PREVIEW: San Francisco’s Outside Lands 2012

This year’s festival circuit is full of old classics and a few new favorites and San Francisco’s Outside Lands is bringing the best to Golden Gate Park.

Headliners Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young & Crazy Horse are obvious must-see acts and Foo Fighters, Beck and Jack White speak for themselves, but a few other stand-out performers deserve a little love. We could give a list of 30 bands that you “have to see” and we know that planning your festival schedule is always a tricky feat, but B-Sides wishes you the best of luck and we hope this gives you a list to work from.

Regina Spektor – Her new album, “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats,” blew us away a few months ago and it’s a lucky crowd that gets to see her live this summer. She throws out sporadic tempo changes and impromptu, offbeat sounds and her show will bring you to the tips of your toes. Try to pick out her Russian accent while she’s singing – I’ve yet to notice unless it’s during her quips between songs.

Andrew Bird –Bird is incredibly talented and his robust mix of key changes and chamber-like arches create beautiful performances. He’s a melancholy brooder, but his songs offer a calm escape from festival buzz.

The Walkmen – A terrific live show, The Walkmen are much less haunting in person, and surprisingly peppy. The group’s mechanical precision comes alive on stage and their shimmery, romantic waltzes will have you singing along and wishing for more.

Tennis – Small, but powerful, Tennis is a sweet little husband-and-wife duo with breezy songs and wistful lyrics. You might feel like you’re laying out at a beach party instead of a festival, but this is a perfect setting for the romantic treat.

Explosions in the Sky – I’m a Texas girl and whenever I hear them play, they bring me back to the days of high school football games and hot summer nights. We have Friday Night Lights to thank for that, but aside from their television cred, the band is enchanting live. Texas forever!

Trampled by Turtles – At first glance, the bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles was on my “least favorite” list, but then I saw them live at Sasquatch and my entire opinion changed. They have a giant, boisterous roadside following and entertain with forlorn, emotional songs.

Let us know if you’re lucky enough to attend Outside Lands in a few days! Have a blast and move outside of your comfort zone (even if it means persuading your friends with a round of beers).

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