There were many standouts at the sold-out Outside Lands 2014 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco this past weekend. This year’s lineup was led by headliners Kanye West, The Killers and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, who were surrounded by strong talent including Arctic Monkeys, Disclosure, Death Cab for Cutie, Macklemore and more. Kanye West drew mixed reviews as “Yeezy” performed a similar set to previous outings this year. West alternated performing in a mask covering his entire face and without as he started with “Black Skinhead” and powered through setlist staples, “Stronger” and “Heartless”. During “Blood on the Leaves”, West stopped mid-song a few times to encourage the crowd to form a few circle pits. The Killers performed a hit-heavy set as the Las Vegas band opened with “Mr. Brightside” and performed a couple of covers, acknowledging San Francisco by performing “Bad Moon on the Rise” by Bay Area band, Credence Clearwater Revival and “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding.
Unfortunately, day three performers, CHVRCHES cancelled their set at the main “Lands End” stage, due to air travel issues from Vancouver, where they played the night before. This created an over-capacity crowd for Flume, who was performing at the smaller “Twin Peaks” stage. Regardless, fans were thoroughly satisfied as they dispersed through the rest of the park to see the other performers later in the day. The Flaming Lips lived up to their outstanding showmanship reputation, as Wayne Coyne put on a set similar to the current tour, outfitted with dancing mushrooms and flowers, highlighted by the band’s standby festival anthems, “Do You Realize?”, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt.1” and a rousing rendition of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.
There were numerous standouts on the smaller stages during the weekend, which included sets by the alt-rock radio friendly act, Vance Joy, who garnered an enthusiastic crowd even though his set overlapped with the more popular Haim. The latter, performing on the “Lands End” main stage had a tight set that included a cover of “Oh Well” by Fleetwood Mac. Up and comers, Gardens and Villa had a solid attendance and won over new fans as their track, “Colony Glen” had the crowd going. Courtney Barnett has been on many people’s radar and she didn’t disappoint as the singer-songwriter’s music clearly showed how she’s taken the influence of Nirvana and made her sound unique.
Disclosure performed the first day to a very large crowd that danced and moved as the duo was supported by stimulating visuals transforming the “Lands End” stage into one gigantic dance club. Jagwar Ma had a set highlighted by the tracks “The Throw” and “Come Save Me”, that pleased fans who were there for both the EDM and indie-rock lineup. While Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rewound the clock, Boys Noize had a large crowd during the second night, even though he was performing on the smaller “Panhandle” stage. Tiësto captured the EDM crowd who didn’t want the party to end on Sunday night, but was given a great lead-in by Cut Copy. The Australian band had the crowd on its feet and dancing throughout their set that included many of the band’s signature songs, ending with “Lights and Music”. Gold Panda informed the crowd prior to his set that there were equipment issues that prevented him from providing the full musical experience he intended. Regardless, the crowd responded enthusiastically and supported the UK musician as if nothing was wrong.
Golden Gate Park has been a historical place of music throughout its existence, especially during the 60s while Flower Power was at full-strength. It’s been recaptured every summer since with Outside Lands and it seems to get better every year with a lineup unique and representative of the city’s history and present state.