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Outside Lands Review, Day 2: Survival of the Hippest Edition

The second day of Outside Lands was another exercise in perseverance, made easier by a wonderfully eclectic slate of music from around the world. Metallica, Sigur Ros, Passion Pit, Big Boi, Alabama Shakes and more highlighted the Day 2 action, and there were plenty more who helped festivalgoers fight another day of wintry conditions at the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park.

Tame Impala, 1:50, Lands End

Tame impala rewards the patient; psych-y, effect-packed jams start out slow and build in unexpected ways. The Beatles and Black Sabbath are the first comparisons that come to mind, but this Aussie outfit seems more out of time and place than a throwback to any specific era. In a word: groovy. 

Father John Misty, 2:55, Panhandle

Former Fleet Foxes bandmember J. Tillman’s latest project immediately makes me think of San Francisco’s John Vanderslice. His woe-is-the-world vocals and sauntering rhythms somehow put the mind at ease despite ominous conjurations, just like our famed resident singer-songwriter extraordinaire. It seems like part of the reason Tillman got out from behind his desk job as Fleet Foxes drummer is to shake his hips a bit and let the music possess the body. Dude’s got moves for days. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” was the revelation of the set. Jeeeeesus Christ, that’s a fine song.

Explosions in the Sky, 4:40, Lands End

After trying to see Alabama Shakes at Sutro and running into the biggest Sutro crowd these eyes have seen in four years of covering the fest (no hyperbole here — the crowd spanned all the way back to the venue entrance, shoulder to shoulder), we decided it best to invest in Explosions in the Sky. The Austin veterans have been a familiar name on the festival circuit some time now, and it makes sense why their name keeps getting called. Their expansive, nothing-short-of-epic jams manage to fill out the biggest outdoor spaces with ease, while Friday Night Lights fans recall memories of Jason Street and Smash playing for some horrid high school football district title.

Passion Pit, 6:50, Twin Peaks

This had to be the set of the day for anyone not wearing a Metallica shirt. The band’s sugary dance pop has always a crowd pleaser, and their new album, Gossamer, just gives them more excuses to get fans pogo-sticking. It seems like the band has found a new pinnacle with the track “I’ll be Alright,” which put the assembled in rare, frenzied form, with algorithmic synths alternating with stuttering drum machine innuendo. But “Sleepyhead” continues to be the definitive track of this young band’s stylistic credo, and Twin Peaks reacted accordingly. Calves will be sore today.

Sigur Ros, 8:40, Twin Peaks

All of Iceland seemed to be onstage for Sigur Ros’ moving, gripping set. Famed falsetto/bandleader Jonsi led his merry group of Scandinavians in a masterfully surreal set, as heavy mist dumped down on Hellman Hollow. The appropriateness of the scene wasn’t lost on Jonsi: “It’s like being at home in Iceland.” Sigur Ros raced up sonic peaks and descended aural valleys the way few in the biz can. It’s a similar approach to what Explosions in the Sky does, but myriad textures and turns take the fore. As fireworks stirred behind at Metallica’s set on the mainstage, it seemed obvious that Sigur Ros needed no gimmicks to mesmerize a crowd. Their crescendos have the same effect, but with all sorts of meaning we’ll have to translate later.

 

— @ChrisTrenchard