UTG PHOTOS & REVIEW: Outside Lands 2014, Day One (8/8/14)

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Under The Gun Review co-owner and editor, Brian Lion, attended the Outside Lands Music & Arts festival in San Francisco, CA from August 8-10.

The 7th annual Outside Lands Music & Arts festival took place this past weekend in the historic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA. Hosting upwards of 180k attendees, Outside Lands provided music and art lovers with a wide array of the world’s largest bands, as well as ridiculously delicious foods, beers, wines and art displays from local and national artists, all in an eco-friendly atmosphere. To fully delve into everything I experienced throughout the 3-day fest would likely take far too much time, but I can assure you that it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before. The opportunity to see the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Kanye West, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab For Cutie (amongst countless other premier acts) in a live setting is something I’ll never forget. Beyond that, for it all to take place in such a gorgeous location as GGP, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of music fans smiling, dancing, and enjoying everything the festival had to offer, was both refreshing and rewarding.

I lost count of how many firsts I had during Outside Lands, but I tried so many beers and foods I had never tasted before, all while watching some of my favorite bands perform in one of the world’s greatest cities. I ate a donut cheeseburger with bacon. I watched an hilarious and talented magician in an intimate setting. I experienced my first professional improv show. I conducted somewhat of an impromptu interview with an actor that was riding a bacon-powered motorcycle across the country! The list goes on and I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for the experiences.

As I took far more pictures during the first day of the festival, I’ve decided to break up my post-fest coverage into two parts, with the first half consisting of only day one and the second covering both days two and three. You can view all my photos (click on them to view them full-size) from August 8 below along with reviews of the sets. Make sure to check back within the next few days for the second half of Outside Lands coverage.


Night Terrors of 1927

Night Terrors Of 1927 were the first act that many festivalgoers experienced this past weekend for Outside Lands. They began playing at noon on Friday, August 8 just an hour after gates opened and started attendees off on the right foot with their own brand of often-eerie indie rock. Performing on the Panhandle Stage, the Los Angeles outfit no doubt acquired some new fans as they provided listeners with a look into their excellent debut EP and what’s in store on their forthcoming release.

P.S. Seeing Blake Sennett — someone who I watched on television regularly as a child (Boy Meets World, Salute Your Shorts) — play guitar no more than a couple feet away from me was pretty exciting, I have to admit.


Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass were easily one of my biggest surprises of the three-day experience. I had only recently come across them when preparing for Outside Lands, but after watching some performances on YouTube, I knew I had to see them live. These guys are insanely talented and provide some absolute bluegrass jams. Just watching Paul Hoffman get down as he tore through some mandolin riffs was worth the trek clear across Golden Gate Park. I’d be lying if I said I was well-versed in bluegrass prior to seeing this band, but they’ve certainly put the genre on my radar. I’ve always been a sucker for the less mainstream stringed instruments like mandolin, lap steel guitar and banjo, and Greensky Bluegrass only proved that when you bring all of those into the mix with some quality vocals and songwriting, you’ve got one hell of sound to boast.


Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels were one of my absolute must-see acts for Outside Lands. I manipulated my schedule in whichever ways I could to ensure I experienced their entire 50-minute set, and as you might tell from the volume of pictures below, I took complete advantage of the three-song rule.

Killer Mike and El-P’s chemistry would make Dmitri Mendeleyev jealous. The charisma shown by both emcees onstage is everything you’d expect by the pure cohesion found on their debut album. Watching these two perform was just like watching two best friends live out a dream. It was fun and inspiring and completely entertaining. Their genuine appreciation expressed to the crowd was heartwarming, too, and to hear some of my favorite bars in hip-hop in a live setting was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend. Run The Jewels delivered in every way, which included bringing out the legendary DJ QBert to further the crowd’s amazement during “Pew Pew Pew.” If you have the opportunity to see RTJ live, do whatever it takes to make it happen. Killer Mike, El-P and DJ Trackstar put on one hell of a fun show.


Chromeo

Chromeo know what fans want: a fun, energy-filled performance and awesome stage setup to accompany their undeniably funky jams. From the moment their unique, female-legged synth stands are revealed, the crowd goes nuts, and when that “Chro-me-oh! Ohooooh!” chant starts, it’s on.

Their set-list may stay relatively the same for some time, but it works, and the Outside Lands attendees absolutely ate it up. Chromeo incited an epic dance party at the Land’s End main stage Friday night amongst a massive crowd of fun-lovers. This was my first live Chromeo experience and now that I know what it’s like, I certainly hope it’s not my last.


Tegan and Sara

Due to changes in my schedule, I was only able to watch the first half of Tegan and Sara‘s set, but as someone not completely accustomed to their music, I now understand why they have such a devoted following. The duo sounded perfectly pure and confident onstage and their sisterly jabs at one another made for a very comforting, natural, and overall fun atmosphere. There were sing-alongs aplenty, and from scanning the crowd, it seemed as though everyone was dancing and singing their hearts out during the evening set.


Typhoon

In the past year, I’ve tried to see Typhoon at least twice with each attempt resulting in a fail. With that in mind, Typhoon was a band I was absolutely not going to miss at Outside Lands. Afterall, their 2013 LP, White Lighter, was my favorite album of the year.

Despite a couple technical issues that were out of the band’s control, I was beyond impressed with how much the 11-member, Portland, Oregon-based outfit was able to perfectly match their studio sound. Typhoon pulled in a hell of an impressive crowd at the Panhandle Stage with smiles and sing-alongs that surely made them feel at home. I hope they added slews of new recruits to their much-deserved fanbase Friday night.


Miscellaneous Shots From Outside Lands, Day One

Like many festivals, Outside Lands has almost too many things to see and experience. I tried to eat as much food, drink as much beer, and see as much art as I could, but when you have 10 sets you plan to see each day, it’s simply impossible to make it all happen. The more tired, sore, and sunburnt I became, the less I felt like approaching people to take their photos, no mater how awesome or inventive their outfits or costumes were. However, below are some random shots I took throughout the first day of the festival which include some of the previous years’ live painting murals, some enthusiastic vendors, and some of Outside Lands’ various other attractions.

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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  • Leslie Ellis

    Great photos, Brian! Along with your commentary, it’s the next best thing to being there! I would love to see Typhoon live (thanks for turning me on to them) and I’ll definitely check out Night Terrors of 1927 and Greensky Bluegrass. It sounds like it was a fun gig for you! I want to spend a week at Beer Camp now, and am coveting a giant Head of Hodor that I never knew I wanted before. Can’t wait to read about Days 2 and 3!

  • Brian Lion

    Thank you, Leslie! Typhoon was really great. I was thrilled with how much they nailed the sound from the records. I really didn’t see any bad sets which was nice. Some were just more entertaining than others, of course. The Hodor head was a highlight, too haha.