The second day of San Francisco’s annual music and arts festival Outside Lands brought classic rock hits, booty bouncing beats, furry freaks and even a surprise same-sex wedding proposal to scenic Golden Gate Park. Across genres, new songs were unveiled and fresh obsessions cemented.
But it wasn’t all love; with acts like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers scheduled at the same time as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, friendly rivalries heated up in competition. Artists had to bring their A-games in order to hold the fickle crowd’s attention. Read on to see who managed to shine in a sea full of stars:
1:40 PM: Tennessee treasure Valerie June teases out new songs for the small but ardent audience members who have gotten an early jump on their day. She’s enviably positioned at the Sutro stage, the area that greets guests as they come through the gates.
1:55 PM: Britpop preservationists The Kooks have drawn an impressive amount of people to the main stage at this hour. It’s already evident that even though all three days of the festival were sold out, there are a lot more bodies in attendance today than the day before.
2:30 PM: Australia’s psychedelic dance trio Jagwar Ma are tripping out over the trees. “It’s cool seeing all these eucalyptus trees here,” says frontman Gabriel Winterfield. “Where we’re from, there’s koalas in them.”
2:50 PM: “Release your wiggle!” On the GastroMagic stage, where food and music mash up, New Orleans bounce ambassador Big Freedia eggs on awkward audience members to make it clap for fluffy beignets from local institution Brenda’s French Soul Food. (Chef Brenda Buenviaje is standing behind them, giggling.) Freedia’s own female and male backup dancers bounce into the splits, leap in Capoeira-like flips and execute other fierce, gravity-defying maneuvers not seen too often around these parts. The whole scene is ridiculously infectious; we’re twerking in a tree.
3:12 PM: Unicorns are spotted sipping rare vintages inside the Wine Lands pavilion. In fact, there are a lot of furries in here and it suddenly occurs that they are the smartest group at the festival. No, really — they’re shrouded in fuzzy, head-to-toe warmth and protected from the misty and upper 50-degree weather that is Golden Gate Park’s hallmark.
3:21 PM: East Bay indie rockers Finish Ticket recently made the leap into the major label world, signing with Atlantic Records to release the album Tears You Apart. As they perform “Tranquilize,” a big and memorable single with a sedate name, it’s clear how far they’ve grown since working the local all-ages concert circuit. Singer Brendan Hoye (whose twin Michael Hoye is on bass) expresses how excited they are to be back home.
3:52 PM: San Francisco’s own rising electronic producer Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) is also so happy to be playing at Outside Lands after a lengthy stint on the road. “It’s really great to be home,” he says, “We never could have dreamed of this!” His lush basslines and leisurely downtempo-to-ambient pace has people laying down blankets for the perfect en masse chill moment.
4:14 PM: A sizable line is forming for the Sip and Shave lounge, an old-fashioned grooming service for men hosted by Esquire Network. Huh?
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4:45 PM: Haim woke up like this; they’re flawless. But why are they on so early? Can these goddesses of rock please come back on later? Lead sister Danielle Haim insists that San Francisco is their second home and asks everyone to pretend they’re in the Haim family living room, complete with beer coozies and endless snacks. A gajillion girls instantly rise up on shoulders. Then the jam really begins, and Este Haim’s infamous “bass face” comes out to play. They look so good tonight.
5:17 PM: Fried dough has been on the brain since Big Freedia’s booty bounce beignet brunch earlier in the day. Fortunately, the epicurean caliber of this festival is second to none, and carby cravings are not hard to find here. These come dusted in powdered sugar and drizzled in chocolate sauce.
6:00 PM: Death Cab For Cutie eschews brand new for retro, even though there’s a demand for new material. The band starts this set with early songs like “I Will Possess Your Heart,” “Crooked Teeth” and “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.” It almost feels like eavesdropping on a private conversation.
6:45 PM: Queen diva Big Freedia and his dancers have way more wiggle room on the larger Panhandle stage, and the booty quaking is even more widespread out here. Particularly among less-than-coordinated dude bros.
7:22 PM: As A-Trak and Armand Van Helden spin tough tunes by their dance duo Duck Sauce from the flashy confines of a neon bowl, plastic duck bills are thrown out into the crowd. “I wanna see some bills up on shoulders!” commands A-Trak. “Lemme see my female quacks. My duck ladies — make it beautiful!” Just as we start to think that they’re having too much fun up there, they come out from behind the decks to spray everyone with Supersoaker-powered streams of water.
8:14 PM: After singing the patriotic favorite “I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty expresses gratitude: “Thank you for singing, I can hear you out there!” The field is even louder for the next song, the MTV hit “Free Fallin.’”
8:36 PM: This is a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers set, but the band still performs “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” a 1988 song by The Traveling Wilburys, the supergroup consisting of Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jim Keltner.
9:03 PM: The crowd sings the chorus on an acoustic version of “Learning To Fly.” It’s an intimate moment shared among tens of thousands.
9:09 PM: The consequence of arriving late to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ set is having no clue as to why they’ve started their set dressed as a mariachi man and the Karate Kid. But they soon shed the flair for basic white as they invite Chris Mansfield aka Fences onstage to perform their new single “Arrows” for the second time ever.
9:15 PM: Mack praises the Bay Area’s history of civil rights, including the fight for “the right for all hearts to have the freedom to love whoever they wanna love.” He brings a woman named Jenny onstage to propose to her stunned girlfriend Natalie. The betrothed walk off as Mary Lambert, resplendent in a bright red dress, starts singing “Same Love.” Dry eyes, we hardly knew ye.
9:29 PM: “I’m a huge Tom Petty fan,” Macklemore insists, “but when we drop this beat I want everyone at Tom Petty to hear you turn the f–k up!” That’s right, the Heartbreakers “Can’t Hold Us!”
9:41 PM: Tom Petty’s stage is lit up in red, white and blue for the second and final song of the encore, “American Girl.” “The first time we played this was at The Keystone in Palo Alto,” recalls Petty. “We’re gonna reach back to 1976!”
9:48 PM: Petty takes his guitar off and waves to the crowd. The band locks arms and takes a collective bow as he says, “God bless and good night.” With some of Outside Lands’ biggest acts still to come on Sunday, there are boundless potential blessings still to be revealed.
Additional reporting by Jason Black