The third and final day of Outside Lands is in the books which means it’s time for my third and final “Best and Worst” roundup. Unless I keep this up indefinitely.
Best: Mon Laferte — It tuns out Latin America has been holding out on us. They’ve had Mon Laferte for years and never let us know.
Headliners aside—a pyrotechnics budget always helps, after all—she and her band put on by far the best show I saw at Outside Lands. It was incredible. Her set was only 45 minutes but I had more fun in that time than I have at a show in years.
The costumes and set design felt like a ’30s throwback, and her aesthetic is decidedly tattooed-pinup-cabaret, but the music is something else. The guitar player was performing full-blown punk rock, for example, and the horn section were clearly having so much fun it was impossible not to join in.
Next time she goes on a North American tour, I’m going to her show. I’ll drive to L.A. for it. That’s how much I enjoyed her set.
Worst: Latin America — Come on, you guys. I know the U.S. hasn’t been great to you lately but it never occurred to you to send a note up to California telling us to check out Mon Laferte? It’s not like you didn’t know how good she is, she’s a judge on the Chilean version of The X Factor and everything.
Who else are you hiding down there? Is the next Kurt Cobain rocking out in the rainiest city in Guatemala? Is the new John Lennon protesting something in Bolivia by not getting out of bed? We like good music up here too, you know!
Best: K.Flay — It was nice to see K.Flay on the main stage. She’s good as a rapper, and she’s also good as the alternative rocker she’s evolving into. Her more recent stuff reminds me of a harder version of Liz Phair, Natalie Imbruglia, and Meredith Brooks from the ’90s.
When things remind me of the ’90s it makes me feel less out of touch! Plus, I’m a big fan of women who rock.
Worst: Karl the Fog — A fog so dense it was practically a drizzle that rolled in on Sunday afternoon and ‘worst’ doesn’t even do it justice. Nothing kills a mood like being very cold and very damp. Not to mention people slipping on the grass, shoes caked in mud, and scantily-dressed attendees being forced to overspend on commemorative coats.
Welcome to summer in San Francisco.
Best: Above & Beyond — A former coworker who shall remain nameless (unless you follow me on Twitter) suggested I go see them and I was hesitant. It’s not that I have anything against EDM, it’s just that I’m a mostly-immobile giant in my mid-30s and that’s not exactly the genre’s niche. What if I accidentally call it techno, for example? Because that’s what the genre was called back in my day. Is that a faux pas?
It turns out, though, that I liked the music a lot. It reminds me of the sort of thing I listened to while fixing computers during my stint as an IT guy in the early ’00s.
I’m sure there’s a lesson in this, but by then the fog had rolled in so I was too cold and damp to pick up on it.
Worst: The effects of age on the human body — I was right about the awkwardness, though. My knees are shot, so after three days on my feet, climbing up and down hills, I could barely walk (let alone dance). I am 6 feet, 4-inches, so I stood above the crowd, the only guy not moving.
I got my share of weird looks is what I’m saying. They probably thought I was a narc. Do people still say ‘narc’? Get off my lawn!
Best: Action Bronson — In addition to being a rapper, Action Bronson has multiple shows on cable TV. In those shows there’s little to none of his actual music. This apparently leads to a lot of people who think they like Action Bronson but, upon actually hearing him rap, realize they don’t.
At least that’s the best explanation I’ve got for a steady stream of mostly young people leaving through most of his set. I’m not sure if I can remember a time I was enjoying something that so many people were walking out of. Which is a shame for them, because he had a good set and did several songs off his upcoming album, Blue Chips 7000.
Worst: The lack of rap and hip-hop — Sure there were Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, and K.Flay’s early stuff on Sunday, and they featured Dr. Octagon on Friday afternoon. Yes, they were supposed to have A Tribe Called Quest but didn’t due to “travel difficulties.” But even if it had all fallen into place that’s still a tiny percentage of the festival.
Maybe next year they can expand their horizons across the Bay and ask some of the many, many great Oakland rappers to join in. Judging by the size of the crowd for Schoolboy Q it wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Best: That good night’s sleep after three days of live music — Maybe it’s just me, but I can never sleep very well between days of a music festival. It’s some mixture of exhaustion and excitement. But I’m looking forward to the post-festival mini-coma to come as I catch up on all that lost sleep from this weekend.
Worst: Going back to the real world — It’s probably best that you don’t ask what happened while we were having fun at all those shows.