What We Like: Outside Lands Recap

Love or hate Outside Lands, it’s a behemoth music festival — comparable in size and scope to Lollapalooza, Coachella, South by Southwest, and Bonnaroo — and it’s in our backyard. Kathleen Richards gave us her festival highlights in this week’s issue, but here’s what else we liked:


If you haven’t yet heard the debut album by Los Angeles-based duo Rhye, which our music critic Lenika Cruz reviewed earlier this year, go buy Woman right now. (I’ll wait.) Rhye is often compared to Sade for its sensual, hook-heavy R&B sound, but especially for singer Mike Milosh’s sultry, husky vocals. Even knowing this ahead of time, when Rhye appeared at the Sutro Stage on Friday, it took awhile to sink in that a clean-cut dude wearing jeans and a cardigan was singing all those romantic ballads. Milosh scatted through tracks like “The Fall” and “Open,” while the band added rich background vocals and playful jazz solos. If Rhye had perfectly rendered the songs off Woman, that would have been impressive, but giving them new life in a live setting displayed rare talent and thought. — Whitney Phaneuf

When R&B artist D’Angelo canceled his appearance due to a medical emergency, he was quickly replaced by classic Seventies disco-funk band Chic featuring Nile Rodgers. Any disappointment fans might have felt was alleviated by Chic’s set on Friday at the Sutro Stage. In addition to being a talented guitarist, Rodgers is an accomplished composer, arranger, and producer who has had a hand in some of the most successful pop albums of the last few decades (most recently, you may have heard that he co-wrote and played guitar on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” plus two other tracks on Random Access Memories). Clad in all white, Chic owned the stage like veteran performers, warming up the packed crowd with some originals before Rodgers announced: “Now, we’re going to play the hits.” He wasn’t kidding. Chic played songs you’ve danced to a thousand times, but never thought you’d actually hear live, all of which were co-written or produced by Rodgers: Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer”; Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”; and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Chic ended the set on a high note with “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” leaving the stage, but keeping the party going by playing “Get Lucky” over the speakers. And the majority of the crowd continued dancing until the song’s very last seconds, knowing that they had indeed been very, very lucky. — Madeleine Key

Paul McCartney
Outside Lands is capable of many things, but raising the dead isn’t one of them (Coachella already tried that with the Tupac hologram). My hands-down favorite moment of the festival came when a stoned baby boomer leaned over during Paul McCartney’s set and said: “This is just like being at a Beatles’ concert.” I laughed at him, and while he was over-reaching, it was the closest most people would ever come to seeing a band that quit touring in 1966. The nostalgia gave McCartney’s performance a bittersweet quality that made it incredibly moving, even as he played his role as the sweet and innocent Beatle. Or sang cringe-worthy Wings songs like “Band on the Run.” — W.P.

The Food
Sure, the food is overpriced, but instead of paying $8 for a hot dog, you can get sushi, arepas, and mac ‘n’ cheese. Check out 7×7’s roundup of the best edible moments at Outside Lands. — W.P.

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear ended the tour for its 2012 album Shields at Outside Lands on Saturday evening — which was also its 105th show of the year, frontman Ed Droste told the crowd. The Brooklyn-based indie-rock quartet sounded every bit as majestic, hypnotizing, grandiose, and deeply emotional as it does on its albums — maybe better. In the same way that Shields feels like a complete package and well thought-out presentation, a Grizzly Bear show flows from feeling to feeling almost as much as song to song. That is to say, transitions are so seamless they’re barely noticeable (except, perhaps, when the band played its most recognizable tracks, “The Knife” and “Two Weeks”). If anything, the moody performance could have benefited from a later set time: It wasn’t dark enough to appreciate the hovering lanterns illuminated behind the band or the psychedelic light show, which was more visible at Coachella. — M.K.

Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor’s industrial project Nine Inch Nails stayed out of the spotlight for nearly five years until this year, when he played Lollapalooza to start promoting new album Hesitation Marks, which will be released September 3. At Nine Inch Nails’ set on Saturday, Reznor seemed to possess the dark, maniacal energy that fueled Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. He played some of the singles off those albums, including “Head Like a Hole,” “Terrible Lie,” “March of the Pigs,” “Closer,” and “Hurt,” but new tracks such as “Came Back Haunted” were equally compelling. Let’s hope the entire album turns out to be as good as this performance. — W.P.


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