Outside Lands Offers a Little of Everything

Three days of music, food and madness come to an end

Dorksandlosers on Flickr

This year's Outside Lands Festival proved once again that San Francisco really knows how to throw a user friendly arts and music party.

You could watch a big band of clowns, purchase a hand painted light bulb and see Pearl Jam all in the same day. The crowds were much smaller than last year, which was probably due to a combination of the economy and the weather.

Three day attendees had a choice between scorching or freezing weather depending on what day it was. Between Saturday and Sunday alone there was a nearly thirty degree temperature variation where you could go from wearing next to nothing one day to being bundled up in all your winter clothes the following day.

The event provided a wonderful combination of local musicians and artists performing alongside big name international stars. While Black Eyed Peas and the Dave Matthews Band packed them in on the main stages, other people strolled a seemingly endless array of vendor booths and art tents.

The Apocalypse Puppet Theater presented beautifully surreal shows in front of stands offering cuisines of such staggering ethnic variety that it was nearly schizophrenia inducing.

Though the crowd spanned all age groups, the largest percentage was 25 to 35-years-old. There were pitching booths, gourmet foods, and a wine tasting tent. Jack White played drums with his band The Dead Weather while Jack Black played guitar with his band Tenacious D.

Some of my favorite acts performed in The Barbary, a tent designed to look like a Gold Rush era bar. Comedians, clown bands, and Kitten on the Keys all tore up the stage. Reggie Watts gave a performance there that was not only an amazing display of hip-hop musical skills but a hilarious stand-up comedy routine as well.

Sunday was foggy all day but the chill didn't really set in until the late afternoon. My favorite band of the festival was Ween. Suffice to say, as usual, they were phenomenal.

There was no shortage of talent on hand though. Atmosphere did a tight set of traditional hip-hop and rap. Modest Mouse drove the kids wild while the Heartless Bastards ripped up the stage.

A garishly clad M.I.A. played one of the few shows she's done since giving birth last winter. One of my favorite scenes of the afternoon was watching a man in full Chewbacca costume dancing with a woman dressed as a baboon.

At one point, a hippie walked past me with a glass bong in each hand and said, "I'll pack 'em." With what, your third hand? With almost a hundred bands to choose from there was no way to see everything you wanted or even take it all in. It was sensory overload on a grand scale.

Sunday's original headliners the Beastie Boys were forced to cancel at the last minute due to Adam "MCA" Yauch's sudden cancer diagnosis.

So Tenacious D stepped in and ended the weekend with Jack Black's comedic lyrics and their twin acoustic guitar wall of sound. The five piece band bridged the worlds of folk, comedy, rock, pop, and hip-hop, often all in the same song. It was a set rife with Spinal Tap moments. It was theatrical and silly, a nice soft landing for a long weekend of music.

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