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Outside Lands: Fifteen Lesser-Known Artists You Shouldn't Miss 

Wednesday, Aug 10 2011
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You're obviously going to catch the headliner sets at this weekend's Outside Lands Festival, so we'll assume you're already more than familiar with Arcade Fire, Muse, the Roots, Girl Talk, and Phish. But there are 70-odd other artists headed to Golden Gate Park, some of whom you've never heard of, and others about whom you might need to refresh your memory. Why should you see the following 13 artists? Let us try to convince you.


Friday

The Original Meters: Because of course you know the Meters as the defining Southern funk band, but do you know that Zigaboo Modeliste is the greatest living funk drummer? It's a fact! Take the opportunity during their set — note the "original" in the name, purists — to bow before the man who somehow came up with the seemingly impossible syncopation of "Look-Ka Py Py" and the loose-limbed strut of "Pungee." 2:50 p.m.

Toro Y Moi: Because Chaz Bundick has a way of channeling his memories of '70s and '80s disco and funk into woozy reappropriations that lose none of their bounce and oomph. He's expanded his one-man operation into a full band to support this year's Underneath the Pine, and his live version of the single "Still Sound" will make you wish you packed your rollerskates. 3:50 p.m.

Big Audio Dynamite: Because they're led by Mick Jones, an original member of the Clash who hasn't lost a step since "London Calling." And because there's a very good chance you'll hear B.A.D.'s hit single "The Globe," which you'll surely recognize, whether you were alive in the early '90s or not. 7 p.m.


Saturday

The Greyboy Allstars: Because there's a good chance this San Diego jazz-funk quintet will rely heavily on its stellar 2007 LP, What Happened to Television? That means there's a good chance you'll get to hear its slick take on R&B queen Nancy Wilson's "How Glad I Am" (allowing you to drop that bit of geek trivia to impress your friends). 1:45 p.m.

Vetiver: Because you have a soft spot for late-period Grateful Dead LP In the Dark along with classics American Beauty and Workingman's Dead. Andy Cabic's Sub Pop-signed outfit is one of the preeminent current bands carrying on that groovy tradition, which you'll hear reflected in the sinuous "You May Be Blue" from 2006's excellent To Find Me Gone, and given a shiny update in poppy, organ-driven single "Can't You Tell" from this year's breezy The Errant Charm. 4:15 p.m.


Sunday

Charles Bradley: Because Bradley, who put out his first recording on the hip retro-soul label Daptone at age 52, is proof that the pleading theatricality of Otis Redding and James Brown is alive and very well. And because you'll have a new appreciation for the phrase "soul survivor" when you witness him put his entire existence on the line for the sake of his performance. 12:15 p.m.

tUnE-yArDs: Because Oakland transplant Merrill Garbus' w h o k i l l is likely to stand as 2011's most refreshing breakthrough album. Because she loops her own ukelele, drums, and vocal tics live. Because of the horn break at the end of "My Country," and most importantly because, short of Mavis Staples, you're not likely to hear a more amazing female singer than Garbus at the festival. 1:15 p.m.

Latyrx featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef: Because these UC Davis grads' self-titled album of crate-digging word-salad — rereleased on their own Quannum imprint in 2002 — still sounds like nothing released since. It also doesn't hurt that they're known for feverish, crowd-moving live performances. 2:30 p.m.

!!!: Because while Outside Lands is packed with funk bands, you won't witness anything quite like this Sacramento-formed octet. With LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture, it more or less created the '00s version of "dance-punk" with epic 2003 track "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard," though 2007 single "Must Be the Moon" hits just as hard. Oh, and it's pronounced chk-chk-chk. No need to yell. 3:05 p.m.

Ty Segall: Because just when you think American garages have produced the last fuzzbox-forged clatter from some bratty savant, a kid like Segall comes along. Yet while the recent USF graduate cut his teeth with freaky noise-bursts like last year's "Girlfriend," his 2011 Drag City debut, Goodbye Bread, shows that he has a John Lennon jones as well. 3:55 p.m.

Major Lazer: Because DJs Diplo and Switch stay out of the way of the group's energetic, oft-acrobatic frontman Skerrit Bwoy, playing their bass-heavy mashups of modern Jamaican music while he creates a stagebound three-ring circus. By the way, Diplo and Switch are responsible for M.I.A.'s 2008 smash "Paper Planes," and Beyoncé liberally sampled their "Pon de Floor" on this year's single "Run the World (Girls)," each of which you're likely to hear. 4:40 p.m.

Little Dragon: Because there's a very good chance this hip, electro-tinged Swedish indie quartet will play the title track of its new album, Ritual Union, one of 2011's moments that sounds like it came back to us from a few years in the future. You'll also kick yourself if you miss Yukimi Nagano's stage antics: Her energetic movements are as compelling to watch as her flexible voice is to hear. 5:20 p.m.

Wye Oak: Because this guy-girl indie duo will envelop you in a woozy atmosphere — equal parts '90s guitar-feedback ambience and Jenn Wasner's powerfully spooky vocals — and then shock the beer out of your hand with a sudden squall of noise. And because it's touring behind Civilian, its best-yet album out of the three in its very consistent catalog, which also contains the 2006 single "Warning," which you'll swear is a cover of some '90s Buzz Bin staple. 5:30 p.m.

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Eric Harvey

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