This weekend's Outside Lands lineup has suffered mixed reviews, many bemoaning the lack of standout headliners. Um, obviously they didn't take a look at the list of food vendors. Serious SF food star power! Let's Be Frank, Namu, Yats, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen! But since the festival is all about the, uh, the music, we decided to pair food and bands for the ultimate GG Park experience. Here's what we really think would bring out the flavors this weekend's musical acts.
So, it's not news that your typical hot dog is made up of a hodgepodge of spare animals parts. In fact, you may or may not have sworn them off in your youth for this very reason. But then Let's Be Frank came along, touting their pasture-raised, hormone-free beef hot dogs. Similarly, one of the most complained-about acts at this year's festival is My Morning Jacket, who aren't as kinetic as last year's headliners Black Eyed Peas or as cultish as Dave Matthews' Band. They are, however, known for being one of the country's best live bands and have the soaring, epic jams to prove it. If you wrote off hot dogs before revolutionaries like Let's Be Frank came along, give them--and My Morning Jacket--a chance.
In the current tidal wave of cupcake shops sweeping the Bay, the confectioners at Mission Minis are quickly becoming the movement's tastemakers. Mission Minis is blazing the sugary trail with flavors like Cinnamon Horchata, Aztec Chocolate and Pink Lemonade. Inhale a few of these while head-bopping to the freshly-reunited Strokes. These New Yorkers were tastemakers in the early 2000s and are still influencing scrappy indie bands today. Like Mission Minis, the Strokes burst onto the scene with an already perfected repertoire. Unlike Mission Minis, the Strokes, after a four-year hiatus, now have a lot to live up to. If you got to see the Strokes in their prime (and when Julian Casablancas was still an alcoholic), pop some Mission Minis in your mouth to make the whole thing that much sweeter.
Namu is one of the best genre-bending food acts around. At Outside Lands they'll be serving up their famous Korean tacos. These crispy seaweed-wrapped slices of juicy steak and daikon and kim chi salsa make your mouth go "WHAT?" and "Mmmm" simultaneously, just like Outside Lands act Janelle Monae. A sonic fusion master in her own right, Monae can count herself as a breakout artist of 2010 with her adjective-defying debut, The Archandroid (Bad Boy/Wondaland Arts Society). A Ziggy Stardust-esque tale of a messianic android come to Earth, it's steeped in R&B, funk, rap, disco, cabaret and psychedelic rock. That doesn't make sense on paper, but it flows seamlessly into the kind of pop pantheon occupied by the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson. Munch on a Namu taco while catching Janelle Monae and your brain might just turn inside out.
Yats' New Orleans Original Po Boys are about as authentically "Dirty South" as you can get in the Bay Area. Since 2008 they've been keeping it real by importing Leidenheimer French Bread and live crawfish straight from Louisiana and keeping their menu edited to feature the classics. It's time-honored fare done simply and deliciously--much like the legend Al Green, who will be gracing one of the main stages at Outside Lands this year. Green's soul style became the blueprint for everything after in the 70s and it's still timeless 40 years later. The sumptious beats and Green's deeply impassioned vocals echo the spiced richness of New Orleans cuisine, like a match made in heaven. Or the foggy fields of Golden Gate Park.
Get ready for ooey-gooey organic s'mores from Charles Chocolates. They'll also be serving their French style and frozen hot chocolates, but it's the s'mores that will be the stars. Everything from the graham crackers to the marshmallows are made by hand using all organic ingredients. Gogol Bordello are the organic s'mores of this year's festival lineup. They're a nouveaux gypsy collective that makes infectious music with an unbelievable primal instinct for energy and lush sound. Like Charles Chocolates' s'mores, they've eschewed the usual rock band set up for a mix of accordions, violins, and saxophones and play with the same unhinged passion hippies have for the organic food movement.
Aterciopelados, from Colombia, are a Latin band putting a new sheen on native sounds with north-of-the-border rock and shades of electronica. It's a fusion completely their own and each time you listen, there's more to uncover. The reason Aterciopelados' (the Velvety Ones) music floats so easily through the brain is because it never dwells in one stylistic place for long, which is precisely why Pica Pica Maize Kitchen's arepas are so tasty. Although arepas, made of cornmeal, are an ancient concoction, Pica Pica takes them to the modern, making a wheatand gluten-freen variety. At Outside Lands, they'll be serving their Cachapas, Maize'wiches and Arepas, all of which you can fill with mouth-watering combinations like shredded skirt steak, plaintains, black beans and cheese or pulled pork, avocado, tomatoes and aioli. And vegetarians, fear not! There are also several meat-free arepas awaiting your tastebuds.