Artists with Bay Area ties reflect on Outside Lands

I interviewed all but one of the artists with direct local connections to the Bay Area for a story on the Outside Lands Music Festival, which you can read here. The result was a magazine length-worthy piece, and I still had a bunch of quotes left over from the artists. You can also read a separate interview with Allen Scott of Another Planet Entertainment, one of the festival’s producers.

I’m sharing the best of the leftovers here with you right now.

Who are you excited to see the most this year?

Emma Oppen (Trails and Ways): I think we’re all looking forward to seeing Petty.

Mikal Cronin: I’ll be wandering around for sure. I want to see Tom Petty. He’s going to be fun. Phosphorescent is a great band. There’s quite a handful of bands I haven’t heard yet. That’s always a really fun part of festivals for me — wandering around and watching as many new bands as I can.

Mikal Cronin

Nicki Bluhm: Tom Petty, always. We’ve seen him a bunch. Actually, the first time I saw him was at Outside Lands. That was a big moment for me. I feel like everyone’s a Tom Petty fan, just by default — by osmosis — if you’re in your 30s, especially. I went out into the crowd and I knew every word of every song. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much a part of my childhood his music was. Tedeschi Trucks I love. I think Susan is an amazing singer, and Derrek of course is great.

Alex DiDonato (Finish Ticket): There’s so many good bands at Outside Lands. I’m really looking forward to Tom Petty myself because he’s playing the same day as us. Arctic Monkeys are one of our favorite bands, and we can speak for Brendan, who’s a big fan of The Killers. I want to see Kanye, too.

Finish Ticket

Gabe Stein (Finish Ticket): We’re all happy that Outside Lands has a unique line-up. It seems like the same bands playing everywhere else.

Alex DiDonato: Also, we’re excited to play; for sure.

Do you have a favorite non-musical aspect of the festival? 

Ben Morrison (The Brothers Comatose): I would say my favorite non-musical aspect is that I get to see one of the most beautiful city parks that’s pretty much in my own backyard transformed into a massive festival. The festival grounds are a 20 minute walk from my front porch and it’s pretty great to see it transform from empty fields into a bustling festival.

The Brothers Comatose

Will you be doing anything to prepare for Outside Lands?

Oppen:  We’re playing 30 shows right beforehand.

DiDonato: We don’t have any kind of ritual to prepare for specific shows. Usually before every show, we’ll do a pre-show huddle. We don’t really do any special preparation because we don’t want to get it in our head that it’s a different or weird show. We just want to go out and have fun every night.

Gabe Stein: Luckily, we’ve been touring a lot this year. We’ve played a lot of shows. We played bigger shows and smaller shows and everything in-between.

Feel any pressure about playing in front of such a large audience, and what would you like to accomplish?

DiDonato: We’re a little more excited and nervous about it than other shows because it’s a big festival and a big show for us locally. A lot of our friends … will be able to see us, and possibly a lot of new people. We’re definitely stoked to play.

Nick Stein (Finish Ticket): We want to play in front of as many people as possible.

DiDonato: I would love to meet Tom Petty and hopefully the Arctic Monkeys, too.

Keith Brower Brown (Trails and Ways): I want to see the people in the back row to feel the songs we’ve been working on.

Trails and Ways

Oppen: We want to make people feel good.

Brower Brown: And then not good, and then good again. It should be transcendent.

Bluhm: We want to make people happy, really joyous.


Nicki Bluhm

Cronin: I just want to have fun and put on the best show I can for hometown friends.

Scott Hansen (Tycho): The accomplishment is already accomplished. I’ve always wanted to play at Outside Lands, so just the fact that we’re getting to play there is a big honor. It’s one of my favorite festivals. I go to it every year anyway.

Do you think it’s important for local bands to play Outside Lands?

Oppen: If presented with the opportunity, it’s really great to be able to play to that many people. It is important to be able to get music out there. But it’s not a requirement for bands in the Bay Area to play Outside Lands.

What can fans expect with your performance.

George Watsky: We’re definitely going to do our best to put on a great show. It’s our last show before we do a club tour. It’s one day before my new album comes out. It comes out on the 12th, and we’re playing Sunday, the 11th.


Do you have a favorite non-musical aspect of the festival?

Hanson: The environment is about as good as you can get for a festival. I love the layout because it feels like one of those pick-your-own adventures. You have all these stages hidden. The main stage and the second biggest stage are completely on opposite sides of this long, narrow corridor. You pass through this forest on the way, and it just feels like you’re in a new environment.


Desccribe your current relationship with the Bay Area.

Watsky: I come to the Bay all the time. My parents still live there. I was just there last week. My mom teaches at Sherman Elementary School in the Marina district, and I talked to her fourth and fifth graders. And my dad has a psychotherapy practice in Cow Hollow. I went to a couple of Giants games with him. … I’m on the Warped Tour right now but we’re trying to work something out with the Giants for me to do something for Jewish Heritage Night with them.

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