The San Francisco Outside Lands Festival has come and gone again. The festival is held each year in Golden Gate Park and features multiple artists on multiple stages. The 2012 lineup featured such diverse acts as Beck, Of Monsters and Men, Foo Fighters, Andrew Bird, Justice, Alabama Shakes, Explosions in the Sky, Big Boi, The Kills, Passion Pit, Sigur Ros, Fun., Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Jack White, Santigold, Bloc Party, Dispatch, Skrillex, and the main headliners were Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Metallica, and Stevie Wonder. That’s a pretty good fucking lineup in a time when most festivals are becoming more mediocre. Coachella was so desperate for talent that they had to resort to booking holograms of dead rappers.
This is my fourth Outside Lands in five years and I live ten minutes by foot from the main entrance. I’m not trying to toot my horn, but I’m pretty much an Outside Lands expert at this point. So believe me when I say that this year was a shit show. It was fucking crowded. And that fucking sucked. I was there pretty much the entire festival. I got there around 1:00 the first day and was surprised at how busy it was. There were already lines for the bathrooms and for food. Fridays generally start getting crowded around 5:00 or 6:00, but it seemed like everyone was anxious to get in early.
I saw the two-man band Tanlines, and they put on a decent show. I headed over to the main stage, Lands End, to catch Fitz and the Tantrums, Beck, Foo Fighters, and finally Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Fitz and the Tantrums had everyone moving, even if their songs aren’t as well known. Beck played a lot of old stuff, including Loser and Devil’s Haircut, but he played a few slow songs in a row, including Lost Cause, which kind of put a damper on the mood. Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters were great. They had a ton of energy and had everyone jumping and singing. They played a lot of old stuff and some new stuff, but everyone was feeling it.
Neil Young is old. He looks old. He doesn’t act old. He was constantly bobbing and moving to the beat, running and jumping, and generally sweating his geriatric nutsack off. He played a lot of old and obscure stuff, with a few recognizable songs thrown in to pacify the crowd. He refused to end songs and every other song had to have a ten-minute guitar solo. It got old real fast. He seemed like he was just trying to fill a two-hour set at times. I know you’re a legend, but you don’t have to be full of yourself. You’re not Clapton or Dylan… you occasionally hang out with Crosby, Stills, & Nash, but you’re not that cool.
Saturday was ridiculously busy. There were people everywhere all day long. It was almost impossible to find anyone. You had to be wearing something distinctive or be near a landmark or a recognizable flagstick. Security was pretty strict that day. They took away my Captain Morgan. That was pretty disheartening. I saw Geographer, Alabama Shakes, Big Boi, Passion Pit, and Metallica. Geographer was all right, admittedly they aren’t one of the bands that I listen to or have heard of before, but they were pretty good. Alabama Shakes was super crowded. They had a ton of people crammed together to watch them, and I listened to a few songs before my group got claustrophobic/pissed off and we left a little early. I liked what I heard, but we were too far away to get close and to get into it.
Big Boi was supposed to play Outside Lands before, but he got arrested and couldn’t make his gig. This time around he kept referring to the “technical difficulties” that kept him from playing last time, so he would take requests and also play new stuff. He played a few hits from the OutKast days like Bombs over Baghdad and Ms. Jackson. A little hip-hop is refreshing in a lineup like this. Passion Pit had everyone dancing and grooving along. Metallica was super loud and had fire. And a bunch of hits that everyone can scream along to. The fire was awesome. I’m still pissed that they shut down Napster.
Finally Sunday rolled around, and the sun still hadn’t made an appearance all weekend. We hoped that it would come out, but it stayed cloudy and overcast pretty much the whole day, with the occasional glimpse of blue sky. I started the day by catching the end of Allen Stone. What a delightful weird looking white guy. I stuck around the main stage for Fun., Franz Ferdinand, and Regina Spektor. Fun. played a great set. They really lived up to their name. Lead singer Nate Ruess was genuinely having a good time performing and it showed. They really got the crowd going, and that was one of the best acts of the day. Franz Ferdinand also got the crowd going, and everyone was having a good time. Regina Spektor was good, but it’s a slower style of music, so people were more mellow during her set.
Santigold was next on my list, and that was a great show. Everyone was dancing and singing and moving to the beat. One of the highlights was when she invited a bunch of audience members to dance on stage for a song. Bloc Party was next. They put on a decent set, but their sound was distorted. It got better as it went on, but it wasn’t as impressive as I hoped it would be.
Like most of the Outside Landers, I ended the day at Stevie Wonder. Quick fact of the day: Stevie Wonder is a blind musician. He played a bunch of songs, because he’s been around for a while and he has a bunch of songs. He even got up and walked around the stage being lead by one of his backup singers. It was very awesome and slightly awkward.
Outside Lands 2012 had a great lineup and lots of things to see, but it was really crowded. I mean super fucking crowded. At times it was not enjoyable with how many people there were. The bathroom situation was a nightmare. A lot of people (either the smart ones or the really fucked up ones) resorted to pissing in the bushes or behind the portapotties. It seems like Outside Lands is getting too big. I might skip out on it next year, but it all depends on the lineup. It always depends on the lineup.
Critically Rated at 14/17