Outside Lands 2011
Oakland's tUnE-yArDs, although fairly new on the scene, is already blowing minds. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus just performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week, drumming up insane amounts of anticpation for her early show. And the hype is completely warranted. Garbus does what most musicians wouldn't dare to do onstage for fear of screwing up: she bravely creates and loops all her drums and vocals on the spot, layering tribal beats and melodies underneath soaring, pitch-perfect singing that sounds like its coming from the throat of an African man.
Photos by Grady Brannan
What seemed like a hundred thousand people filled every nook and cranny of the Lands' End main stage to see Muse, the British band that is known for its insanely epic live shows. Muse is confounding. When you ask anyone if they've heard of them, it's a fifty-fifty chance you'll get either a blank stare or instant, vehement recognition.
The Roots have been pumping out mind-blowing examples of first-class musicianship for decades. But you really feel the depths of their talent when they bust out a range of seemingly impromptu live covers, each sounding kinda (dare we say it) better than the original. The Philly collective surprised the crowd with guitar-wailing, seamlessly transitioned covers of "Love to Love You Baby," "Sweet Child of Mine," "Jungle Boogie" and "Bad to the Bone" Saturday night, casting a feel-good dance spell across the entire lawn of the Twin Peaks stage. They eventually brought it all back to their own favorites with "You Got Me," "Next Movement" and "The Seed" to heavy cheers. Their Outside Lands performance drove home this advice: If you ever get the chance to see The Roots live, do it.
Flanked by an enormous dream catcher, The Black Keys did what they do best today and totally rocked out the Lands End stage with their sultry blend of blues-rock. Fans of both 2008's Attack & Release and of last year's perennial favorite Brothers got their fix, as the Ohio band played to a sea of adoring, sun and beer lubricated fans.
"I declare the sun officially out," announced singer Sonny Smith. And it was. Just as the clouds vanished from the sky over the park, San Francisco's Sonny & The Sunsets began to croon and strum. People laid on blankets, others did handstands, and still more busted out mellow dance moves. The mood was ecstatic and the band did a heck of a job egging it on.
There was a chilly breeze wafting through the forest on the walk to the Sutro stage, but as soon as we arrived to see San Francisco's own Stone Foxes get underway, things heated up–really fast. It didn't matter that the afternoon was young and still gloomy or that most of the crowd could still count themselves as sober. Compsure was lost, and anyone with a working set of muscles found themselves writhing around like maniacs. It was the first time I'd seen bona fide headbanging and a ferocious mosh pit in the park. Just the way it's a meant to be.
Due to some computer glitch (it was tempting to yell out "is there an Apple Genius in the house?"), Big Boi didn't perform. The crowd waited nearly an hour for them to get it together, eliciting a sea of cringeworthy boos. To appease, Big Boi came out at one point, saying he'd been waiting back stage for two hours himself, having dinner with Dave Chappelle.