Another year, another great weekend of music, food, and wine at Golden Gate Park, and if only it could last forever. Outside Lands had to make their big tenth anniversary a party worth remembering, and even with a few hiccups along the way, they had already succeeded in doing that by the time Sunday rolled around. Not to mention, Sunday was the only day that didn't face any cancellations or lineup changes; the storm had been weathered, so the last day was a victory lap. Here are the biggest highlights from the final day out in the park.
BEST MORNING SLOT: Lee Fields & The Expressions
As discussed in our Saturday recap
, the morning slot is both a blessing and a curse for most artists. On one hand, you're playing a major festival, likely for the first time in your career, which is the greatest opportunity to gain fans from all over the world. On the other hand, most of the audience is tired, hungover, or ambivalent, making for a daunting battle for the crowd's attention. This challenge proved to be no match for Lee Fields, a soul singer who's been in the business for decades, but only recently has stepped into the spotlight with his band The Expressions. It takes a true connoisseur of soul to make the massive, outdoor Lands End Stage feel like a smoky, intimate club in Detroit in the 1970s, but Fields and the Expressions did just that with minimal effort. The spirit and groove of James Brown was well represented at Golden Gate Park this year, and the day was so much better for it.
MOST GENUINE ARTIST: Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers was immediately smiling when she entered the stage in a red-and-silver jumpsuit, and that level of joy didn't dissipate for the entire set. Though she initially gained a huge jolt in attention thanks to Pharrell and his face
, Rogers has since garnered a still-growing following based on her own merit, making a solid major-label debut with this year's Now That The Light Is Fading
EP. Even with only five songs released, Rogers and her band still had plenty of material to get the Sutro Stage crowd dancing, pulling out songs Rogers wrote in high school and college and even a stellar cover of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon." Whether she sang her hits like "On + Off" and "Alaska" or her yet-to-be released material, the particularly receptive audience was with Rogers the whole time, and her gratitude was clear when she got a little emotional at the end. It was an incredibly lovely moment watching Rogers choke up while staring at a literal field of screaming fans, and it only makes you want to root for her even more.
MOST ANTHEMS IN ONE SET: Young The Giant
Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for CA natives Young The Giant– Almost their entire discography can be included in my high school soundtrack– but it seemed like they had a particularly large amount of songs that the whole crowd could easily sing along to. "Cough Syrup," "Silvertongue," "Something To Believe In," "My Body," "Mind Over Matter," the list goes on...All of these songs just have unbelievably catchy hooks that are practically impossible not to sing to once you've heard them. In other words, the band is perfect for the biggest stages of the biggest festivals, which is exactly what they got on Sunday. Hell, I'm still humming their songs as I'm writing this.
BEST SURPRISINGLY WHOLESOME MOMENT: Lorde & Jack Antonoff
It's always nice to see an artist shake up a festival set with the occasional curveball, and Lorde did just that by inviting good friend and Melodrama
producer Jack Antonoff of Bleachers onto the stage. Sitting at the front of the stage, the pair performed an impromptu cover of Paul Simon's "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard," laughing and making faces at each other like longtime mates hanging out after class. It was a little odd in context of Lorde's usual set of heavy, bass-y songs about teenage love and angsty confusion, but that didn't make the inclusion any less welcome. It was a lovely little moment to experience in person, and for a quick few minutes, the whole park felt like a bunch of carefree kids wasting time with friends, and there's nothing wrong with that.
WORLD'S COOLEST GRANDPARENTS: The Who
"You're young!" Pete Townshend said to the crowd as he, Roger Daltrey, and the rest of The Who entered the stage, "We are not
young!" It's true that legendary English band may not have as sharp of a bite as they did 50 years ago, but no one in the crowd was complaining as they tore through their legendary collection of hits. Townshend kept the windmills going like he always has, and it was exhilarating watching Daltrey dig deep to belt out songs like "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Love Reign O'er Me." While there were certainly some senior moments, namely the "no smoking" sign flashed during setup because Daltrey is "allergic to smoke," you forgot you were watching two dudes pushing 70 and instead focused on the fact you were witnessing actual rock icons doing what they do best. Sure, there's an irony to the lyric, "I hope I die before I get old," but the thousands of fans at Golden Gate Park were certainly happy Townshend and Daltrey were still around to show the young kids how it's done.