UTG PHOTOS & REVIEW: Outside Lands 2014, Days Two & Three (8/9, 8/10)


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 from August 8-10 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 countless 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 numerous 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 craft 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 the stars from one of HBO’s funniest comedies do stand-up and share stories about their show. I experienced my first professional improv session. 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 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 9 and 10 below along with reviews of the sets.

Trails And Ways

Trails And Ways were one of many local bands to take the stage at Outside Lands and one that I’d been wanting to see for quite some time. As the first act many festivalgoers watched on Saturday, T&W started the day off perfectly with their brand of relaxed indie pop. One thing that truly impressed me was the fact that all four members sing in the band, often taking turns sharing a song’s entire lead. Throughout the band’s set, their audience grew larger and larger with each song performed as old and new fans alike gathered to experience their chill, and ofttimes upbeat, vibes.

The Districts

The Districts were easily one of the most energetic and vibrant acts that I experienced throughout the entire weekend. This wasn’t necessarily a surprise as their music carries heavy emotional and passionate tones, primarily in Rob Grote’s seemingly seasoned vocals. Despite their folk rock and bluesy tendencies, though, if you watched their set with no sound, judging by their energy and movements, you might think you were witnessing a punk band onstage. Luckily for me, I watched their set and heard their sound as well and the combination was memorable to say the least. These guys are young and have insane amounts of potential. They’re only going up from here.

Vance Joy

Vance Joy created one of my favorite EPs of 2013, and now I patiently await his debut full-length to drop sometime next month. To finally be able to hear “Riptide,” “Emmylou,” and “Mess Is Mine” in a live setting while soaking in the singer-songwriter’s Australian charm was a treat. Even though he and his excellent band were playing one of the smaller stages at Outside Lands, they pulled in a truly impressive crowd with many singing along loudly with massive smiles on their faces.

Vance Joy may already be huge in his homeland but he’s just getting started in The States and his rise won’t be slowing anytime soon. Be sure to check out his fantastic folk and get on board for the trip.

Molotov (Americana Mayhem Entertainment)

You may have seen Molotov and Miss Dixie performing some of their retro carnie feats on AMC’s Freakshow, but if not, you may have seen some of their classic skills performed elsewhere in a carnival-type atmosphere. Sword swallowing, knife throwing, trick roping, the bed of nails, fire stunts…the list goes on.

I happened to catch Molotov at Flotsam’s Wonder World where he was cracking bull whips, playing with sharp things, and skillfully throwing some rope around. Most of this was stuff I had never actually seen in person before, so I was thrilled to witness his impromptu performance and get some pictures.

Made In Heights

Before seeing Made In Heights at Outside Lands, I was already in love with their music. Having now seen the duo perform, I can’t begin to say enough good things about these two.

I’m pretty positive that I shot more photos of MIH than any other act during the entire festival. They were just a joy to watch and I wanted their set to continue long into the afternoon. Beyond their beautiful trip-hop sound (or ‘beauty slap’ as they might refer to it themselves), the biggest surprise was their performance. There couldn’t have been more than a handful of people in the crowd that expected to see these two bust out some synchronized dance moves, but as soon as they started getting into it, there wasn’t a body in sight that wasn’t moving along. For only having two people on a huge stage, it was likely the furthest thing from anyone’s mind as the West Coast-based Made In Heights commanded their space with total swag. Kelsey’s vocals and general presence are as angelic as I had imagined and Sabzi’s confident smirks and happy-go-lucky moves only amplify your feeling of fun.

If you have the chance to see this duo perform, make it happen. You’ll have a blast, trust me.


Before Outside Lands, I was admittedly pretty ignorant to what Watsky was all about. I knew he was a rapper and I knew he jumped off of something into a crowd last year during a performance, resulting in a couple fans being injured. The headline was going around and he got my attention. He also appeared (briefly) in season 4 of Arrested Development, so that’s cool.

Anyway, simply put, Watsky is one hell of an entertainer and talented musician. I was transfixed by this guy onstage. Not only does he rap impressively fast and use witty wordplay, but he never stops moving. He was jumping, climbing, sprinting from one side of the huge stage to the other, all while giving Busta Rhymes a run for his money. Beyond all that, one of my favorite things about his music is that he uses a real band which adds a truly organic element to the whole affair (and is likely only one of the reasons why he fits in with festivals like Warped Tour).

This was also a hometown show for Watsky, so the crowd was large and amped for his performance which likely only boosted his already hyper demeanor.

Jenny Lewis

As you may assume from the meager two photos below, attempting to shoot Jenny Lewis‘ set didn’t go as smoothly as planned. This was no fault of Jenny’s, apart from her popularity of course. The photo pit was insanely packed and nearly impossible to maneuver in. This was due largely in part to the narrow space between the barricade and the Sutro stage, as well as the amount of security staff in the pit.

However, despite the low volume of photos, I wanted to share them regardless as Jenny was sporting her awesome Voyager jacket, guitar and various other rainbow-y set dressings. Apart from the photo pit chaos, Jenny Lewis’ performance was flawless. Her confidence was on point, she sounded great, and the crowd was loving every second of it. She even invited some friends onstage to help back her up for “Acid Tongue.”

Death Cab For Cutie

Prior to Outside Lands, I had been wanting to see Death Cab For Cutie live for roughly a decade, ever since I started listening to Transatlanticism in high school. An opportunity arose here or there but for one reason or another never worked out.

Playing a 13-song set spanning all the way from 2001’s The Photo Album to 2011’s Codes And Keys, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear “Title And Registration,” “Crooked Teeth,” “Cath…” and many more songs, directly from the band themselves, for the first time. Death Cab may not be the most rambunctious band onstage but they absolutely nailed the studio sound of every song and the crowd was dancing and singing along to every word. If you’ve never been part of a monstrous “Soul Meets Body” sing-along, add it to your bucket list.

It wasn’t but a few days following their set at Outside Lands that original guitarist Chris Walla announced that he’d be leaving Death Cab after 17 long years. With such unfortunate news revealed, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to finally see the band with Walla still on lead guitar, contributing such crucial elements as one of the key songwriters and producers to some of my favorite songs.

Misc. Shots From Outside Lands, Days Two & Three

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 taken throughout the weekend which include some delicious foods, enthusiastic vendors, and some of Outside Lands’ various other attractions and talents.

Special thanks to Anthony Medosevic for contributing some photos from our adventure.

Brian Leak

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