The good, the bad, and the delicious at Outside Lands


Recovered yet? We're almost there. It was a frenzied, foggy, dusty and memorable weekend at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park. There were sonic high points that brought us to tears, and bathroom lines that did the same. Here are our favorite moments, a photo slideshow of awesome performances -- and the niggling things that got under our skin.


The powerful, still-relevant punch of a perfectly orchestrated Metallica performance; the band still slays in 2012. It was everything a show of that magnitude should be, with legendary metal sing-alongs, wailing guitars, James Hetfield's signature growl, bass solos, and fan favorites "Master of Puppets," "One," and "Blackened," along with a barrage of even more headbanging hits, pyrotechnics (shooting fireballs on cranes that actually seemed to warm the freezing crowd below), and timed lasers, colorfully slicing through the fog.

Whimsical Father John Misty's sexy, subdued tummy-revealing dance moves on the Panhandle Stage; also his opening song "Funtimes in Babylon" (which has him drawling "Look out Hollywood, here I come") along with the moment when the crowd thought that song had ended, so it applauded, and he replied "shut up!" and finished out the tune.

Neil Young switching to acoustic guitar to play heartbreaking classic "The Needle and the Damage Done," after 10 minutes of slow, harsh guitar-beating noise (as one fan eloquently put it, "masterbating with his guitar").

Following his comedy set, David Cross (in Tobias Funke facial hair, as he's thankfully currently back shooting the revived Arrested Development) and fiance/Joan of Arcadia actress Amber Tamblyn in a traditional festival floppy hat, taking in Neil Young together.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse playing  "Hey Hey, My My."  Specifically the line: "It's better to burn out than to fade away and stuttering the "f-f-f-f-f-fade" dramatically.

The spicy, peanut-sauced vegan Malaysian nachos with braised tofu and pickled vegetables from the Azalina's booth paired with a Hobo Wine Co. Pinot from Wine Lands, eaten cross-legged in the wet grass among thousand of hungry revelers.

The Nerdist (a.k.a Chris Hardwick) curated comedy lineup in the beautiful circular red Barbary tent, including gut-bustingly awesome comedienne-podcast host Michelle Buteau; in particular, Buteau's subtle knock on the white dude with dreads, and her impressions of her new Dutch husband.

Stevie Wonder, telling the crowd that he loved all his seven children – and all of their mothers – the same. Especially since one of his daughters was there as a backup singer.

The moment when it seemed like every red-blooded ticket-holder was there to see the great Alabama Shakes, filling in the the grassy bowl of the Sutro Stage more so than any other act on that stage. Pure mayhem.

Charming British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka (a one-time tour opener for Adele) answering fan questions in the All Access tent (full disclosure: SFBG's Caitlin Donohue hosted the interviews).

Pacific Brewing Laboratory's subtly fruity hibiscus saison at Beer Lands – a standout among a wide variety of unique Beer Lands offerings.

Ninja from Die Antwoord's bouncy pelvic thrusts – wearing nothing but Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon boxers – singing about "rubbing his dick" on "XP€N$IV $H1T." (The bass-thumping point basically being: screw fancy stuff.) Followed by tiny bleached firecracker Yo-Landi popping back out on stage in gold lame tights and a huge gold jacket to shake her ass singing that she's a "Rich Bitch."

Santigold thanking the bananas in goggles.

Portugal.The Man's reverberating rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine."

Sincere and personable singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten telling the crowd a heartfelt story about making mistakes and how they influenced her to write the next song, then supposedly messing up a guitar part during said song ("All I Can" with lyrics "we all mistakes"). But no one caring, because she was so endearing.

Chocolate Lands, with strawberry and apple skulls covered in chocolate hanging from the trees. And the moment when when the Inspector Gadje brass orchestra and red sequined cheerleaders performed among a thoroughfare crowd munching those sweet chocolatey treats sold below the skulls.

Jack White and Tom Morello performing seemingly impromptu concerts in that same wooded area.

Beck giving the antsy masses what they wanted early: "Devils Haircut" the second song in, followed immediately by "Loser." Letting those who overbooked start making their way to the next act. 

Andrew Bird's rotating phonograph-ish stage-craft (edit: we now know it was a Janus Horn) and his soaring whistle, cutting through the rolling fog.

The mathy, intricate instrumental bliss and swelling peaks, tension and release, of Explosions in the Sky on the main stage, as hippies slowly hula-hooped along.

All the offerings from San Francisco's Pica Pica Maize Kitchen: the gluten-free maize'wich, fried plantains, and crispy yuca fries  –  the best handheld foods for proper band-watching stance.

All the bands and comedians – every single one, regardless of age, gender, background, or genre distinctions  – commenting on the chilly San Francisco weather, seeing as how it's summertime, people! Not getting sunburned.


Crowds seemed epic this year, though there might not be any getting around that. The park felt stuffed, almost (but not quite) suffocating, with swarms of people funneling out every wooded orifice.

That girl whose wine we accidentally knocked over during Metallica's set; it's Metallica, put down the wine, or at least get over it and quit with the non-verbal shaming, Ms. Stink Eye.

So much corporate sponsorship, ads and booths for cell phones and cars and all kinds of technology one needn't think about during a music festival.

There just has got to be a way around the Porta-Potty, right? Isn't there a company out there that can make a more suitable moveable toilet, something with a smidge more dignity? That's corporate sponsorship we could um, get behind. 

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