The Highs And Lows of Outside Lands 2016

Magnetic Magazine dives into the many highs and few lows of San Francisco's Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.
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Magnetic Magazine dives into the many highs and few lows of San Francisco's Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

Another Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park has come and gone, and now San Francisco basks in the afterglow of a full festival weekend. The musical offering included LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and Lionel Richie topping the bill and, indisputably, there was a party. 

Now Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is not your ordinary music festival. It is a festival that is definitively San Franciscan. It is a festival that condenses the essence of San Francisco down to the confines of Golden Gate Park for three beautiful days - the fog and wind be damned!

From the local weather to the impressive cuisine, any attendee who slaps a wristband on his or her wrist can testify that Outside Lands reveals the wonderful culture and soul of San Francisco. To recap this year’s event, Magnetic Magazine will dive deep into the highs and lows of the 8th edition of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

Photo Credit: Andrew Jorgenson

Photo Credit: Andrew Jorgenson.

The Highs

The groove thrives when LCD Soundsystem takes the stage and every crowd dances. It has repeatedly happened from the spring and throughout the summer, and Friday’s performance maintained the trend. The people stood up and moved their bodies, smiles beamed and friends embraced to scream along to all of the hits from “New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down” to “All of My Friends.” LCD Soundsystem might not be a headliner known to everyone due to their four-year hiatus, but the unique dance-punk band proves they still have it. Hopefully it is not another four years before LCD Soundsystem returns to San Francisco, because the band still knows how to play the hits.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz

Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz

Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz.

Now, the legacy act Duran Duran seemed to surprise everyone. They began their set with a bold lightning strike, and the crowd took notice, moving towards the Land’s End main stage with much haste.

 Most attendees were expecting the typical legacy act performance where only a few of their classics are played and it ends up being an enjoyable set to tell your parents about. Not with Duran Duran! They had the crowd dancing and loving every second, and it should come as no surprise that they know how to rock a stage. After all, they did get the nod to a Bond film opening song in A View to a Kill.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic

Photo Credit: FilmMagic.

Sunday’s high goes to the very deserving Chance the Rapper. He is a musician who very clearly loves what he does, and 2016 is his year rising to the top. He does not just live up to the hype, he transcends it all to show his worth as a great talent who deserves all the praise. With more than a heavy dose of gospel influence, and a voice that can rap and sing with the best of them, Chance the Rapper is a must-see act no matter what festival.

Photo Credit: Jack Gorlin

Photo Credit: Jack Gorlin.

Vince Staples overcame some serious sound issues on Saturday. It appears someone had the levels wrong with the hype man and Vince’s mic, but even without the right mic, Vince was rocking it on stage. Once the sound issues were resolved, he played his hits and held the stage with a presence that comedic, sarcastic, and authentic.

Photo Credit: Jack Gorlin

Photo Credit: Jack Gorlin.

The most consistent component of Outside Lands over the years continues to be the food. It's a tough decision when it comes time to dining because the menu allows for such eclectic choices as donut cheeseburgers, Hawaiian poke, fried egg sandwiches, and chocolate-covered bacon. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with all of the top restaurants and food trucks coming out in full force to feed a San Francisco crowds' very refined palate.

Photo Credit: Jason Sheldon

Photo Credit: Jason Sheldon.

The final high of Outside Lands 2016 goes to the crowd that ammassed for the debut performance of The Muppet Show's house band, Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem. It was a rather early booking and you probably would not expect a full crowd for a famous group of puppets, but the crowd was there and the crowd was loving it. The Electric Mayhem played a well-rounded set list of pop covers full of comedic banter and crowd interaction. It may have been The Muppets’ first time ever taking a music festival’s stage, but it certainly will not be their last.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic

Photo Credit: FilmMagic.

The Lows

The biggest low of the weekend goes to Radiohead’s sound guy. Whoever it was, he did not rise to the occasion to mix for the windy elements, and what was arguably the biggest act of the weekend ended up being the most unfulfilling and fundamentally frustrating. With a true-to-form return via their latest studio-length album, A Moon Shaped Pool, and nothing but nonstop critical praise, Radiohead seemed poised to crush the Golden Gate Park Polo Fields. The shortcoming definitely does not fall on Radiohead, but Outside Lands should definitely do something to ensure that poor mixing never alienates an eager audience.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic

Photo Credit: FilmMagic.

Maybe it is a sign that tropical house is officially dead, but the show put on by Thomas Jack on Friday can appropriately be described as lackluster. The Twin Peaks stage certainly has seen better show; the energy was too subdued for any music festival’s first day. Maybe it was the early Friday billing, maybe not enough people had arrived yet, or maybe it was bad sound. The hard truth is that there is no need to keep making excuses for a set where one was hoping for so much more. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Jorgenson

Photo Credit: Andrew Jorgenson