REWIND: CupcakKe, Paul Simon, Altin Gun and the best songs heard at Outside Lands


CupcakKe performs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the Outside Lands Music Festival on Aug. 10, 2019. Photo: Martin Lacey.

It’s been a week since Outside Lands, so I’ve had enough time to mostly recover, which means it’s time to get all nostalgic.

If you didn’t attend the festival; well, I can’t give you the entire experience. You’re on your own for the food, the beer, the enormous mass of people, the sunburn and the small mob of bros peeing on a tree during an EDM show [Gokhman note: The urination was not limited to EDM. This year I had a dude peeing on a tree 10 feet away from an interview with a folk band. Last year, another dude (I really hope it wasn’t the same one) was letting it loose 10 feet away from my interview with one of the biggest pop songwriters of the last decade]. I’m sure you can find all that on Craigslist.

What I can give you are five of the best musical selections, in the form of a list interspersed with commentary and jokes.

Altin Gün — “Goca Dünya”

Did you miss the festival itself, our review of Saturday, my Saturday column and Aarushi Nanda’s interview? Well, this is your last chance to get on the psychedelic Turkish folk rock bandwagon.

It’s a little weird. There’s a string instrument you’ve never heard of involved. But it’s great, and it’s your new favorite genre. Feel free to use your newfound knowledge of it to try and impress a girl with a nose ring at a party. It definitely won’t work; don’t get me wrong, but feel free to do it anyway.

CupcakKe — “Squidward Nose”

CupcakKe, by herself, is enough to counterbalance most of the misogyny in hip-hop.

By far the most vulgar rapper of the festival, and the most sexually explicit, and probably the best, she visibly shocked people who didn’t realize what they were getting into. And it was beautiful. Everything about her show was great, and more rappers should be like her, though I’m not sure many could pull it off.

She also has the only “Old Town Road” remix you need to hear. Everyone else can stop; she wins. [Gokhman note: Make sure all the kids have left the room when you click “play.”]

P-Lo — “samesquad”

Yeah, it’s a good song. He’s a great performer. His set was awesome. But he beats out the competition for a couple reasons:

First, he’s from the East Bay. Regular readers of my column as well as anyone who’s sat near me on public transit knows I’m all about local musicians. If I can get you to listen to one Bay Area musician you’d never heard before, and also send me money, I’ll have accomplished everything I set out to do with this column.

Second, he brought A’s mascot Stomper on stage for his performance. Every concert should have Stomper. Every single one.

Mavis Staples — “No Time For Cryin'”

Mavis Staples is a legend, and she proved it with an absolutely legendary set on Sunday morning.

People who haven’t followed her since her Staple Singers days may be surprised that she released an entire protest album. They shouldn’t be, of course—she’s from the civil rights movement; this fight isn’t new to her. But she had the most overtly political set of the festival and nailed it.

Notably, it wasn’t just political. I love Rage Against the Machine, but they offer very few solutions in their music. Mavis Staples, meanwhile, manages to rile you up, then uplift you and inspire you to action, all in song. It’s incredible, and if you get a chance to see her live, you should do it.

Paul Simon — “You Can Call Me Al”

If I’m being honest, this isn’t my favorite Paul Simon song.

I’m partial to the Simon and Garfunkel stuff, and I got that in his Sunday night set with a rare performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” a duet of “The Boxer” with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, and a genuinely moving solo performance of “The Sound of Silence” to close out the night.

Of his solo stuff, I much prefer “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” both of which he played. And, impressively, his live versions were a little better than the studio versions I still love.

But at the show? The highlight was, by far, “You Can Call Me Al.” With a full band, a horn section and thousands of people dancing along, it’s an absolutely amazing song. Nobody could resist dancing along! I was sitting in the ADA section for people with mobility issues and someone literally stood up out of a wheelchair to dance!

And with that, my Outside Lands coverage formally ends for the year. We return to your regularly scheduled nonsense next week.

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