#JackieCreeps: Outside Lands

The cool breeze kissed my face as I stepped off the shuttle bus that departed from San Francisco’s Bill Graham Auditorium to Golden Gate Park. It was early in the afternoon on a Friday but people were already lining up to get their wristbands scanned, ready for a weekend of music and good vibes. Outside Lands, here we go.

 There was a buzz in the air as I followed the trail of eager concertgoers to the main festival grounds. The sun was shining but the wind didn’t hold us back as we made it through a graffitied tunnel with a mural of old school lowriders. Immediately to my left was the huge expanse where the Lands End stage was, where Ra Ra Riot was playing to a crowd of pumped up fans.  

I trekked through the grassy open space, passing picnic tables and people taking selfies at art installations scattered throughout, onto a dirt path and through tall trees towards the Sutro Stage, a  slightly smaller stage than the main one but just as crowded. My group split up at that point so my cousin and I headed to a nearby booth in need of some good grub and a cold one. We found a nice spot to sit by the hilly incline near the stage where New York’s indie pop group Wet was closing their set. An hour into my first Outside Lands and I’m on cloud nine.

Outside Lands isn’t just your average music fest. Just a six hour drive and you’re transported to another world, where 100 degree weather and typical festival problems don’t come your way. Maybe it’s the Bay Area magic in the air, or the perfect 65 degree weather, or the woodsy camping atmosphere- whatever it is, it’s alive and it’s perfect. With notable acts such as Miike Snow, Grimes, J. Cole, Vince Staples,Sufjan Stevens, Lionel Ritchie, Peaches, Snakehips, Diiv, and Lana Del Rey, this year's Outside Lands delivered. I never imagined I would be able to see bands like Foals, Beach House, LCD Soundsystem, and most importantly, Radiohead. Never in a million years did I see that happening. Needless to say, I was beyond excited for the weekend.

Cheers emerged from the crowd as Foals took command of the Sutro Stage. Lead vocalist and guitarist Yannis Philippakis roared into the microphone as the band opened with a fiery frenzy. Jack Bevan’s intensity on the drums complimented the sharp complex guitars and heavy bass provided by Jimmy Smith and Walter Gervers with Edwin Congreave on keyboards. Fans danced to the rhythm as the twangy guitar riff for “My Number” played on. Foals played songs from their latest album What Went Down that included fan favorite “Mountain at My Gates.” The band also performed “Spanish Sahara,” a haunting melody that became progressively raw and jarring. Transfixed, people sang aloud and clapped in time to this striking performance. In signature Foals fashion, they went out with a bang with “What Went Down.” Yannis gave an aggressive final performance, taking the mic and diving into the audience as his energy transcended the stage and into the sea of people.

Indie dream pop duo Beach House was another blow-away act. Lead vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand appeared from the fog and dim lighting, almost floating in her shimmery black cloak. She was just a shadow as she howled into the mic, slowly removing her hood to reveal wild crimson hair. Guitarist Alex Scally gave an invigorating performance as well, as they performed songs like “10 Mile Radio,” “Wild,” and “Take Care,” The standout song from the set was “Space Song” from one of their latest albums, Depression Cherry, a bittersweet and mesmerizing ballad that even starcrossed lovers would appreciate. The twinkling lights, foggy atmosphere, and flashes of white stage lighting gave the space an ethereal feel as the audience got lost in the music.

LCD Soundsystem are one of those legendary rock bands you can’t afford to miss. To see them play live after their reunion is as rare as finding a double rainbow near a pot of gold- it just doesn’t happen. It was like an open air disco as they jammed on, playing hits like “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” “I Can Change,” and “Someone Great.” I danced away to the sounds of “Home” and sang along with a random group of people as we made a dance circle with people waving glowsticks. The buildup of “Dance Yrslf Clean” made us all erupt in a wave of pure bliss. They closed the night with a moving performance of “All My Friends,” showing just how great James Murphy and the rest of LCD can put on an all night dance party.

One of the headliners for this year’s Outside Lands was none other than Radiohead, one of the most iconic British rock bands of our time. With a musical trajectory that spans three decades and an evolution of sound as varied and complex as theirs, Radiohead delivered a powerful two hour set. I’ll be completely honest: the fact that I was going to see one of my favorite bands of all time, really of ALL TIME, hadn’t really hit me, even as the lights went up and they took center stage. In fact, I still can’t believe it. I keep reliving flashbacks to that night; it was like a good dream that you never want to wake up from. In my opinion, their music is so profound and has been so life changing to me that I don’t think I’ll be able to fully recover and suffer through Radiohead concert withdrawals.

Radiohead played a variety of tracks from their catalog, from albums such as In Rainbows, their latest release A Moon Shaped Pool, and even their eponymous third album OK Computer. Songs like “Climbing Up The Walls,” “Bloom,” and “Pyramid Song” were hypnotizing. Thom Yorke’s pleading vocals mixed with the raw guitars and bass provided by Ed O’Brien and Colin Greenwood bewitched the crowd with everyone swaying in perfect synchronicity. Phil Selway pounded the drums with such precision and strength while Jonny Greenwood was in his own element on keyboard/synths and guitar. The crowd fell silent as Yorke sang  “Exit Music (for a Film)” and there wasn’t a dry eye in sight. I sobbed but it was more a release of different emotions just pouring out and not of sadness. I sang and held my palms up, eyes closed, allowing the music to take over. The transitions from song to song were captivating, almost as if Radiohead knew exactly what the crowd needed. We were in a trance: at one point, Thom was leading us into a series of claps and when he went faster, so did we. When he stopped, so did we. We were put under a spell. There was such an ease to it all, a continual flow, evident as they played song after song. When “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” carried on into “Everything in its Right Place,” there was a collective consciousness, a unifying force, between us and them. Everything really was in its right place. Radiohead’s encore performance included classics like “Let Down” and “Nude” and fans sang at the top of their lungs to “Karma Police,” the closing song for the night.

My Outside Lands experience was more than I could’ve ever asked for. I spent three days of my summer immersed in music and art and spent it with people I love. I saw some great live acts and discovered new music. I stood front row for some of my favorite bands in a perfect atmosphere. Sure, I came across big crowds and long lines and overpriced food, but it was all worth it. It was worth the hour long train rides and the sunburnt face and the tiredness and aches. I was in heaven and this will forever leave a mark on me.

Article by: Jaqueline Castaneda

Photos by: Jaqueline Castaneda and Vanessa Lopez