The Best and Worst of Outside Lands 2014
Now in its seventh edition, San Francisco's Outside Lands festival has become a reliable, regular staple on the summer festival calendar. Though it's not quite in the same stratosphere of Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, OSL has its own distinct quirks that reflect its Northern California home. This year's lineup was curated to reflect the eclectic nature of the city, with headliners ranging from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis one night, to Kanye West and Arctic Monkeys another, to lastly, The Killers and Tiesto the final evening. Besides the music, per usual, there was plenty of food samples, beer to guzzle and wine to sip. The culinary aspect has helped define the festival as a true arts festival. While we were up by the Bay, we took in the sights and sounds, and decided on what we loved and hated over the weekend.
Beerlands: On a balmy (by San Francisco standards) afternoon/evening, the second edition of Beerlands was a vast improvement from last year. Featuring a wider array of selections than last year, the area was steadily flowing with people. With some of California's finest breweries offering tastings, it appeared as if Beerlands was a hit with beer nerds. Slowly Outside Lands is evolving beyond a music fest into a cultural event where even the casual beer snob can head to the park, listen to some tunes and drink some high end brews.
Winelands: There isn't much to improve in Winelands, an Outside Lands staple, as opposed to year's past. Yet the wonderful tasting menu that Winelands offers is unlike any music festival on the U.S. today. The tented area brings together California and Nevada's finest purveyor's of wine and even sake, which was a hit with many. Though it's location in closer to the second main stage is a detriment, connoisseurs undoubtably flock to the area.
Tom Petty: What else can be said about the man who has seemingly done it all? Fresh off, incredibly, the first No. 1 album of his storied career, the rock icon played songs spanning his whole career. Granted, this was the usual festival set that featured many of his hits, which was vastly different than his shows at the Fonda that were for diehards. Either way, the Malibu-dwelling Petty brought his laid-back swagger to the nearly 50,000 people, young and old, at the main stage. Highlights included a cover of the Traveling Wilburies' "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" and on the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, a version of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil."
The scheduling: Outside Lands has distinguished itself for the way it is able to intricately intertwine and select bands on the bill who will be the perfect contrast to one another. In this sense, people who are likely to be fans of folk and rock are situated on the opposite end of the park of the EDM and electro-pop listeners. Overall, this makes for a harmonious intersection of people who are each able to enjoy music on their own terms. As a result, we heard very few superficial comments like "they're too old" or "why are they here?" Kudos OSL, you did a mighty fine job with this.
And now for the worst of Outside Lands