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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Outside Lands Day 2: The Black Keys Stare Down a Massive Crowd, Muse Goes Lazer-Crazy, and Even Ed Lee Shows Up

Posted By on Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Muse at Outside Lands Day 2 - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Muse at Outside Lands Day 2

Outside Lands 2011 Day 2

August 13, 2011

Golden Gate Park

Better than: Getting sodden and soggy at Lollapalooza. Too soon?

It was about 6 p.m. on Saturday, and the expansive crowd that had gathered at the Land's End stage was bathed in golden evening light. S.F. Mayor Ed Lee was buoyantly declaring today to be "Outside Lands Day!" to a semi-roar from the crowd. The sun had come out, after all, and the Arctic Monkeys had just finished a fast-paced set of solid Brit rock. Things were, undoubtedly, looking good.

It's one of those bucolic scenes that I associate with music festivals -- the golden light, the sea of bodies, the hands raised in unison to point affirmatively at the band in front of them. And this combination of factors made it feel like it sometimes but not always does in August in San Francisco: summertime.

The day had started out with slightly less promise. Grey skies and vast expanses of empty fields made the festival grounds appear almost ghost-town like; the biggest crowd of people I spotted around 1 p.m. was gathered close to the same Land's End stage, waving their arms for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. They even managed to respond with some enthusiasm to breathy statements like, "Outside Lands, are you ready to dance?!"

Ximena Sarinana - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Ximena Sarinana

Looking for inspiration, I made my way towards the Twin Peaks stage at the other end of the festival. We were high fived by a man in a furry animal hat and blue face paint simply for being "pretty girls." Ximena Sarinana was giving a warbly, wobbly performance on the Panhandle Stage -- she was much improved when singing in Spanish, but her comments to the audience seemed nervous and giggly. Still, she was rewarded for her efforts with a shirtless man dancing, or at least waving his arms around to flex his back muscles and doing cartwheels across the field.

Fortunately, I was given the shot of musical adrenaline I needed just down the way at The Vaccines set. Playing on the Twin Peaks stage, the British rockers dove into their fast-paced, reverb-cranked tracks, showing that a little tempo and a lot of speed can make classic melodies and beats sound new again. With a screech and a flurry of bubbles blown across the crowd, it finally felt as though the day had begun. The Vaccines not only brought the rock, they brought the sun out to stay.

Girls in fringe vests and short shorts alternated between pogoing to the music and smoking out of glass pipes; an adorable pack of gay boys took turns lifting each other on shoulders and singing along to the band. No wonder they were Vaccines fans -- those Brits know how to wear skinny jeans. Although, I couldn't help but smirk at the guitar player wearing a Vaccines shirt (he'd clearly never seen Can't Hardly Wait).

The Vaccines
  • The Vaccines

Sonny and the Sunsets came next, playing back on the Panhandle stage to a sleepy, lazy crowd. Sonny Smith didn't seem too concerned -- he drawled his way through beach rock tunes as people lay in the sun or passed around snacks. STRFKR inspired some serious dance moves shortly after; a guy in khakis managed to rotate his butt in near-revolutions while Charlie Brown-ing (and while wearing khakis!).

I'm a firm believer that, almost always, a band will be better in a small venue than at a festival. Festivals are great for people watching, for discovering new music, and for getting tastes of many bands over the course of a day. STRFKR's set -- which was perfectly fine but was done no justice in daylight -- affirmed this. But Vetiver's set, over on the Sutro Stage, shook my theory at its foundations. The band's performance -- in the marvelous afternoon sun, ringing through the eucalyptus trees -- was every bit as enjoyable as its show at the Rickshaw Stop the night before. Maybe this was because the music seemed to expand in the open air, rather than get lost in it.

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Lauren Sloss

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