MTV Video Music Awards
Outside Lands 2014 Sunday Highlights: The Killers, Flaming Lips, Jenny Lewis & More
An estimated 200,000 people showed up in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this weekend for the seventh installment of Outside Lands. Acts like Spoon, The Flaming Lips and The Killers placed the festival’s closing day firmly in rock territory. It was also a day of girl power, with strong appearances from Imelda May, Jenny Lewis and Lucius -- and of deliciously edgy dance beats, thanks to specialists such as Flume and Green Velvet.
Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but the turn up was serious at Outside Lands:
2:30 PM: Irish rockabilly darling Imelda May, stunning in a black-and-white-striped dress, shouldn’t have trouble finding a fella, but songs like “Big Bad Handsome Man” and “Find Me a Good Man” suggest otherwise. (Actually, she’s married to her guitarist.)
2:55 PM: Weird hybrid foods like spaghetti sandwiches and doughnut cheeseburgers have been the norm all weekend at this festival where food gets almost equal billing to the music. At this point, a fish and chip soft taco seems almost too normal, but it’s still a fairly genius take on a portable snack.
3:00 PM: The crowd gathering around the main stage for Scottish electronic act Chvrches is quite confused when fellow countryman Paolo Nutini appears instead. Turns out only half of the band and their equipment made it to the city from Canada thanks to a screw up at the Vancouver Airport.
3:09 PM: Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius prove that they’re “Nothing Ordinary” with their beautiful harmonies, which project more prominently than others have on the same Sutro stage. Do they have access to extra volume, or are they just strong vocalists?
3:35 PM: The sun has been hiding and barely flirting all weekend, but it’s finally out and shining enough for flying beach balls to seem appropriate over the commanding bass drops of Flume. The acclaimed young Australian electronic producer mixes original tracks with his dramatic remixes of artists like Lorde, injecting her “Tennis Court” with a tense new urgency and funk.
4:25 PM: Jenny Lewis serves up “The New You,” one of the freshest selections from her new album The Voyager, and catches the sight of a dude smoking up on the big screen. “What’s up, kid? You just got busted!” she teases. Not missing a beat, she holds the crowd in quiet thrall for a cover of “A Better Son/Daughter” from her old group Rilo Kiley.
4:42 PM: Spoon caps off what has been a special week for the band, having just released the eighth album They Want My Soul, by performing new songs like “Knock Knock Knock.” It’s a witty and sensitive example of the bright recharge that courses through the whole album.
6:01 PM: It’s the definition of hedonism inside the tiny, sweaty dance dome, where people are openly necking pills and smoking weed. We’re pinned against an enormous bassbin that’s throbbing to the will of Green Velvet, the Chicago dance music veteran also known as Cajmere, as he sings live over his 2013 anthem “Bigger Than Prince.”
6:49 PM: The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne has silver fringe on his private parts and his naked torso is painted bright red and veiny like a monster. He’s cavorting with cartoon rainbows and toadstools to the strains of “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1.” After the song ends, Coyne prepares to display his favorite party trick: Boy in the bubble. He crawls in his giant hamster wheel and tiptoes atop the crowd all the way back to the soundboard.
7:10 PM: As the strains of the Lips’ “Do You Realize” waft through the field, the first Native American headdress of the weekend is spotted. Apparently someone didn’t realize that this culturally insensitive accessory is on the outs at music festivals.
7:18 PM: Coyne put an invisible tab on everyone’s tongue for a cover of The Beatles’ lysergic floater “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” It’s a taste of With a Little Help from My Fwends, an album full of Fab Four covers that’s due out in October.
7:26 PM: We spy another oddball fashion choice: A “Reagan/Bush ‘84” t-shirt. The chances of it being worn ironically are high in San Francisco, but it’s a bit startling nonetheless.
8:12 PM: The Killers attempt to coax the evening’s rare supermoon (which appears bigger and brighter than a normal full moon) out of the fog with set opener “Mr. Brightside,” but it’s still hanging in the shadows. “Are you gonna show us a good time tonight?” frontman Brandon Flowers asks. “I believe ya!”
8:35 PM: “Are we human or are we dancer?” Flowers asks on “Human” as an impressive array of colored laser Intellabeams turn the field into a makeshift discotheque for a brief moment.
8:46 PM: Flowers sings noticeably bigger on a cover of “Bad Moon Rising” by the Bay Area’s own classic rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival.
9:08 PM: Another Bay Area-centric cover, this one a surprisingly lighthearted version of “(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. Flowers cheekily bends the lyrics so he can say, “I left my home in Vegas, headed for the Frisco Bay.”
9:33 PM: The Killers close Outside Lands 2014 with a quintessential music festival choice: “When You Were Young.” “Can we climb this mountain? I don’t know,” croons the crowd. “Higher now than ever before. I know we can make it if we take it slow. That’s takin’ easy, easy now, watch it go!”
Until next year, San Francisco.