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Event Recap: EDM Culture Mingles With Rock—Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2012


August is the sweetest month simply because more music festivals take place than you can ever get to. It’s like livin’ the dream!

This weekend, the three-day, sold out Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in chilly San Francisco made history in a couple of ways. It may not be an EDM culture extravaganza like Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, yet it is significant to those who love DJ culture. Most of all, it gets diehard rock fans talking about electronic music and opens up a dialogue between old and new influences.

Last year, deadmau5 closed out the event in historic Golden Gate Park, going up against main stage act, Arcade Fire. Both artists are luminous in very different ways and their passionate music fans are no less quiet about loving or loathing each act.


No less polarizing this weekend was Skrillex who stepped into deadmau5’s slot to close out the festival with bombastic beats and a space age, levitating stage (a gamers dream). Thunderous was the optimal word. He went up against legendary soul act Stevie Wonder on the main stage and all we can say is, check out those Twitter and Facebook posts from fans of each act. They are on fire!

Speaking of heat, no matter what type of music you listen to, Metallica was the undisputed most talked about and loved act of the festival. They held nothing back on Saturday night—from onstage pyrotechnics to precision rock God performances—in a two-hour set that was mind-blowing to all.

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The festival’s “anything goes” attitude, fashion, music and gourmet food and drink are like no other. Wine Lands is very sophisticated, as are the sweet potato tots with raspberry dipping sauce. You see everything from tie-died old hippies wondering around the wooded grounds (pedaling mysterious wares) to furry-headed friends dancing and singing along to acts like Electric Guest, Washed Out and Tame Impala.

Other top offerings of day one stemmed from indie band Tennis to pro-rockers Foo Fighters. A dance producer needs to get hold of the Tennis lead singer’s sweet vocals. Then there was Beck, who looked like a member of Crazy Horse. No matter how clever the release of his latest album is, the singer-songwriter experienced a mass exodus when Cape Town (South Africa), Ninja rappers Die Antwoord were up on the Twin Peak’s stage.


Later that night, a sea of people streamed to the Meadow Stage to see Justice while Neil Young and Crazy Horse played the main stage. The French electronic producers delivered an energetic, guitar-licking set that tripped the light fantastic. Evidently, fans have finally gotten their heads around the guy’s new ‘80s inspired rock-yet-distinctively-electronic sound.


On Sunday, Jack White seized the day on the main stage. That guy is the Johnny Depp of songwriting and multi-instrumental talent. Wow. On smaller stages, sets by Santigold and 16-year-old British singer Birdy created a buzz.


There is only one mystery about this festival. Although there is a dance tent sponsored by Heineken with house music acts like Julius Papp, Mark Farina and Roy Davis, Jr., we’ve never actually gotten into it. Shocking, because that’s the music we love most. It is enclosed and has a continual line to get inside. Maybe in future years, as the Steve Wonder and Arcade Fire fans are seized by Skrillex and deadmau5 enthusiasts, organizers of the festival will open up and enlarge the dance tent.

Even if not, we’ll be back again next year to see the inroads of EDM culture acts in classic San Francisco rock culture.


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