UTG LIST: 10 Must-See Undercard Acts at Outside Lands 2014

Northern California’s premier, eco-friendly music and arts festival is nigh! The unsurprisingly sold out Outside Lands is set to take place August 8-10 in the historic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA, and Under the Gun Review will be on-site to cover all of its glorious offerings.

We’ll cover Outside Lands’ various food, drink, comedy and art attractions in a followup feature soon, but in this installment of pre-fest coverage, we’re focusing on the tunes. With massive headliners the likes of Kanye West, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and The Killers (not to mention the slightly lower-billed acts including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Death Cab For Cutie, Arctic Monkeys, Tiësto, and The Flaming Lips), to say we’re excited to have the opportunity to attend would be a complete understatement. Adding to that notable list, I personally can’t wait to see Run The Jewels, Jenny Lewis, Lykke Li, Chromeo, Capital Cities, CHVRCHES, The Kooks and so many more.

In this feature, though, we’d like to draw your attention to some of the lineup’s lesser-known undercard acts that we’re anxious to see at this year’s festival as all of these performers are ones that we feel are shoo-ins for stardom. If you’ll be attending Outside Lands in a couple weeks, we suggest you check out what they have to offer and add them to your itinerary.

Night Terrors of 1927 (Friday, August 8 @ 12:00-12:40)

Jenny Lewis won’t be the only former member of Rilo Kiley to be taking Outside Lands by storm. Blake Sennett, who you may also recognize from some of the most important shows from my childhood (see Salute Your Shorts and Boy Meets World), makes up one half of the duo known as Night Terrors of 1927 alongside former Honorary Title frontman, Jarrod Gorbel. Quite the power couple, eh?

Night Terrors haven’t been on the scene for too long, but with their experienced backgrounds and debut EP having been out now for the better part of a year, these two have already accrued a healthy following, and even though they may be one of the very first acts to play on Friday, don’t let that deter you from starting your day off on the right foot as you experience their dark yet anthemic brand of synth-pop.

Typhoon (Friday, August 8 @ 7:50-8:35)

Typhoon’s White Lighter was my favorite album of last year and how this band isn’t one of the most popular in the world right now is beyond me. They should certainly be getting the same recognition as the Edward Sharpes and Mumfords of the world. The amount of instruments, creativity, and fresh folk ideas that are found throughout this Oregon-based act’s catalog is wholly impressive.

I’ve missed a few opportunities to see their massive ensemble perform in the last year but I’m making all the necessary adjustments and sacrifices on my itinerary for Outside Lands to ensure that I don’t miss their set this time around. If you’re attending the festival, make Typhoon a priority, too. You won’t regret it.

Trails and Ways (Saturday, August 9 @ 12:40-1:45)

I first caught wind of Trails And Ways in the early half of 2012 with their stellar single, “Nunca.” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve chilled out or danced to that track. The Oakland-based quartet deliver killer, dreamy indie-pop jams with smooth vocal melodies and bright, cheery vibes often driven by beachy guitar noodling that would likely appeal to fans of Real Estate and Avi Buffalo.

As Bay Area natives, playing Outside Lands will likely feel something akin to a hometown appearance for T&W amidst the countless other acts performing, and I look forward to feeling comfortably at home along with them at lunch time.

The Districts (Saturday, August 9 @ 1:25-2:05)

The Districts are destined for BIG things. This band caught me completely by surprise the first time I heard them (which was in the video below). These guys look far too young (they’re teenagers to my knowledge) to put out the sounds that they do. And by that I mean impressive maturity within raw, organic-feeling songwriting that I can only imagine is influenced by greats such as Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Rob Grote’s vocals are far beyond his years and the pure intensity and emotion on display is both moving and refreshing. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned pioneers of folk rock or more modern acts in the genre such as Delta Spirit, then The Districts should be right up your alley.

I’m truly excited to be able to witness this band live in the earlier stages of their career as I can only imagine where they’ll be in a year or two.

Finish Ticket (Saturday, August 9 @ 2:55-3:35)

These Bay Area youngsters should feel right at home during Outside Lands as they’ll likely be playing to a lot of local venue regulars but also some new listeners that will undoubtedly enjoy their solid brand of pop rock and energetic stage presence.

The band just released their beautiful new album, Tears You Apart, back in May and are still touring it extensively. There’s a lot of material I’m looking forward to dancing to and some that I’ll be pleased to relax with. Fans of acts like Coldplay, Alive In Wild Paint, and Classic Crime will enjoy getting down with Finish Ticket. Their smooth delivery and infectious melodies become increasingly inescapable with each listen.

Vance Joy (Saturday, August 9 @ 4:30-5:10)

Vance Joy has already gained quite the following in his native Australia and elsewhere overseas, but his crossover appeal in the US is just starting to flourish as listeners play catch-up with his excellent debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing (my favorite EP of 2013), in anticipation for the September release of his first LP, Dream Your Life Away. The first time I heard “Riptide” and “Snaggletooth,” I was blown away, and I knew this singer-songwriter would be on the rise from that moment. Having now heard the first single from his upcoming release, Vance Joy has only reassured fans that his inevitable reign isn’t too far off.

I’m looking forward to hearing Joy’s distinctive, reedy vocals live and to dance along with his bright, poppy folk sounds in the likely contrasting San Francisco fog.

The Bots (Sunday, August 10 @ 12:00-12:40)

To my knowledge, the Los Angeles brother duo that makes up The Bots are the youngest musicians to be performing at this year’s Outside Lands and that’s a fact that they should be wholly proud of. I’m new to this band, but from the moment I first saw their video for “5:17,” I was hooked, and not just because Christopher Masterson is in it.

These guys’ funky, proggy, post-punk creations are impossible to resist as they coax thoughts of At The Drive-In, Refused and similar acts that have taken the scene by storm over the years. With their raucous drumming and fuzzy, distorted guitars, The Bots aren’t only the youngest band to get Outside Lands moving, but probably the heaviest, too. Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei already have a handful of releases under their belts as The Bots (impressive!), but they also have a lot of room to grow as they get older, which is a truly exciting notion for those that can already appreciate their budding talent.

Made In Heights (Sunday, August 10 @ 12:40-1:20)

Made In Heights make me swoon. Their lush, dreamy tones and smooth beats coupled with Kelsey Bulkin’s timid and sultry vocals is a recipe that’s difficult to resist. Plus, when Bulkin starts to flow or you’re bombarded with massive moments of production (such as at 2:27 in “Murakami” below), you’re hooked and there’s nothing you can do but surrender and be all the happier for it.

I cannot wait to experience Made In Heights’ sound live for the first time at Outside Lands. There’s going to be a huge, collective groove going on amongst those at their set, so I hope there’s at least a little room for me to get down.

Lucius (Sunday, August 10 @ 2:30-3:20)

Lucius are as colorful in sound as all their retro artwork might suggest, and as you may find their studio recordings to serve as a fresh and unique brand of poppy indie rock, their live sets ofttimes feature more of a psych-rock jam session lifted right out of the ’70s with various instruments and total groove. The infectious dual vocals from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig alone are worth your attention but being backed by Dan Molad, Peter Lalish, and Andrew Burri makes Lucius nothing short of a force to be reckoned with.

I look forward to getting lost in Lucius’ sound in Golden Gate Park. Their set should serve as a perfect mid-day jam for the final day of Outside Lands.

Flume (Sunday, August 10 @ 3:30-4:20)

Much like Vance Joy, this young Australian producer has been making waves in his own region for at least a couple of years now, and he’s already gaining huge amounts of momentum here in the States as well. If you’re looking for an opportunity to lose yourself to dance at Outside Lands, Flume’s set will provide you with an excellent opportunity to do just that. Between his massive, pulsating rhythms and excellent choice of guest vocalists, Flume’s EDM creations can both sooth your soul and kick-start your dance moves with a positive charge.

Flume’s set may be one that I’m looking forward to most, mainly because I know it’s going to be one giant party in a gorgeous setting and I can’t think of many things better for a Sunday afternoon. I’d say a nice, cold glass of craft beer would be a perfectly paired addition but there’s going to be plenty of that there, too, so we’re set!

outside lands

Brian Leak
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One Response to “UTG LIST: 10 Must-See Undercard Acts at Outside Lands 2014”

  1. Those not mentioned that shouldn’t be missed: Local Natives, Phosphorescent, Jagwar Ma, Gardens & Villa