Outside Lands 2015: An Oral History

A few of us were able to make it to San Francisco’s eighth hosting of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park.

Here, have some hot takes about what we thought about the performances, food, and festival in general.

The Festival

MH: Outside Lands: still really, really dusty.

MMDG: OSL organizers seemed to have underestimated the number of people who would opt for hip-hop and electro performances. Twin Peaks stage area was often a madhouse. That DJ Mustard thing still puzzles me. Then again, the whole festival seemed crazier than prior years, in terms of attendance. Especially on Sunday.

MH: I have to agree. I think the Twin Peaks stage is starting to get too small to act as the second main stage. Last year it got pretty packed for certain sets, but this year, every time I went back it was a total shitshow. I was shocked when the daily lineups came out and I saw Kendrick Lamar was assigned there. 

The ever-crowded Twin Peaks stage.
Hustle and bustle at the Twin Peaks stage.

MDDG: Young people be gettin younger.

MMDG: I didn’t buy a single t-shirt. Of any kind. That might be a festival first. And I only bought one print.

MH: I still haven’t had the pleasure of seeing someone dig up the alcohol they buried a week before the festival.

MDDG: Cell reception was amazing: you’re welcome everybody.

MMDG: I did buy a Ranger Dave bobblehead. Probably one of five people to do so. Did you notice how his hand is extended and cupped slightly? Give me your money. No, all your money.

MH: I loved all of the mini-stages this year. There were a handful last year, but this time it seemed like you literally could not escape the music.

MMDG: True. One of my favorite moments was leaving the Amon Tobin set a little early, and then getting drawn up the hill behind Hellman Hollow to watch Insects vs. Robots on the Hell Brew Revue stage.

Insects vs. Robots at the Hell Brew Revue popup stage.
Insects vs. Robots at the Hell Brew Revue popup stage.

MDDG: Balboa after hours was pretty hopping. Outer Rich needs more festivals.

MH: Two years running, the Heineken House still scares the shit out of me.

The Performances

MH: Givers won my award for Best New Group I Hadn’t Heard Of. I was already excited when I saw the additional percussion on stage, but then that girl stepped up, and in a fit of head-banging, lost her sunglasses; I was smitten.

Givers at the Panhandle Stage
Givers at the Panhandle Stage


MMDG: That Amon Tobin thing? Visually, super cool. The music? Eh.

MH: There were a few pretty incredible performances this year, but I think I have to hand it to Kendrick. He had the Twin Peaks stage more packed than I’ve ever seen, with the crowd totally hooked the whole time. After a couple years giving Good Kid, MA.A.d City time to marinate, it’s pretty incredible how many of those tracks are now hits. He only performed three songs off “Album of the Year (so far)” To Pimp A Butterfly, and closing track “Alright” was the best thing I heard all weekend.

MDDG: Hey Wilco…show your hits!

MH: They played Star Wars from start to finish, which would have been a lot cooler if they came out to something, ANYTHING, by John Williams.

Wilco at the Land's End Stage on Friday afternoon
Wilco at the Land’s End Stage on Friday afternoon

MDDG: St Vincent and that little Japanese lady with their little Japanese steps. Artsy fartsy but enjoyable.

MMDG: Toko Yasuda! So pissed that I missed that. Good cell reception my ass. It was cool seeing another third of Enon onstage with Caribou. A surprise reunion show would’ve made my festival.

MH: Annie Clark’s getup was quite something. She kills it though.

MMDG: Toro y Moi was underwhelming. Tame Impala was much better than I’d anticipated. They were probably the show highlight for me.

MH: I was really hoping Tame Impala would play a few more songs from Currents, but they covered most of the ones I wanted to here. Really surprised they didn’t play “Cause I’m A Man”. However, this being the third time I’ve seen them live, they’ve closed with “Apocalypse Dreams” each time, and it is still their best song live.  

The Grub

MMDG: I ate way too much crappy food.

Clam chowder in a bread bowl from Woodhouse Fish Co.
Clam chowder in a bread bowl from Woodhouse Fish Co.

MH: Food and drink was surprisingly very easy to obtain which was awesome, especially for a festival which flaunts its offerings so heavily. Bathrooms, not so much.

MMDG: That sour beer from Anderson Valley – the one with the funny name – was really good. Something about the Holy Gose. It was actually the only Beer Lands beer that I tried. Every other beer stop was Heineken or Sierra Nevada. Whatever was readily available. I drank way too much beer.

MMJ and the 25-minute funnel cake from Endless Summer Sweets. Worth it.
MMJ and the 25-minute funnel cake from Endless Summer Sweets. Worth it.

MDDG: I drank the perfect amount. Never waited longer than 3 minutes for a drink or bite – very impressive by OSL folks.

MMDG: Big fan of the alambre huaraches and Woodhouse clam chowder (only thing I ordered multiple times). Big mistake with the hot link corndog and the Malaysian nachos.

MH: Someone handed me and my friend an entire, un-eaten Del Popolo pizza at Classixx. If you don’t consider free pizza a highlight of your day, GTFO.  

MMDG: The funnel cake line was ridiculous, all festival long. But MMJ had her heart set on one, and even though we waited until the last minute (right before Elton) and had to queue up for twenty-five minutes, funnel cake achieved.

MMDG: I spent way too much money.