Exit Music For A Festival: Outside Lands 2016

August 11, 2016 -

Louis Garcia

There’s something about San Francisco and Outside Lands that brings out a huge smile every time I make my return to the bay. Upon crossing the Oakland Bay Bridge I was immediately greeted with a wave of chills that would forecast the vibe of what would soon be my second time attending the magical world of Outside Lands.

Similar to Coachella, most attendees participate in this lively music festival because of its eclectic musical lineup, yet many discover other reasons to return to Outside Lands beyond the music. Golden Gate Park laid out possibly the most beautiful festival scenery we’ve yet to experience. The layers of surrounding trees created an unreal backdrop around the dense stages, art, and activities provided by the festival. This all combined with low temperatures to create an extremely comfortable environment that is incomparable to the majority of music festivals in SoCal. All of this is what made me love the festival last year but for some reason walking in this year felt like it was my first time all over again.

Cover photo by Josh Sanseri


We knew this was going to be a weekend full of indie and alternative rock music, but we couldn’t help getting wrecked in the Heineken House. This dome shaped structure offered a bar and a bumping dance floor full of the techiest of house music, at this time the 219 Boys were slaying. It wasn’t long until we decided to switch it up by visiting some of the other stages, right off the bat the Michigan based funk group Vulfpeck pulled an enormous crowd onto the Panhandle stage for a set full of vintage jams that could have easily fit the soundtrack to Napolean Dynamite.


Jorg Photo

Our day continued with the hard dance-rock outfit Foals, indie electronic trio Miike Snow, UK house artist Redlight, and the Canadian pop experimentalist Grimes. At this point I was thriving with all of the eclectic music but it wasn’t until we hit the mainstage for LCD Soundsystem that our night truly peaked.


I fell in a deep obsession for this group upon their epic breakup in 2010. After many long nights of crying myself to sleep with deep regret for my benign decision to miss out on their final tour, news of their reunion came and I knew that I had to witness it with my own eyes. It was difficult for me to accept the fact that they were back but once the group hit the stage along with ringleader James Murphy I immediately melted with excitement. Their performance was nothing short of magical. The heavy disco baselines and punk-inspired vocal meandering, not to mention the analog synth driven grooves; this performance was everything I could have expected and more.



Day two of Outside Lands had one purpose and one purpose only: Radiohead. What better way to kick this exciting day off then back at the Heineken House for Motion Potion’s Radiohead Remix set. Indeed, it was exactly what it sounds like: a bangin’ dance party celebrating the span of Radiohead’s career. All hardcore Radiohead fans were stoked on this performance.

Later in the day we caught a surprise performance from Jauz at his Shark Bites show at the Gastro Magic cooking stage. What we assumed would be Jauz cooking ended up being Jauz throwing down an intimate set alongside a few bartenders mixing up drinks inspired by the bass house performance. From there Vince Staples reminded us about Summertime ’06 with his heavy hitting hip hop show, which also included his latest track with Flume.

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Kryptt Photography

Finally it was time to setup camp to what we would consider our home for the rest of the day. This was the main stage and we knew that it would soon become crowded with fans waiting for Radiohead. We outsmarted the bunch and arrived three hours beforehand, luckily Big Grams was set to perform at this time. Outkast’s Big Boi and electronic art-rock duo Phantogram put on a great show full of tracks from their collaborative EP as well as mashups of Phantogram tracks and classic Outkast tracks. This was all followed by the French duo Air who put on a dreamy Euro-psych set that drifted the gloomy sky into 45 minutes of lullabies.

Finally it was time.


At this point in their 20+ year career we have come to realize that they will perhaps never satisfy the on-going demand of their presence at any venue or festival. To put it simply: trying to cop tickets for these guys is damn near impossible therefore we had to bask in every moment of their stage presence.


Whether you were a moody high schooler in the 90’s or you were part of the late Radiohead fever, such as myself, with KROQ’s praise of records such as In Rainbows in the late 2000’s, there is no denying the powerful memories that this band has in everyone’s life here at Outside Lands. Their impact on the tens of thousands of people that showed up for their performance was visible by the amount of respect given to them upon approaching the stage.

Radiohead almost always perform at nighttime considering their headliner status, so seeing them during a sunset was definitely something out of the ordinary. They began with three tracks off of their latest record, A Moon Shaped Pool, that felt like complete tension builders for those in the audience. Once they had us nice and built up the wave of excitement finally exploded as they dove headfirst into 2+2=5, the first track off of 2003’s Hail To The Thief. At the peak of this track the audience could not help but jump around in excitement. This opened the flood gates to tracks from their classic albums OK Computer, Kid A, and of course In Rainbows. The band paid homage to their hardcore fans and newer ones by performing the most popular tracks from their records as well as the deeper cuts. Overall we gotta give it to the boys for putting on one of the most experimentally entertaining performances from any band we had seen this weekend, and possibly in our lifetime.


Our final day at Outside Lands was spent enjoying the festival grounds. We roamed through the land for a final time catching a few acts but appreciating how amazing of a beer selection they offered at Beer Lands as well as the tasty chocolate treats throughout the Choco Lands forest trail. Nonetheless we helped ourselves to the last bit of house music with local g-house act Grensta, followed by UK duo Snakehips. Snakehips pulled out a massive audience and even though it felt huge it was not even close to the ocean of people who lined up to catch Chance The Rapper later in the day. Now that the sun awoke from the cloudy gloom it finally felt like the type of music festival that we were used to: hot, sunny, and sweaty. We left the festival following a packed set from Rufus Du Sol and Major Lazer.


Jorg Photo

Outside Lands stuck out as one of the best music festivals of this Summer, mainly because it didn’t feel like Summer. The event does a good job at welcoming tourists by hosting a very local inspired festival. From the stages that represent different parks in the city to the food that showcased only the best from local eateries, Outside Lands made us feel welcome to this peculiar city and you can bet that we’ll be venturing back up come next Summer.

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