The third annual Outside Lands, held in the Polo Field and Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, featured an extremely slimmed down lineup than the previous years. Without the big names from 2008 and 2009, the festival was much smaller, and many people in the community were disappointed with the “biggest” headliner, Kings of Leon. I read an article in SF Weekly prior to the event that began, “Kings of Leon…really?” However, Saturday was worth the price of the ticket just for an opportunity to see Phil Lesh and Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead play in Golden Gate Park with their new band Furthur.
For me, the day began at 2 pm with Pretty Lights, a DJ from Colorado. He has a unique sound that can’t really be classified with the usual genre terms. It’s along the lines of electronic dance music, with a heavy hip hop influence, focused on heavy, glitchy beats. Usually Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights is accompanied by a drummer while playing live, but for some reason he played solo on Saturday. No worries. It was still a virtually perfect set, which soon grew a large crowd who slowly drifted towards the compelling beats emanating from the sound system. If you want to check out his music, he has all of his albums up for free download on his website, http://prettylightsmusic.com/.
Up next for us was Bassnectar. He started off strong—too strong, perhaps, because within fifteen minutes the power cut out. He came on stage with a megaphone and apologized, saying he had had a feeling that morning that it would happen to him, and he had wondered what he would say if it happened. However, all was good, because within ten minutes the power came back on, and Bassnectar wrapped up his time (plus ten extra minutes) with the most unique set I’ve seen him play. He mixed his newer, brain-eating bass head electro with some of his older, more ambient downtempo experimental trip-hop for a truly great set that proves why he is one of the greatest DJ’s to come out of the San Francisco area.
After a break to get some beer and food, and one of the more frigid sunsets I’ve experienced in the city, it was time for Furthur, which was really the whole point of the day. Part of the original Grateful Dead right in Golden Gate Park. Besides all the hipsters, it was almost like being back in the 70’s (the festival, overall, was pretty much half hipsters, and half hippies). The key word being almost. In their two hour performance they played many classic songs that had the entire crowd singing along, but none of their biggest hits like “St. Stephen,” “Cosmic Charlie” or “Truckin.’” The set was my first Dead experience, and only succeeded in whetting my appetite for more. But I think Furthur is here to stay, so we can catch them on their future tours and pretend to not have been born in the 80’s.