instance, a small patch in the middle of the park was ground zero for a whole host of gourmet Lamb dishes and a world of chocolate. Many found themselves lingering at the nearby Mike Shine stage to hear alternative folk music.
It was the main stages, however, that captured the attention of most festival goers. A large crowd had already gathered at the Twin Peaks stage, by the time that another local San Francisco band opened that stage. The local Indie band Social Studies, has already made a name for themselves with two full length albums now under their belt. Several of the songs on their first album have already been the subject of extensive remixes by musicians across the globe. Meanwhile yet another San Francisco band was opening the massive Lands End stage. The Soft White Sixties, led by Mexican American singer, Octavio Genera has a diverse international line up mush like the band Locura. But this retro rock sounding powerhouse plays explosive rhythms closer to the sound of the Black Crowes, much different than the Locura dance beat rhythms. The band revved the crowd up into an energized frenzy with their explosive performance. The tight rhythms of the band channeled what was best in old school retro rock performances and the band is poised to explode onto the national stage with a little luck. Guitarist extraordinaire Gary Clark JR. followed with an even more traditional set of American Blues infused rock. Even though he is only 29 years old, the Austin based Texas blues singer and guitarist sounds like a veteran old soul of the Blues rock genre. He probably fit right in when he was invited to the 2010 Crossroads Guitar festival. That festival, organized by Eric Clapton, features the biggest names in Blues rock guitar history, that are still living today. Clark's explosive guitar solos screamed across Golden Gate Park, projected by the massive main stage sound system. Over on the Sutro stage there was yet another retro sounding Indie band, The Growlers, playing. This Dana Point, Southern California band evokes the psychedelic sixties rock scene, mixed with a bit of old school Bob Dylan style and finesse. The band came up with a new term to describe their sound, “Beach Goth”. The band played an effects laden set of clean crisp tunes, that catered to the tastes of any jam band aficionado.
Back over on the smaller Panhandle stage, another entirely different type of jam band was playing one of the most unique sets of the day. Bombino, appearing in traditional Niger garb, play their own rock infused version of traditional “Tuareg” music. Led by singer, guitarist Omara Bombino Moctar, the band plays infectious rhythms that meld into classic but subtle jams, sending music fans into a trance induced dancing fever. Rumor was that their late night set the night before in a nearby club, lasted several hours into the early morning, and induced the entire crowd into a sweaty dance trance for the entire set. Just across the way, the Kopecky Family Band was playing a showcase set at the newest addition to the Outside Lands Festival stage's, the AT&T Mobile Lounge. The Nashville based band could be heard playing their own unique version of Fleetwood Mac's classic “Tusk” tune, inside the small tent. The stage, not on the main music schedule offered a small group of music fans a chance to see a close up, less amplified version of several of the band's performing at the festival. The raw direct sound had it's own fresh visceral feel, allowing the performers to showcase their talents directly to festival goers. Back on the main Lands End stage, a massive crowd had gathered to hear the popular New York based Yeah Yeah Yeahs play. Led by the flamboyant lead singer Karen O, the band rocked the stage, belting out their classic hits to the delight of the surging crowd. Over in the nearly blacked out inner sanctum of the Heineken Dome, EDM music fans were in their own dance trance fueled by an array of top DJ's from around the country. Since Saturday was the only one of the three days that did not feature an EDM main stage headliner, many EDM fans spent much of their time dancing the second day of the festival in the Dome. The Indie Folksy rockers, The Head And The Heart
closed out the Sutro stage. The large crowd that gathered were obvious fans of the Seattle based band, dancing and smiling their approval throughout the set.
As the evening fog rolled in, the smoke machines began to churn on the main Lands End stage, paving the way for the closing set by hardcore industrial musical genius of Trent Reznor. The mysterious Reznor may have invented the entire screamo genre, but his musical roots are tied more to the influences of musical prophets like David Bowie and Gary Numan. The sinister staring singer and multi instrumentalist is now a veteran of the unique dark, demonic sound that he invented as Nine Inch Nails, twenty five years ago. Reinventing and reconfiguring Nine Inch Nails for each live tour, there is always a unique feel to each incantation of his live NIN performance. The maestro of screamo infused gloom appeared first onstage alone, with a simple small keyboard and microphone in his latest production of live NIN classics.. Slowly his band mates were ushered onstage one by one and provided their own small electronic apparatus. Looking much like the Godfathers of electronic rock, Germany’s own Kraftwerk, the band stood stoically in the fog backing Reznor's ever increasing growls on the microphone. Harsh lighting, multiple strobe lights, a wall of fog, and an ever morphing metallic background set engulfed the band into a nightmarish scenario, and bathed the audience in explosive random bursts of light. The concert slowly evolved into a more traditional NIN assault on the senses with band members taking up more mainstream rock instruments and breaking into the classic dark industrial screeching sound that Reznor is famous for. Smiling and leering like a madman, Reznor tore through a ninety minute set featuring a few new songs, and most of his well known classic NIN hits. Some in the crowd were overpowered by the ferocity of Reznors show and retreated to the Twin Peaks stage at the opposite end of the park where Phoenix was playing a more pleasant hit laden set of fun danceable pop hits. The crowd eventually spread evenly between the two stages in a perfect dichotomy offering up a dilmena for some and an opportunity for others. But no matter what the missing half of the crowd thought about Reznors closing set in the end, musical history was being made by the Witkin invoking, industrial rock visionary, who constantly reinvents his art form known as NIN.