By Rahim Ullah
New Clipper card, crash pad in the Mission District, plenty of cash and a pared-back camera kit…sounds like a recipe for success for another day prancing around Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands 2015. Let’s get to the music.
First up in the lineup was Heartwatch, a five-piece San Francisco band. Their song “Fireproof,” off of their Wind House EP, was stuck in my head all night. It made my time just that more enjoyable as I tried to sleep on the hardwood floor of my freshman roommate’s three-bedroom apartment that he is sharing with five other people.
Next, I headed over to the main stage for MisterWives, a six-person group from New York. They started off their set with the song “Our Own House,” off of their latest album of the same name.
After MisterWives it was to the Sutro stage for Langhorne Slim & The Law. Langhorne Slim is Langhorne Slim of course, and The Law is made up of Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, David Moore on the banjo and keyboard and Jeff Ratner on bass. Langhorne Slim, who was born Sean Scolnick in Langhorne, Penn., included plenty of showmanship in his performance, and made it a point to get to know his audience, jumping off of the stage and climbing up onto the barrier. It’s difficult to take pictures and remember what songs they played when, but I do remember that they played “Put it Together” off of their brand new album released that weekend “The Spirit Moves.” It’s pretty folky.
After the stint at the big stages it was time to go back to the Panhandle Stage to catch Fantastic Negrito, or so I thought. It turns out that Fantastic Negrito a.k.a Xavier Dphrepaulezz was arrested earlier that day and was unable to perform. Instead, a group of comedians got up on stage claiming that they were a Christian a cappella group. They were pretty funny and managed to hang onto Fantastic Negrito’s would-be crowd by rapping and singing about Jesus.
The Cold War Kids consists of multi-instrumentalists Nathan Willet, Dann Galluci, Matt Maust, Joe Plummer and Matthew Schwartz from Long Beach, Calif. They played their fairly standard set of popular hits — “Hang Me Up To Dry,” “First,” etc. Just check out their top five songs on your favorite music streaming service. You’re not missing much.
After The Cold War Kids’ lackluster performance, it was back to the Panhandle stage for WATERS. They had flower bouquets taped onto their mic stands and they all rocked out to songs off of their latest album “What’s Real.” WATERS will start touring with MisterWives this September.
If there’s one thing Billy Idol and his band have learned from 38 years of rocking out, it’s how to put on a show. Well into their fifties, Billy Idol and right-hand man Steven Stevens don’t look much different from when they did playing shows in the ’80s. They’re wearing tight leather, they’re showing off their moves, they’re reaching out to the audience. They’re not just playing their music — they’re performing it. And that’s a lot of what live music is about. The extra.
Following Billy Idol’s smashing performance on the main stage was Tame Impala. They sort of dropped the baton. They had technical difficulties. Microphones and keyboards didn’t work so lyrics didn’t come in when they were supposed to, so the band kept repeating the same motif. But then again, a lot of their songs sound like the music is stuck repeating itself anyway. When everything was fixed, they sounded exactly like they do on Spotify. They did, however, have an awesome display and light show.
After the first three songs of Tame Impala, I rushed over to the neighboring Sutro stage for Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. They had this weird rule where photographers couldn’t be in front of the center of the stage and could only shoot from stage right or stage left. If a photographer wanted to switch sides, they’d have to wait for the end of the song. Maybe Ben Harper doesn’t like the way he looks in photos straight-on.
Kendrick’s set began 10 minutes late. It didn’t matter; there were over 13,500 people who came to see him. It was a madhouse. If you were in the audience you weren’t just trying to enjoy the music or get a glimpse of Kendrick, you were trying to survive. The Kendrick fans in the photo pit said they’d bet money Kendrick would come out to “King Kunta” off his latest album “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Instead, he started off with a harsh and aggressive rendition of “Money Trees” off his album “good kid, m.A.A.d city.” There was more bass in Kendrick’s set than all of the previous sets at Outside Lands combined. It was an unhealthy earth-shattering, bone-breaking amount of bass. Thundering bass levels so high people in the audience climbed over the barrier to seek medical attention.
That’s all for now, folks. Outside Lands 2015 part three is coming soon, where I’ll be checking out the awesome bands that performed on Sunday.