Dozens of acts from all sorts of genres and fusions took to Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park this weekend.
The festival offered something for just about every type of Bay Area fan, with acts specializing in reggae, rap, and of course, rock and all its incarnates.
From the Easy Leaves duo to Elton John, an incredible array of talents played on all three days, and each performer truly brought their own big style to the stage. Tame Impala bathed in a rainbow fog, Elton John lit up Land’s End with a quirky checkerboard, and Kendrick Lamar’s set displayed a pastiche of scenes from real life. All in all, every act was magical.
However, everyone has favorites — we certainly did — so here are all of our big weekend highlights.
Friday, August 7
Been obsessed with their new album, finally got to see them live which was awesome! They put on a great performance and the frontman’s stage presence got everyone in the crowd hyped up. It was a party! – Danica
So many buzz bands fall short of meeting expectations. Not these guys. In front of a MASSIVE crowd at the Sutro stage, Glass Animals delivered one of the weekend’s most memorable sets. Their song “Gooey” had everyone dancing, while the chill sounds of “Black Mambo” seemed to put the audience in a trance. A surprise cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” generated palpable excitement, further cementing their place as one of the coolest new bands around. – Dead Eyes
Emilie Rainbow (@emilie_rainbow) August 08, 2015
Beautiful soundscapes in Golden Gate Park as the sun was setting. – Dallas
Dude in Outhouse
Great food at Outside Lands can be yor worst enemy in a few hours. I heard quite an acoustic performance coming from OUTHOUSE #334. It was like beat boxing in an actual box. – Kevin Klein
He could’ve done nothing for the rest of his set after opening with video of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” and I would’ve been satisfied. But still, he gave me an energetic midday show that made me f—king dance. (dance dance dance dancedancedancedance). – Patrick the Useless Weirdo
When he was announced back in 2013 and then dropped, I was pretty bummed. But now that Black Messiah has come out and blown me away, his debut in Golden Gate Park was everything that I could’ve asked for, especially being 10 feet from the stage. He went all out making Sutro the stage to be at Friday night. – Patrick the Useless Weirdo
I don’t know D’Angelo’s music that well — I was encouraged by a friend to check him out after his recent show at the Fox in Oakland — so I took a shot and headed to his set on Friday. I was completely blown away by D’Angelo’s stage presence, his incredible musicianship, and just the overall performance. I can’t wait to see him again. – Alyssa Pereira, Live 105 Digital
Saturday, August 8
Five Footprints (last minute fill-in for Fantastic Negrito)
As disappointing as it was for Fantastic Negrito to have to deal with an absolute awful situation that resulted in a cancelled performance, his replacements absolutely killed. Four comedians performing improvised Christian a cappella music less than a half hour after performing in the Barbary and getting the whole crowd to chant “More Dick!” is a perfect example of the brilliant insanity that can occur at Outside Lands without a moment’s notice. – Patrick the Useless Weirdo
I was super excited to see Fantastic Negrito, but unfortunately they couldn’t make it. So four awesome comedians decided to fill in as a Christian A Capella group that took a turn for the crazy by the end of their set. Honestly one of the best things I’ve ever experienced at OSL. When you end a set and hundreds of people are yelling “MORE DICK!”, you know it was a good day. – Danica
Anthem for anthem, Billy Idol can hold his own against any artist. Those songs hold up, and did anyone see stilts girl dancing to “Mony, Mony”? Billy Idol still has it, and that set made me forgive him for stealing Spike’s look (you’re welcome, Buffy fans).
The biggest sing-alongs of the weekend & the man’s still got it. – Dallas
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
Burning One Down with Ben Harper, who was wearing a Pied Piper (Silicon Valley) shirt, was a great way to learn how to “burn one down” incase you’ve been doing it all wrong. It was nice to be a part of a good type of burning trees. – Kevin Klein
The Sutro stage is a magical place. It’s like nature carved a hammock in the woods. They should make it a “My Little Pony” set. During Ben Harper’s performance of “Steal My Kisses” there was a guy near the pizza and cookies that was actually in 1969. He spun, he flapped his arms trying to take off, he ran circles around strangers, all while singing the wrong lyrics.
Cold War Kids
One of my favorite bands, so stoked on seeing them for the third time this year. They put on an amazing show every time and they killed it, like usual. – Danica
Lisette Worster (@LisetteWorster) August 08, 2015
First off, meeting these guys at BFD was a blast. They were so down to earth, and genuinely excited for the opportunity to perform. I saw that same energy during their performance at Outsidelands. They were so natural, fun, and their version of Uptown Funk kicked ASS. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future. – Ally
James Martin (@Jamesco) August 09, 2015
Aussie Psychedelic rock specialists lived up to all the hype and delivered a mind-blowing and hypotonic live set, just as the sun was setting on Saturday at Golden Gate Park, and their set list was chalk full of selections off one of 2015’s finest albums of the year so far: Currents. – Aaron Axelsen
Since Kendrick dropped To Pimp A Butterfly, I told people that his set at Outside Lands wouldn’t just be a rap set. I said we’ll look back on it one day as a hugely important cultural moment. Kendrick is our Bob Dylan. Our Maya Angelou. Our Pete Seeger. Our John Lennon. He’s saying things that make us uncomfortable and disrupt the way we think about our lives and in art, that’s necessary. To experience that in person (despite how miserable I was being in such a tight crowd), was something I’ll never forget. – Alyssa Pereira, Live 105 Digital
The Black Keys are two of my best friends, so I had to include them on this list.
Sunday, August 9
The super producer turned Twin Peaks into a West Coast party for the entirety of his 50 minute set.Fun fact: his real name is Dijon. – Dallas
Tucked away in McLaren Pass there was small stage called Gastro Magic. Full of artists and comedians cooking and performing with celebrity chefs, with titles like PJ and MJ, Sexual Chocolate and more. Closing out Sunday night was a spectacle known as Mac Sabbath. Imagine if Ozzy Osbourne was driving a truck full of the ooze that mutated the Ninja Turtles and drove it into a pack McDonald’s, or if the Aqua Teen Hunger Force was real and started a heavy metal band, you have started to understand the magic that is Mac Sabbath. Parodying songs of Black Sabbath but changing lyrics with a fast food theme (“Frying Pan” instead of “Iron Man”) a tusked Mayor McCheese look alike, a Grimace that looked heavily under the influence, and the fro man who goes by Ronald Osbourne, the band blasted through their set and have officially un-officially re-named McLaren Pass to MacSabbath Pass. – Brandon Paski, Promotions Director
Including his Sunday show, I have seen this dude perform three times in the last 12 months. His shows are the most fun you can have with a crowd of people you’ve never met before the show. Plus, anyone who orchestrates a dance battle in the middle of the Panhandle crowd deserves a mention for concept alone. – Patrick the Useless Weirdo
Jarvis Johnson (@blogonjarvis) August 10, 2015
Damn I love Givers. They are a rainbow of a band, so happy to make bright-eyed, grin-spreading pop. They are ecstatic, and I just can’t help but get psyched to see them, especially after they took something of a hiatus for a while. I can’t wait to hear the next album. – Alyssa Pereira, Live 105 Digital
To the untrained eye, they just look like quirky, British weirdos. Truth is, Hot Chip is one of the best electronic acts of the last decade. Listen to “Ready For The Floor”, “I Feel Better”, “One Night Stand”, or “Over and Over”. If you don’t start dancing, you don’t have a pulse. Lead singer Alexis Taylor – with his distinctive falsetto and Mickey Mouse sweatshirt – owned the main stage at Outside Lands on Sunday night. From the opening chord to the final note, it was a strong set through and through. – Dead Eyes
Joseph M. Patterson (@jpatterson89) August 10, 2015
By far the best live set I’ve seen to date from Seattle’s favorite beatmakers, and they brought out a live horn section to boot. One of the strongest received sets from OSL, too, as the crowd reaction was insane. – Aaron Axelsen
Sam Smith Canada (@SamSmithCA) August 10, 2015
Sam Smith is a once in a lifetime talent. He’s come along way from the reserved character we saw on stage for Popscene at Rickshaw Stop months ago. His cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On My Own” (also mixed with Chic’s “Le Freak” and the classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”) nearly brought me to tears. What an amazing singer. – Alyssa Pereira, Live 105 Digital
What can I say? It was surreal to watch that fabulous tooth-gap pounding away at the piano. He played all the best hits, wore a flashy blue jacket with the word “fantastic” on it, and genuinely gave a stand-out performance. The audience was going nuts. And so was I. – Ally
Monday, August 10
(@KevinKleinLIVE) August 10, 2015
His Outside lands performance was 2 days late, and on our show, but I’d say it was worth the wait. – Kevin Klein