Seasoned Outside Lands warriors know that festival life means juggling a million things at once, from winter gear to shield yourself from the bitter cold, to cameras, phones, earplugs, blankets, band-aids for blisters...not to mention finding a way to fit ever-imperative food and drinks into the mix. And if you take a quick gander at this year's Taste of the Bay Area lineup (now boasting nineteen newcomers!), eating and sipping will rocket to the top of your Outside Lands to-do list. Here's what we'd pair with our favorite musical acts.
Hall & Oates and Cheeselands
I'm not dissing Hall & Oates as merely a cheesy act; I've been performing their songs at karaoke nights since I was 18, so they are quite near and dear to my heart. It only takes a few listens to their old-school, soul-inflected 80s pop to figure out what genius songwriters they really are. Hall & Oates' lyrics ooze heartbreak and lovelorn confusion, and come wrapped in abnormally catchy melodies that make your head bop and your fingers snap. They're loveable because they're supremely uncool, and don't give a damn. So does the cheese at Cheeselands, which is new this year and features a selection of local cheeses by Long Meadow Ranch and Culture Magazine’s Thalassa Skinner. Cheese doesn't care if you think it's smelly, tastes weird, or if you prefer Kraft singles to Bleu d´Auvergne–just like Hall & Oates will keep doing what they do, even if you think King Tuff is cooler.
[UPDATE: D'Angelo has canceled, and we're devastated]
D'Angelo and Living Greens Juice
Remember when D'Angelo looked like this? Although that was thirteen years ago, his glistening torso still serves as thinspiration for countless waves of music lovers, because, let's face it: Everyone wants a body that hard, whether you're a man or a woman. And if you're ultra tempted by all the opportunities for unbridled gluttony at Outside Lands (Bacon Bacon and 4505 Meats cheeseburgers, we're looking at you), make a beeline to the Living Greens Juice stand for their nourishing fresh juices, cold coconut water, and hot detox teas and toast in rememberance the bygone days of D'Angelo's Adonis abs (and obviously enjoy the rare chance to see this soul master onstage).
Willie Nelson and Southpaw BBQ
Stone cold Texas legend Willie Nelson graces our city this year, and what better way to pay homage to his mellow, country cool that a massive plate full of Southern cooking? Enter Mission Street's Southpaw BBQ, who'll load you up with pulled pork sandwiches with vinegary coleslaw, smoked brisket sandwich with braised collard greens and smoked aioli, and their signature sweet tea. And we don't really need to remind you of how happy you'll be to have this quality grub in front of you once you get a contact high from all the weed being smoked during his set.
Paul's been an outspoken vegetarian (along with his former wife Linda, RIP), and you better believe he'll want you to nosh on meatless goodies while in his presence. On that tip, we recommend Azalina's delectable, genre-busting Malaysian nachos (which are actually vegan, though you'd never know it just from the taste). You'll get tortilla chips topped with savory braised tofu in peanut sauce, spicy pickled vegetables, cilantro, and instead of salsa, there's strawberry puree, and coconut jam (which takes the place of nacho cheese). If you need something with a little more heft, grab a fried plantain burrito from Little Chihuahua–it's seriously one of the best veggie burritos in town, and you might need it to fuel the fire during Paul's almost three-hour set.
The National and Charles Chocolates' Hot Chocolate
Ever cried during a show and didn't want anyone to notice? We've all been there. Famously mopey (and brilliant) Ohioans The National are set to take the stage on Friday night, and won't hold anything back. And I mean, really, once you hear singer Matt Berninger's molasses-smooth baritone, coupled with way-too-true-to-real-life lyrics, how can you not feel things? Head to newly resurrected Charles Chocolates for a cup of their artfully made, gourmet hot chocolate to both warm your paws against the cold, and catch your tears.
Anuhea and Pacific Catch's Hawaiian Poke
Okay, I'm from Hawaii, so I had to include homegirl Anuhea on here. She's currently Hawaii's top-selling female artist, thanks to her smooth blend of acoustic soul and sass. Her set at 1 pm on Friday is the perfect way to ease yourself into the long day of live music you have ahead of you. And naturally, you'll want to accompany her chilled out performance with a helping of Pacific Catch's city-famous, fresh Hawaiian poke, which combines the bold sauces and spices of Asia, Latin America, and Hawaii with local California ingredients. Yum!