Outside Lands Festival 2013
Show: Outside Lands Festival 2014
Date: August 8-10, 2014
Venue: Golden Gate Park
City: San Francisco, CA

Outside Lands Festival 2014
Photos by Nicolas Bates
Written by Dan Sinclair

outside lands crowd 1

That’s right, kids, it’s summertime again. And that means only one thing—music festivals! And while many may choose to dehydrate and burn to a crisp out in the desert for Coachella, RUKUS Magazine instead treks up north a few hours to the wonderful city of San Francisco for Outside Lands! And what’s not to love about three days of nonstop music on multiple stages in the picturesque Golden Gate Park? Oh, and that’s not even it. There’s a tent where Lewis Black and Aisha Tyler are doing the comedy thing. Then there’s all the reasons in the world to massage your taste buds and fill your belly with Beer Lands, Wine Lands, Cheese Lands and Choco Lands—not to mention all the other food trucks and stands featuring the best food in the Bay Area. There’s beautiful (if not slightly crazy) people all over the place singing, dancing and/or passing out. There’s even Porta Potties, and who doesn’t love a good Porta Potty, huh?

Outside Lands 2014 was quite the success on many levels. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Just go ask the estimated 200,000-plus music lovers that stopped by over the weekend. No. On second thought, don’t ask them. DO take my word for it. Actually take all my words for it. Here they come now…

Kanye West

ARTIST: Kanye West
WEB SITE: http://www.kanyewest.com/
DATE: Friday August 8, 2014

As thousands gather around the Lands End stage for Mr. Kanye West, one thing is very clear to the writer: there are a lot of fucking people here at Outside Lands this year! Seriously. The crowd stands shoulder-to-shoulder from as close to the stage as security will allow all the way back to the food booths, which are a good football field’s length away. And that’s with Artic Monkeys playing at the other end of the festival at the same time. Looks like double the people than were here last year. But then again, I’m a writer so I don’t do maths.

Yeezus himself comes out alone to kick off the show with “Black Skinhead.” Simultaneously a drunk dude shoves his way through the crowd with a big smile on his face because being an asshole is hilarious. Everyone else bops their heads and raps along, “For my theme song, my leather black jeans on/My by any means on/Pardon I’m getting my scream on.” Even the fat guy wearing a suit jacket with no shirt knows the words, his bulbous gut shaking in time to the steady beat. Next the crowd does the Ric Flair “Woo!” on “I Don’t Like.”

The usually talkative Kanye seems extra dedicated to his craft this evening, barely saying a word at all in between songs through “Mercy” and “Cold.” But he makes sure everyone chants “Clique, clique, clique” for the next song as joints are getting passed by me left and right. And the songs just keep coming as Kanye tells us he has to “Get my money right” on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Then it’s “New Slaves,” which, of course, has my favorite line, “There’s leaders and there’s followers, but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.”

After the crowd-pleasing “Power,” Kanye teases us with a little bit of “Blood on the Leaves.” He explains it’s actually the song he’s closing with but wants everyone to practice forming circles. He’s not super clear on it, but he wants everyone to mosh when the song kicks in. He tries it a couple times, and then goes, “All right, stop that shit!” And promises it will be back at the end of the show.

Not sure how they felt about the circles, but the crowd definitely got back into the swing of things when “Stronger” came on next. Then Kanye slows it down to play “Runaway” and actually is pretty funny as he just goes on and on, rambling with autotuned vocals. Then he does a little bit of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and asks all how they could be so “Heartless,” before getting to the song featuring one of the best beats of all time in “Jesus Walks.” Outside Lands goes nuts. Think what you want about Kanye West away from the music, but doing this kick-ass one-man show, he proves for once and all he is a certifiable rock star.

Yeezus finishes off the night with “All Falls Down,” “Touch the Sky,” “All of the Lights,” “Good Life” and “Bound 2” before finally getting to the aforementioned “Blood on the Leaves.” Not a bad way to start the weekend, Mr. West. Not bad at all, sir.

Capital Cities

ARTIST: Capital Cities
WEB SITE: capitalcitiesmusic.com
DATE: August 9, 2014

Capital Cities makes RUKUS history for being the very first band I’ve covered at the Twin Peaks stage. And there’s a very nice-sized crowd in front of said stage for the pop duo out of Los Angeles. The band was founded by the former jingle-writing partners Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who apparently met on Craigslist. But today here in Golden Gate Park they are joined by their touring mates—namely Manny Quintero on bass, Spencer Ludwig on trumpet, Nick Merwin on guitar and drummer Channing Holmes. All members of the band are decked out in their matching Capital Cities jackets, making them appear to be somewhere between a ‘50s gang with instruments or a really hip bowling team.

And Ludwig’s kick-ass trumpet is on full display right from the start with the ultra-catchy “Kangaroo Court.” And maybe that’s what separates Capital Cities from the other poppy electronic acts: the fun horns blowing along with the beats. Ludwig steps to the front of the stage and does his thing as the crowd dances and sings, “Shut up, shut up, shut, up/Sit up, sit up, sit up/It’s a kangaroo court.” It’s everybody’s favorite Cities song not called “Safe and Sound,” and it’s a dance party on the grass in front of the Twin Peaks stage.

After thanking the fans for dancing along, the band goes right into “Origami” where Merchant and Simonian tease the crowd in the funkiest way possible that they, “Stole your diamonds and gold, what are you gonna do about it?” Just dance. That’s what they do about it. After that, Ludwig leads the way into “Chartreuse,” where we find out just how the guys like to be colored.

Merchant asks, “We want to dance. You want to dance with us?” Um, pretty sure they do since they’ve been dancing the whole time, sir. That’s when he explains that he wants to teach everyone the Capital Cities Shuffle if they don’t already know it. I didn’t know it and the best way I could describe it is synchronized clapping and spinning. Some of the more adventurous concert-goers attempt it among the crowded lawn during “Center Stage,” and “There’s a good time, there’s a good time.” And the end, the band is grateful. “Thanks for the dance, guys.”

Apparently “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is “a song about all the good things in life, like Nutella.” After that, Cities performs a cover combo for the ages combining the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and Weezer’s “The Sweater Song.” The dance party keeps going through “Love Away,” “I Sold My Bed, but Not My Stereo” and “One Minute More,” before Capital Cities closes with the one everyone was waiting for the whole set. Everyone sings along, “I can lift you up/I can show you what you want to see and take you where you want to be.” The horn sounds and everyone leaves feeling “Safe and Sound.”

Death Cab for Cutie

ARTIST: Death Cab for Cutie
WEB SITE: http://www.deathcabforcutie.com/
DATE: August 9, 2014

Because your favorite online magazine live music coverage writer loves you, he braved the thousands and thousands of people all walking in various directions to travel the length of the festival all the way from Twin Peaks to the main stage at Lands End just for YOU. No need to thank me. It’s just what I do. And why did I brave the masses this evening? No, it wasn’t just to get back to the nicer bathrooms by the media tent, it was also to cover your favorite band to ever come from Bellingham, Washington, Death Cab for Cutie.

Ben Gibbard and the boys take the stage without much ado and go right into the full instrumental lead-in for “I Will Possess Your Heart” off of the band’s chart-topping album Narrow Stairs. Sure, Death Cab for Cutie doesn’t lead the live music world in stage presence or showmanship, but playing your songs in the full entire way they were supposed to be heard always counts for something.

After the loyal fans cheers, Gibbard announces, “We’re Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle, Washington.” For the record, the distance between Bellingham (the place where Gibbard started the band back in 1997 with Chris Walla, Nick Harmer and Nathan Good at Western Washington University) and Seattle is about 89 miles… so I guess that’s close enough. They then play “Crooked Teeth” off of 2005’s Plans and then go all the way back to 2001’s The Photo Album with “We Laugh Indoors” (aka the one where Gibbard tells Guinevere he loved her over and over again).

Then it’s over to 2003’s Transatlanticism for the mellow lullaby “Title and Registration.” As I look around the crowd, I notice there isn’t much movement, which is odd here at the biggest stage at Outside Lands. But that’s just Death Cab’s sound. It’s certainly more soothing than rocking. Not much dancing or jumping around, just a bunch of fans satisfied to bop their heads and gently sing along to the songs they like.

Death Cab for Cutie’s last studio album was Codes and Keys back in 2011, and they finally get around to playing the first track of the night off of it in “Doors Unlocked and Open.” Then they go back to Narrow Doors for “Long Division” and “Grapevine Fires” back to back, before playing 2011’s title track “Codes and Keys.”

When the acoustic “I Will Follow You into the Dark” starts up, several guys put their arms around their gals as they both sway back and forth. Some dude says, “I forgot how many songs they had.” Well, sir, eight studio albums over almost seventeen years will do that.

And there’s even more songs than that. Next is “You Are a Tourist” and then “The New Year.” Then Death Cab for Cutie finishes the set strongly with the two best songs of the night in “Cath…” and, of course, “Soul Meets Body.” Gibbard thanks everyone and the band leaves, but look for them to come back soon with a new album!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

ARTIST: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
WEB SITE: http://www.tompetty.com/
DATE: August 9, 2014

Loyal RUKUS readers remember that Tom Petty and those guys that break hearts played an up-close-and-personal thing at the Fonda, where they explored their entire catalogue. While it was one an important show in this writer’s rock and roll history, the one complaint from him was that Tom and the boys didn’t play many of the hits. Well, this time they did.

The set kicked off with a cover of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n Roll Star,” but then it’s time for “Last Dance with Mary Jane.” The crowd comes alive, much more active than an hour before for Death Cab for Cutie’s set. Tom plays the harmonica and kills it on guitar alongside the great Mike Campbell.

“Oh, baby, we’re in San Francisco in the park!” The crowd erupts as we all love to be reminded where we are. “We’re gonna have a good time tonight.” The crowd cheers again because they know they are. The new album is called Hypnotic Eye and the band plays the lead track from it “American Dream Plan B” next. Then Tom plays a song that needs no introduction, leading us all “Into the Great Wide Open.” It’s a very mellow version of the song and it sounds fucking awesome. The new song “Forgotten Man” follows that.

Then things get magical. “I Won’t Back Down” has always been my favorite Petty song. It’s one I’ve often referred to as my theme song. “Free Fallin’” was my younger brother Mike’s. He sang it all the time. Tom did us both a favor, playing them back to back for what quite possibly was this writer’s greatest and most emotional concert-going experience in his life. Miss you, Mikey.

Next up, the band travels back to 1985 for “Spike” off of Southern Accent. After that, Tom asks, “How about these Heartbreakers?” He gives props to his longtime back before it’s Traveling Wilburys time and we get to hear “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.”

Then Tom asks, “Are you having fun out there?” I’m gonna assume the loud screams in response were not meant to represent the word “no.” “U Get Me High” and “Rebels” are next before The Heartbreakers pay tribute to the Bay Area’s own Grateful Dead with a cover of “Friend of the Devil.”

People are screaming and dancing and jumping around. It’s a fucking party late night here in Golden Gate Park and the songs just keep coming and Tom Petty keeps rocking. “Learning to Fly,” “Shadow People,” “I Should Have Known It.” The fans don’t want it to, but the set comes to an end anyway with “Refugee” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

No one moves when the band leave the stage, they keep cheering and screaming right until they come back and rock out an encore with “You Wreck Me” and, of course, “American Girl.” When the night ends, it’s clear that even though they may have been older than many of the acts here at Outside Lands, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just played the best set of the weekend.

The Bots

ARTIST: The Bots
WEB SITE: www.thebotsband.com
DATE: August 10, 2014

If you don’t know The Bots, know that brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei recorded their first album at ages 15 and 12 respectively, and that was only about five years ago, so both are still pretty young. But that hasn’t stopped the duo from self-producing more albums and touring the fucking world! Their new album Pink Palms drops in October and this writer can’t wait.

Mikaiah comes out strapped with his guitar, while younger brother Anaiah takes his place behind the drums. Mikaiah, obviously Pink Palms-excited, is decked out in all pink with a full jumpsuit and matching Chucks on his feet. He also adorned a headdress similar to a keffiyeh. Anaiah’s wardrobe is more chill: shorts and T-shirt. He’s also the quiet one. He won’t say a word to us the entire show. Talking is his older brother’s job. “We’re from California. We’re gonna play some tunes for you. Hopefully, you’ll dig it.”

It’s a small crowd here at the Panhandle stage as the first live act of the day gets started. They are the lucky ones. Those not present are the ones that missed out. During the first song, Makaiah apologized that they were having “Some technical difficulties,” but no one seemed to mind as the brothers rocked out in that energetic noisy-garagey-punky-rock-n-rolly way that they do. Some girl even yelled out, “I love you, Makaiah!” To which The Bots frontman replied, “Thank you. All right, let me fix this real quick.” Yes, no time for love until the levels are right and these fans get the best Bots they can.

After that, things get louder with the song “Won.” It shifts from heavy to slow and funky and then fucking loud again and the small crowd sounds louder than they are in appreciation. Makaiah is all over the place swinging his guitar around, banging his head, screaming and singing into his mic, but it’s funny to hear his even-toned calming voice when he speaks (pretty chill for such a crazy punk rocker). Anaiah, on the other hand, is just the constant professional banging away without much ado.

Some of the set’s highlights were the groovy, tonal-shifting “Dinosaurs,” the trippy, chill, then rocking “Side Effects” and the bad-ass punk rockers “And All I Really Want” and “Plastic Jacket.”

Towards the end of the set Makaiah says, “Thanks for coming out and watching,” and removed the headdress from his head. The Bots close with the fantastic “5:17,” and the crowd really gets into it. They finish big, dragging out the end of the song over and over again, and it warms the heart to see the two brothers smile at each other as they play. It’s almost as if they’re back in their parents’ basement and not at one of the biggest festivals in the country. And that’s how you can tell these young bucks will go far: not only are they good at what they do…they also fucking love doing it.


WEB SITE: www.spoontheband.com
DATE: August 10, 2014

Did you know Austin, Texas’s Spoon is old enough to legally drink? No, not the individual members of Spoon, but the actual band itself. Yes, these lads have been making the ladies swoon with their catchy rock lullabies since 1993. Fast forward 21 years and we have Spoon taking the main stage at Outside Lands 2014 with lead singer Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, bassist Rob Pope and Eric Harvey and Alex Fischel on various guitars, percussions and keyboards.

Among various other reasons I’m sure, Spoon is also in town to promote their brand spanking new album They Want My Soul, and that’s where things get started with some bluesy guitar for “Knock Knock Knock,” which is apparently what Daniel hears every day… according to his own lyrics anyway. This is about the time I notice fans tossing beach balls around. Goddamn it. Let me just take this opportunity to say STOP IT. Nobody wants to worry about playing ball when they’re trying to enjoy their favorite bands playing live. Just fucking knock it off with the beach balls, dicks! Okay, back to the show.

Rocking his striped shirt and sunglasses, Daniel thanks the crowd before the bass intro for “Don’t You Evah” off of 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga… Sorry. I just like typing “Ga.” Drop a few of them off the end there to get the actual album name. The pace picks up on the peppier “Small Stakes,” the opening track from Kill the Moonlight way back in 2002. The crowd is grateful for the choice and begin to dance and…

Goddamn it! The beach balls are back again! Up on the large video screens on either side of the stage, they’re actually showing the crowd bouncing the stupid balls around instead of Spoon performing. Come on, Outside Lands! Get your shit together!

And what is Spoon doing? Well, Britt Daniel is shaking a maraca as the band plays “Who Makes Your Money.” Then it’s time for their song with the coolest name, “The Beast and Dragon, Adored.”

They remind the crowd that they just put out a new album and play the funky, rhythmic “Inside Out,” hailing from it. Then Daniel asks the crowd if they know any old songs. Much to their delight, the band goes right into “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb.”

All sing along, dancing on the lawn. All is right in the Spoon world. This continues through the set with “Rent I Pay,” “Outlier,” “I Turn My Camera On,” “Don’t Make Me a Target,” “I Summon You,” “The Underdog,” and “Got Nuffin” to close it all out. There is a small group clapping for an encore near the stage after Spoon leaves the stage, but they should know by now that’s only for the headliners. What I’d like to ask Spoon is if they have any knives. Why? So I could go pop all those goddamn beach balls.

The Flaming Lips

ARTIST: The Flaming Lips
WEB SITE: www.flaminglips.com
DATE: August 10, 2014

Some bands put a great effort into entertaining the crowd during a live performance… and then there’s The Flaming Lips. They’re in a fucking league of their own. Even before the show gets started, the stage looks overcrowded. Aside from the musical instruments and equipment, there is also a giant box full of what just look like snakes hanging from above the stage, which I will later come to learn are just all sorts of funky lights that will flash and shine and flicker throughout the evening. There are also sorts of machines that look like they shoot all sorts of shit out of them.

Frontman Wayne Coyne stands barefooted checking the mics wearing… uh, what the fuck is he wearing? A body suit painted to look like what Wayne would look like without skin? All muscle and tissue from the neck down for Mr. Coyne. Don’t worry. There’s a silver cod piece over the love muscle.

As things look like they’re going to get started, out walk a giant mushroom next to a giant rainbow. They set up right behind the set of mini grass hills on the stage. Coyne gets things started, “This is fucking cool! Festival in the park!” The crowd seems to think so, too, as they cheer for festivals in the park and the word “fuck.” Coyne continues, “Let it be said, Oklahoma City wouldn’t let us play when we first started out, but San Francisco was one of the first cities to ever let us play. I’m proud to be back!”

Things get started with “The Abandoned Hospital Ship” as people pop their heads out of the mini grass hills, waving to the crowd. It’s funny to watch the looks on the faces off the people wearing the funky costumes trying to look enthused the whole song. They continue to do so through “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1.” Coyne throws flowers.

The rainbow and mushroom leave, but The Lips are joined by the sun and two butterflies wearing crowns. Coyne shouts, “Oh, fuck! The sun is here!” He then hugs them all as the band plays “The Golden Path.” After that Mr. Sun and the butterflies leave and those lights I was talking about earlier start flashing from that rig above for “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate.” Then two aliens and a star come out to dance to “Race for the Prize.”

Coyne follows the aliens off stage, returning in a giant plastic bubble singing “Vein of Stars.” He then rolls his bubble out into the crowd all the way to the sound booth where he finishes the song. The band also plays “Look… the Sun Is Rising,” “Do You Realize?” and a cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Say what you will about The Flaming Lips, nobody puts more effort into making sure fans get a real show. Anyone know where I can get one of those giant bubbles by the way?

ARTIST: The Killers
WEB SITE: www.thekillersmusic.com
DATE: August 10, 2014

Outside Lands 2014 was a lot of fun, but all good things must come to an end because that was how some idiot designed life. Things could certainly end worse than The Killers though, and as the last show of the weekend, I look back and see that this is by far the biggest crowd for a single set. I guess it has to be as unlike the previous two nights, there’s no alternative on the other side of the park. This is it. This is the end. And fucking everyone is here.

Brandon Flowers comes out on stage alongside guitar man Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr., and the crowd goes nuts. They are ready for one more show.

The Killers kick it off with the hit single “Mr. Brightside,” and Outside Lands loses its shit. They’re going crazy in the crowd jumping up and down and singing along. Flowers assures them, “It was only a kiss, San Francisco!” Some asshole tosses his beer in the air, dousing me and everyone else nearby, encouraging me once again to start thinking about just when I’m heading back to the media tent.

Flowers takes off his leather jacket somewhere between the oh-oh-ohs and the light show for “Spaceman.” The spotlight goes on Vannucci ‘s drumming, donning a “Fuck Cancer” T-shirt for “The Way It Was.” Flowers says, “They call us The Killers by way of Las Vegas!” During “Smile Like You Mean It,” Flowers plays some keyboard and then asks the crowd to give it up for Keuning’s guitar skills. Yellow lights pour out deep into the massive crowd for “Bling.” Flowers moves around the stage, emphatically performing for his fans—he’s quite the showman. Oh, yeah, he’s from Vegas, duh. After “Human,” The Killers play another real crowd favorite in “Somebody Told Me.”

Flowers asks the crowd how they’re doing. “We love the Bay area. It’s given us so much: the Golden Gate Bridge, the 49ers, Uncle Jesse, Rice-A-Roni.” The Killers then cover CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” to honor the Bay area. Then they play “For Reasons Unknown,” “From Here on Out” and “A Dustland Fairytale,” before honoring the Bay area again with a cover of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”

Flowers and Keuning stand atop the amps together for “Read My Mind.” The Killers then play “Runaways,” before closing the set out with “All These Things That I’ve Done.” The crowd joins Flowers in singing “I’ve got a soul, but not I’m not a soldier” until the band leaves stage.

The thousands and thousands cheer until The Killers return for an encore of a rendition of “Shot at the Night” and the super funky bass of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and the last song of Outside Lands 2014, “When I Was Young.”

Flowers encourages all to “Tell all your friends!” And that’s why I’m telling you about it, friends.

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