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Outside Lands Music Festival 2015 Review

Look at all of these people!!! 

   
Those few words were a clear understatement of a festival that I easily looked at as the best of times for everything surrounding it and the experience, however at times it became unenjoyable, not due to the organizers themselves, but in response to its inevitable growth.

This years festival was bigger than life in some respects, with the GIANT Ranger Dave installations (statue, golf) around the festival grounds. 
 
The usual Outside Lands weather was absent, with 80 degree weather the first day, giving it more of a generic feel than in past years…and a bunch of sweating. Festival organizers have no control of that, however the usual mystique Of the fog rolling in, is part of what has historically given the festival character.

This was the third Outside Lands since 2012, and the second time that I was able to experience it with a companion (2013 was virtually a solo mission) that petered out the last day.

Attending festivals, is enjoyable in being at the event itself. Coachella and Outside Lands have been destination events for me. With that said, the lineup for Outside Lands was underwhelming in light of the past few years. 2012 gave me Foo Fighters for the first time in my life, and 2013 offered the reunited Nine In Nails in the outside incarnation of their Twenty Thirteen Tour. And the missed 2014 with Kanye West. Headliners Elton John, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar, and acts like D’Angelo who appeared after missing the 2013 incarnation, were artist that I had seen before and did not inspire me as past lineups have. Unfortunately, this year many acts had set times that conflicted with each other, more so than past years. Mumford opening was eclipsed by D’Angelo’s performance with support by friend Joi Gilliam (oft mentioned on this blog) now a resident of Los Angeles after being unappreciated by Atlanta. The Black Keys rated higher for me than seeing Kendrick Lamar, though I skipped his uninspiring 2012 Coachella performance. Sam Smith was conveniently scheduled prior to Elton John, while Axwell v Ingrosso was in conflict. Though I have seen Elton twice, I had to see his performance. After the long weekend, sitting in the VIP section at the Lands End stage in exchange for standing in the VIP mob around Twin Peaks was an easy choice. Seeing Atlanta wall and street artist Greg Mike represented heavily was a great positive. For what the music festival is, the amount of local artists on the lineup was not a positive regarding the musical choices. Also, at the cost of VIP, having the VIP area limited to Lands End and Twin Peaks is not worth the money. There should be VIP viewing at all stages, and express entry into The Barbary (which I have yet to attend) and the Heineken House (Dome). The Bison Bucks were a terrible addition as well.
 

The Bro’s
In 2012, before attending my first Coachella, I read articles warning about the unwelcome addition to many festivals…”The Bro’s”   
   
In addition to the increased crowds (Friday looked like the previous’ years Sundays in attendance) there was an over abundance of the Bro contingent. Smashing beers, yelling out to each other, looking corny in their tank tops (or no shirts), flip-flops, and straw hats…everywhere you turned there was a Bro. It’s not enjoyable to watch Chet Faker perform, with the Bro next to you screaming for him to perform his cover of BlackStreet’s “No Diggety” during the entire performance. Or the Bro’s conversing on the necessity to see D’Angelo…and to fuck seeing Mumford & Sons, but know none of his music.

The peace I remembered from past Outside Lands, was only to be seen early on Saturday…the Bro’s were not awake yet. Those were times to chill in VIP, go to Wine Lands, the Heineken House, etc. but when the Bro’s and the crowds woke up…it was an uncomfortable experience. How’re conundrum, how do you return to past times? You don’t…you just adapt.

In the end, I had extremely enjoyable moments, but there was much I could have done without. The lows are not enough to end my attendance of the festival. I “hated” getting in late and missing SZA, life happens. I would also suggest that organizers look at auctioning off some of the past years art installations, especially with some appearing to be poorly cared for, and the general crowded feeling with the art. A tremendous positive were the friends and experiences surrounding Outside Lands, coupled with staying in the city, and not at the airport.

Highlights:
Top artist:
The Black Keys – though they did not, and never play “Sister,” the last show of their Turn Blue tour. My connection with their music, coupled with the amazing performance of course helped make them the true highlight of the festival. 
    
    
 

Secondary:
Both Mumford & Sons and D’Angelo were a close tie for second (my consensus, not my compatriots who easily would put D’Angelo at 2nd). Mumford & Sons cathartic music was an emotional roller coaster, while a rejuvenated D’Angelo gave a unbelievably energetic performance, supported by Joi Giliam. Elton John, was normal good Elton John. After seeing him twice with Billy Joel, an outside appearance does not add much more to the experience. I sat and enjoyed the show and rested. 
    
    
    
   

Surprises:
Leon Bridges (Amy approved) 
 
Davey D 
 

Hot Chip 
 

ODESZA  
  

Chet Faker 
 

Greg Mike 
 

Tots 
 

Positives:
Billy Idol 
 

The homie Joi Gilliam 
    
 

Tame Impala (Shaky Knees) 
 

Elton John 
 

Django Django 
 

Speedy Ortiz (Shaky Knees) 
 

St. Vincent 
 

Outsider Lands Art 
    
    
    
    
   

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.

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