Outside Lands, 2012 | 8/10/12 – 8/12/12
The fifth installment of Outside Lands Music Fest, once again was held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and it proved to be the biggest and best yet. Through three great days of music, comedy, gourmet food, beer and wine, their wasn’t an ear displease or a palate that wasn’t quenched.
Friday’s stellar lineup included a rousing set from Beck who showed the versatility of the veteran that he has become and a high octane set the Foo Fighters that found front man, Dave Grohl, sprinting through the crowd to play from the soundboard.
On high above the rest though was definitely Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Opening the electric set with new material that included a long, grungy version of “Walk Like a Giant,” Neil would eventually provide the audience with the stripped down performance of “The Needle and The Damage Done.” Crazy Horse later rejoined their front man to put the nail in the coffin with classics like “Cinnamon Girl” interspersed with material that one can only surmise will be featured on the band’s forthcoming album.
Saturday brought an extra special guest in hometown hero, Bob Weir, who joined songstress Norah Jones for a performance of The Grateful Dead’s “Must Have Been The Roses” for some oh so sweet harmony.
The Alabama Shakes packed The Sutro Stage and leader Brittany Howard served up a soulful helping southern goodness that proved that she and her boys are here to stay. Opening with a captivating and bluesy version of the band’s present catalogue crown jewel, “Hold On,” Howard’s voice whisking the crowd away. At one point, the singer commented on the size of the crowd, humbly stating “There’s a lot of you here.”Indeed there were. In fact, the band that less than a year ago were just gathering YouTube footing had easily drawn the biggest gathering that any “smaller stage” outfit would see throughout the weekend.
In their attempt to remain atop the gods of heavy metal chart, Metallica‘s set came complete with the loudness that one would expect coupled with a pyrotechnic/ laser show that could be both seen and heard a mile away at the Twin Peaks stage during Sigor Ros‘ dreamlike set. Mission accomplished.
Sunday did not disappoint. Trampled by Turtles played a set that would have made Graham Parsons proud, Fun warmed up the crowd at The Lands End stage with a bubbly set and Franz Ferdinand played an upbeat set that included a bit of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Fine.”
Regina Spektor took the stage for a set that yielded her standard setlist of beautifully sung cutesy narratives that satirize seriousness. The Russian born caroler had the audience in the palm of dainty hand as she reeled through a series of tunes that put her Steinway piano to fervent use and her crystalline voice out front. Jack White had been a true sport throughout the closing day, having played a surprise set n the woods with his all-female band earlier in the day. Not surprisingly, the White Stripe played a strong set, ending with one of his most well known and beloved gems, “Seven Nation Army,” from 2003′s Elephant.
Stevie Wonder closed the festival with a set of nonstop hits that drove the fully engaged throng wild. Starting things off with “Master Blaster” and (seamlessly) “Higher Ground,” the hits just kept coming. There was something truly magical about being in Stevie’s presence. He was funny, loving and compassionate. The best part is that his breathtaking talent remains as intact as it has ever been, whether as child prodigy in “Fingertips — pt. 2” days or those when he just called to say he loved you (or any other of his dozen number one songs). In short, Wonder’s set was the perfect way to close out three perfect days of music in the Bay City.
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