This past weekend once again brought the Outside Lands Music Festival to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, a festival now celebrating seven years of existence and a now proud tradition of multiple years of sell-out crowds. I’m fortunate enough to say that I’ve attended every single incarnation of this wonderful festival, and this weekend seemed to bring no real surprises except for the fact that the sun stayed out late into the afternoon on a few days making for a few beautiful evenings in the park not totally freezing our butts off (which was nice). The rest of the festival was no surprise whatsoever: top notch music, great atmosphere, awesome beers, great food, and plenty of trouble to be had with plenty of time to get home before the late-nights began. If my only complaint about the festival is that they need to ditch the purified water sponsor and just focus on helping people fill up their water more quickly, I think it’s fair to say that they’re killing it overall.

With myself roaming the grounds and with Justin Yee snapping photos in the pit as he navigated the weekend according to his own musical tastes, here’s our list of all the cool things we saw or heard this weekend broken up by day.

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DAY ONE @ Outside Lands 2014

Heard The Soul Rebels playing “Talking In Your Sleep” by the Romantics

It’s pretty clear these guys know how to keep a festival crowd happy, and they were dropping New Orleans brass-tinged covers here and there while me and my crew arrived to the festival and got a lay of the land. Fun set to start the day with; definitely didn’t expect that cover, and my buddy couldn’t even musically place it at first which puts in the marginally obscure category. Kudos to them for that.

Saw the Greensky Bluegrass set from the front row

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Arriving early at a music festival this size has some very tangible benefits, like getting to see that band you missed at the last music festival you were at from the front row. Greensky was playing to the Sutro stage audience which was slowly trickling their way in as they were playing, so they had to work extra hard to get people moving and they delivered a strong set all around. They also announced that they’re coming back for a two-night run at the Fillmore in November.

Watched Run the Jewels ‘run the trap’ on the main stage

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There’s something about a strong hip hop set and serious trap beats coming out of a festival PA that can really get a crowd moving like this, and this set had me clued in that everyone was ready to rage yesterday. This was my first time seeing Killer Mike and EL-P and they were definitely an interesting set. Their stage set up was an minimal as you could get, but they made up for it with big sound and a crushing energy.

Caught Bleachers enjoying their set quite a bit

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Saw Phosphorescent wore his own band t-shirt to his own set

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Holy Ghost! hits every note on their album to a T

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I first caught Holy Ghost! at last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival and this set was a nice continuation of that fun; I connected with friends of friends and got a nice dance circle going as the crowd filled in more heavily. “Dumb Disco Ideas” was absolute fire and came out early in the show, which was definitely my highlight. “Do It Again” was a close second. And they hit every note live that they recorded on the album, often an impressive feat if you ask me.

Chromeo made everyone scream!

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There wasn’t much room to move once everyone filed into the crowd for the Chromeo set, and once these guys kicked their drum machine into gear it was pretty clear why they were such a strong draw. Playing hits like “Night by Night”, “Hot Mess”, and “Bonafied Lovin'” was such an easy win with this crowd, and the theatrics like the talkbox solos and making all the ladies get on their man’s shoulders made the whole thing a fun event.

Disclosure was amazing as always

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They also had some die-hard fans

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Heard Derek Trucks serenade the Sutro Stage pre-Kanye

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Chosen basically as juxtaposition and the obvious choice among my jamband-loving friends, we opted for Tedeschi Trucks Band instead of Disclosure (I’ll see them again soon) which gave a nice relaxing end to the daylight hours and gave us some time to recharge before the Kanye set. Musically Derek Trucks was just flooring. Whenever his guitar really spoke up, everyone just got quiet and took it in. It was chill.

Kanye actually played a Kanye set

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Kanye’s set had what we expected — some tracks from Yeesus — but thankfully he was sprinkling in some old hits like “Power” or “All of the Lights” which kept the crowd happy seeing him up there. Rants were few and far between and he delivered a full 100 minutes like the schedule called for.

He also played his encore in the middle of his set

While he wasn’t much for ranting, he did seem to have a strange need to see us organize in circles and he was really psyched to play “Blood on the Leaves”, so much so that he announced he’d be playing it to end the show but he also wanted to play it now. He even restarted it once the circles weren’t big enough for his liking.

Obviously he played Yeesus stuff, too (“Uh huh, honnnnneeeeeeey”)

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He opened the show with “Black Skinhead” and sprinkled in “New Slaves” in the middle, and then he ended his set with “Bound 2” — the balls on this guy, seriously — not to mention playing “Blood On The Leaves” twice.

There’s a giant Ranger Dave now

Usually the role of Ranger Dave was filled by a San Francisco local who dressed in a costume and roamed the grounds taking photos with eager fans, but this year they installed a monster Ranger Dave to greet people as they enter the park. You could even sit on his hand to get a photo taken. Me first!


Continue on for photos and a recap from Outside Lands 2014 day two…