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Published: 2008/08/26

Outside Lands Inside and Out

The inaugural Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival an estimated 150,000

fans to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park over the course of three days this
past weekend. Co-produced by Bonnaroo masterminds Superfly and local
promoters Another Planet, like its Manchester, TN counterpart, Outside Lands
adopted a familiar, fan-friendly feel and boasted a similarly eclectic
lineup hinged on headliners Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson and
Radiohead. The latter group was awarded the distinct honor of being the
first group to perform in Golden Gate Park at night on Friday night.
Though Outside Lands was by and large a success, boasting six stages, local
food vendors and a wine tent stocked with local delicacies, the festival was
plagued with sound problems on Friday and Saturday. In fact, the festival’s
sound system cut out at various points throughout the weekend, most notably
during Radiohead’s headlining performance Friday. Singer Thom Yorke handled
the problems like a gentleman, apologizing to the crowd and reminding fans
that, in the end, ‘it is about the music.’ Unusually long distances between
the stages also forced fans to choose between performances throughout the
Like Bonnaroo, though, Outside Lands blurred the barriers between genres,
placing classic rock, indie, jam, world music and hip-hop acts side by side. Tom Petty packed his headlining performances Saturday with hits like ‘I
Won’t Back Down,’ ‘Refugee’ and ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance,’ as well as the
occasional nod to his time in the Traveling Wilburys. As he has periodically
throughout his summer tour, Petty also invited out Steve Winwood to front
the Heartbreakers on his early classics ‘Gimme Some Lovin’‘ and ‘Can’t Find
My Way Home.’ Backstage, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell recalled to
Relix/ his first time seeing Jerry Garcia at a festival in Florida and how
‘he’s loosened [his] guitar style and tried to jam out a little more’ since
reuniting with Mudcrutch earlier this year.
Radiohead opened its performance with two songs from 2007’s In Rainbows, ’15 Step’ and ‘Reckoner,’ before offering an overview of its catalogue that
included ‘Airbag,’ ‘Talk Show Host,’ ‘National Anthem,’ ‘Idioteque,’ ‘Karma
Police,’ ‘Exit Music (for a film)’ and ‘Bodysnatchers.’ The group’s
five-song encore covered similar ground: ‘Pyramid Song,’ ‘You And Whose
Army?,’ ‘Paranoid Android,’ ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and a slow-closing
‘Everything In Its Right Place.’ As the sun set, the group also made use of
its new eco-friendly lighting rig.
Likewise, festival closer Jack Johnson dotted his setlist with sing-alongs
like ‘Banana Pancakes’ and ‘Mudfootball.’ The everyman singer also brought
out a slew of guests including ALO’s Dave Brogan and Dan Lebowitz, the
Culver City Dub Collective and Rogue Wave
frontman Zach Rogue, the latter of
whom sang on a cover of Cat Stevens’ ‘Where Do The Children Play.’ Johnson
also invited his keyboardist, ALO singer Zach Gill, to take center stage
before his hometown crowd on his new solo cut ‘Family.’

Several other bands collaborated with outside musicians throughout the
festival: Broken Social Scene invited the satellite members that comprise
the group Stars and ex-Pavement guitarist Scott ‘Spiral Stairs’ Kannberg
onstage at various points throughout their set, Widespread Panic invited out
Grammy contest winner Ann Marie Calhoun to play fiddle and Galactic anchored
a Crescent City Soul Krewe that drew in Cyril Neville, percussionist Mike
Dillon and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band horns.
A number of celebrities were also spotted onsite throughout the weekend,
ranging from actor/comedian Robin Williams to Grateful Dead percussionist
Mickey Hart to actress Natalie Portman, who arrived Saturday to check out
her current beau Devendra Banhart. Though Hart was spotted side stage at
several performances, the only musician to directly nod to The Dead, whose
free performances are synonymous with Golden Gate Park, was Phil Lesh &
Friends singer/guitarist Jackie Greene, who covered ‘New Speedway Boogie.’
Elsewhere, Manu Chao spoke out against George W. Bush, Sharon Jones brought
audience members onstage to dance during the Dap-King’s performance and
Primus dotted its second show of the year with favorites such as ‘Frizzle
Fry,’ ‘Jerry Was a Racecar Driver’ and ‘John the Fisherman.’ Other standout
performances included Beck’s hits-heavy set, M. Ward’s new percussion-heavy
band and Nels Cline’s particularly euphoric solo with Wilco during
‘Impossible Germany,’ after which Jeff Tweedy joked that Cline had sealed
his zipper with a safety pin before his show.

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