Fickle weather and last-minute headliner replacements aside, Outside Lands was a success, by most yard sticks. Here's what folks are saying about the three-day extravaganza, which drew more than 100,000 people to Golden Gate Park:
The Chron's Aidin Vaziri noted the lack of "urgency in the air" for big-ticket headliners, but added that the event itself was the event: "unlike last time, when people stampeded for hot commodities like Radiohead and Wilco, this year it felt like they were there simply soak it all in - the sun, the spectacle, the food, the alcohol and, hey, maybe some music from a lineup that was decidedly diffuse."
7x7 posted a video compilation of some of the performers, including M.I.A., Silversun Pickups, Bat For Lashes, Zion-I, Portugal. The Man, the Dead Weather, and John Vanderslice.
SFist's Day Three coverage gushed over Bettye LaVette: "the best performance of the day, if we had to choose, came from recently re-issued soul singer Bettye LaVette, who sang a doozy of a number called 'Let Me Down Easy' and also covered Sam Cooke's 'Change is Gonna Come,' which she sang at President Obama's inauguration." SFist's Day One and Two photo galleries and commentary is here and here .
Bay Area News Group's Jim Harrington announced, "the event was definitely better organized, with the promoters (Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment working with a pair of national presenters) having ironed out many of the issues that dogged the 2008 affair. Notably, the traffic control -- in terms of both foot traffic inside the park and the public transportation serving the event -- went smoothly. Also, the bathroom and concession lines weren't as intimidating as last year."
The improved logistics made a huge difference from the previous year, others agreed. "I was really impressed with the infrastructure," said Power to the Peaceful's Gina Gallo.
"I don't feel comfortable at a lot of festivals," Boots Riley confessed, adding that this one was different, since it was in his home region, and he knew more people.
Apparently, MTV.com completely ignored the festival--I couldn't find even a single review--yet RollingStone.com dedicated extensive coverage, reviewing M.I.A.'s set , covering Pearl Jam's day one headlining set , Tenacious D's battle with the "Devil" , and performances by the Mars Volta and Mastodon .
RS.com also noted that the Beasties' replacement had a sense of humor about the whole thing:
"Tenacious D souvenir T-shirts depicted Beastie Boys' Check Your Head album cover with [Jack] Black and [Kyle] Gass photoshopped in. The title read Check Your Headliner."
My personal gripes were few: I wished more people could have seen Thievery Corporation's amazing Friday set, and would have spent more time in the Barbary tent, where the Vau de Vire society and various cabaret performers held forth. Maybe M.I.A. should have been bumped up to headliner, but from most accounts, Tenacious D proved entertaining (I didn't see them because, well, it was hella cold at that point).
What does it all mean? Well, according to Superfly Productions honcho Rick Farman, the festival will be back next year for certain. As he told Rolling Stone.com, "We're in it for the long term. We're thinking in terms of decades."