Day three of the Outside Lands Music Festival proved colorful as ever with awesome light shows from Flume, The Flaming Lips and Tiesto, but in the end, the final day was won by rock and roll.
Early afternoon at the Twin Peaks Stage featured San Francisco’s own poet-rapper Watsky. Looking like Michael Cera with a touch of hyphy, the wordsmith served up an energetic set from start to finish. After performing his newly released single, “Whoa Whoa Whoa,” Watsky kept the crowd on a high, saying, “Does anyone know why we go to festivals? …we’re here because we love music…if you’re feeling alive and loving life…put those beautiful grubby paws up in the air! Let’s go!” He freestyled the intro to “Tiny Glowing Screens Pt 1,” without stopping for breath, rapping about grabbing forties at McCovey Cove to the widespread delight of the young Bay Area audience before hands shot up as he chanted, “From the 415 or the 510” and the melodic chorus hit, getting everyone to dance.
He jumped around the stage for the catchy and quirky, “Sloppy Seconds” before calling for people to get down on their knees, closer to the Bay Area earth. “Do whatever the fuck moves you. If you feel lucky to be from the greatest metropolitan area on the planet make some noise!” he yelled, finishing out the song bouncing around stage. Next came “Stupidass” with freestyle a cappella moments chalk full of tongue-in-cheek, slightly- lisped verses. The energy dove for the slower, “Tiny Glowing Screens Pt.2” before picking back up for clap-along, “Ugly Faces.” He finished his set strong with, “Fuck an Emcee Name” full of enunciated self-empowerment and a killer final Busta Rhymes-paced verse.
Next up on the Twin Peaks Stage was Australian EDM DJ Flume, who absorbed the crowds from the main stage after Chvrches set was cancelled because they missed their flight. The mid afternoon sun burned off the morning fog and blazed high in the sky above the jam-packed Sunday crowd. A kaleidoscope spun as the backdrop visuals to the set, starting with a hum that built into a huge bass drop in “Sleepless.” Next was a cover of Major Lazer’s “Get Free,” with a rippling bass drop that had the massive crowd erupt into chaos as it stretched far beyond the reaches of the Twin Peaks Stage cove, spilling into the Panhandle Valley. The third song of the set, “Holdin’ On,” brought in some hip-hop beats before crowd favorite remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court.” The thumping bass pounded right into, “Insane” and “On Top” before thousands of hands shot in the air for the quick clap build-up to the Hermitude remix of “Hyper Paradise,” sounding like a space ship taking off and a shattering bass drop. This all built up the energy for final song of the set, a remix of Disclosure’s “You and Me.”
Back at the main stage, Spoon performed for a much more mellow Sunday afternoon crowd, many still laying in circles on the grass as they took the stage with “Knock Knock Knock.” The laid back set continued with the sinuous maraca rhythms of “Don’t You Evah” and the viscerally groovy, “Small Stakes.” The repetitive refrain and riff of “Who Makes Your Money” relaxed the hot afternoon crowds into a slow sway that continued through “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” which featured a leisurely screeching guitar solo, a highlight of the set.
Lead singer John Britt Daniel thanked the crowd and talked a little bit about the new album released earlier in the week, They Want My Soul, then playing a track off the album, “Inside Out,” a contemplative and wandering jam perfect for the Sunday crowd sprawled across the fields. They picked up the pace soon afterwards with “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” which featured quick percussion and upbeat piano notes. This should’ve been a high energy part of the set, but the performance ended up falling flat on the dopey crowd. The rock and roll “Rent I Pay” came next but also failed to deliver the punch the set needed. “Outlier” proved steady background music as people caught some sun and made beer runs, while the more danceable, “I Turn my Camera On” sparked a new energy with the familiar toe-tapping beat and Britt Daniel’s pleasantly high pitched calls. “Don’t Make Me a Target” slowed down the pace that would hold steady for the end of the set as the band finished out with “The Underdog” and “Got Nuffin,” for an altogether underwhelming but pleasantly relaxing set.
Unapologetic weirdos The Flaming Lips took the main stage with much more vigor and color as frontman Wayne Coyne walked out, naked torso painted blood red with a furry bear hat on and face paint of moons and happy faces. He greeted the crowd saying, “Hello San Francisco! This is one of the first places The Flaming Lips ever got to play. We love you so much. It all started on Haight Street.” People in blow-up cartoonish rainbows and mushrooms began dancing around the stage with Coyne as he got everyone to wave their hands side to side for the nostalgic piano intro to “The Abandoned Hospital Ship.” Next came the slow, wandering “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1,” where keyboardist Steven Drozd could be seen wearing a chrome cape and silver painted eye mask. Coyne ran off the stage with the blowup rainbow only to come back with wings of silver streamers for a cover of The Chemical Brothers’ summer jam, “The Golden Path.” Coyne whispered the opening beats of the echoing and transcendental “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate,” which featured a minute and a half ruminating guitar solo where Coyne twirled around with his silver wings and the crowd swayed back and forth.
Coyne struggled to break the crowd from their trance for the more energetic “Race for the Prize,” yelling out, “C’mon you guys!” Next came the light sweet serenade of “Vein of Stars” where Coyne pulled his favorite trick of singing from inside a plastic bubble and then tumbling over the crowd far, far away from stage while the spacey vibes continued into “Look…the Sun Is Rising.” He strolled in his bubble back over the crowd to return to the stage for the bass pounding intro to “The W.A.N.D.,” which managed to shake everyone from their sleepy trance. The technicolor visuals flashed and swirled with the blazing electric guitar riff, transporting the crowd to a new psychedelic groove before settling back down with the tinkling piano of “Spoonful Weighs A Ton.” They finished off the set with a trippy neon cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Coyne’s vocals lost steam throughout the song and the electric guitars suffered some crucial moments of blaring feedback, but the brilliant lights and fog canons overwhelmed the mediocre performance, made all the more tangible by Coyne saying, “C’mon motherfuckers it’s our last song!”
The fog settled back in over the Sunday night crowd, shrouding the night’s supermoon in an eerie mist as it rose high in the sky for final headliners of the festival, The Killers. The battle-born Vegas showmen delivered the best main stage light show of the weekend as stars and lasers flashed and exploded with an invigorating set of hit after hit. As the goosebump-raising electric guitar lick to the timeless “Mr. Brightside” surged out and electrified thousands for the final show of the weekend, the glitzy foursome appeared out of the darkness, lit up by a multitude of flashing bulbs. The ever-slick and dandy frontman Brandon Flowers smiled as the drum and guitar crescendoed to the chorus while the crowd went nuts for the first song ever written by the band. Next came the arena- ready chorus of “Spaceman,” where Flowers’ voice and the 80s synth pop melody transported the dancing masses to outer space and back. The dazzling yearning ballads continued with “The Way It Was,” with Flowers laughed as he said, “Are you gonna show us a good time tonight?” The crowd erupted in cheers and he replied “I believe ya!” before smashing right into Killers’ classic “Smile Like You Mean It.”
Flowers charmed the crowd again saying, “This is a very fabulous crowd, Ronnie was just saying. Thank you for being so good to us!” Red, white, and blue lazer lights and stars exploded for “Human.” The audience sang the chorus as Flowers’ silhouette was projected huge on the screens, holding the mic up to the sky. The lights flashed madly for the androgynous romance tale “Somebody Told Me.” Flower’s waited for the cheers to quiet down before telling the crowd, “We love the Bay Area. It’s given us so much. It’s given us the Gold Rush, the 49ers, Uncle Jessie, Riceroni, the Grateful Dead. It’s given us the great CCR.” And beneath the brilliant supermoon, The Killers played a mosh-pit inspiring cover of San Francisco’s own Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.”
The San Francisco covers continued with a performance of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” which Flower’s adjusted, singing “I left my home in Vegas, headed for the Frisco bay.” They blazed through the final songs of the set with “Ready My Mind,” “Runaways” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” which had the audience screaming the immortal Killers mantra, “I got soul but I’m not a soldier.” “Shot at the Night” and “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” preceded the festival- closing epic, “When You Were Young.” The brilliantly bittersweet ballad carried the rock and roll weekend to a fitting close as nostalgia reigned in the hearts of all in the final moments of Outside Lands. The dazzling lights and final promise that “you can dip your feet every once in a little while” left concertgoers with stars in their eyes as they walked out the park tunnel and back into the streets of San Francisco.