Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outside Lands

"Is this the way the future is meant to feel/Or just 20,000 people standing in a field?"

I went to Outside Lands last Sunday. It was my first time going. I am not a huge fan of outdoor festivals, but being as it is within walking distance of my house, I figured I should go.

We got there just in time to see Tune-Yard's set. I have been meaning to check out their stuff for a while, and I'm more convinced than ever. It was an amazing set, a mix of indie rock with heavy African rhythms and some serious vocal chops. The crowd was loving it, and a pit was started with a group of people doing interpretive dances. There were several thousand people watching her, and was great seeing so many people getting into it.

We sort of wandered around for the next couple hours, watching a few minutes of !!!'s set, seeing a little bit of Josh Ritter, a song or two of Little Dragon, before finally settling down to see Major Lazer at  4ish. I was really excited to see them, but instead of doing a Jamaican DJ set, ie toasting, they did an American DJ set, ie spinning MP3s and twiddling knobs on a laptop. Their was a huge crowd (larger than the crowd who came to see Girl Talk, the headliner from the night before). It was nice seeing the crowd jumping in one massive throng, but I wasn't close enough to get into it, and I ended up feeling let down by the whole experience.

Incidentally, Beyonce's new single "Girls Who Run The World" samples Major Lazer's "Pon tha Floor."

Next we headed to the main stage to watch the Decemberists. I am not a fan of them, but they were good live, and Colin Melloy had some good English professor stage banter. I went to check out Beirut at another stage during their set, but was so far back we couldn't really enjoy it. This was the major issue with the festival: it was so crowded that it was hard to get anywhere near the stages, so you ended up in the back surrounded by people talking and half paying attention. It wasn't optimum enjoying conditions, and there was no set we saw besides Tune-Yards that wouldn't have been much improved in a more intimate setting.

There were two headliners: Arcade Fire and Deadmau5. We opted to see the Arcade Fire, who put on a great show, although being so far away we missed a lot of the effect. When I saw them at the Greek a few years ago, a lot of the power of the show was seeing their ten-strong band interact. Instead, we saw whatever close ups the camera men chose to project on the giant screens above the stage. I saw clips of the Deadmau5 show, and it looked pretty amazing. I'm not a fan of his music, but in context, with the light show, it's killer.

We left twenty minutes before the encore, not wanting to fight our way out with sixty thousand people. We managed to catch a 71 that wasn't uncomfortably full, and got home fine. I don't have a burning desire to go to another festival anytime soon, but I'm glad I went.

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