Outside Lands 2014 – A Chill Blend of Electronic and Rock

Outside Lands isn’t the usual festival fare we talk about here on OTB. However, this year’s lineup included a heavy dose of top EDM artists, making it an event to talk about. So if you’ve never been before, check out the review. And if you attended, let us know what you thought of your experience at the 7th annual Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA!

Outside Lands

Credit: Ban The Bottle

The Music 

Outside Lands’ music lineup always does a great job appealing to everyone, and this year’s was no different. In addition to great rock, pop and hip-hop artists, the festival invited a strong group of DJs and EDM artists. The lineup includes more electronic music each year as the genre grows in popularity.

Awesome beats were represented by the headliner and rave-royalty Tiesto. Supporting him were Disclosure, Duck Sauce, Flume, Chromeo, Tycho, Boys Noize and Gold Panda. Tiesto closed out the festival Sunday night, with upwards of 10,000 people jumping and swaying to his sound on the Twin Peaks stage. With a sloping bowl and grandstand, Twin Peaks made Tiesto’s set feel like a stadium concert. He mixed material from his deep catalogue of hits with tracks from his newest album – ‘A Town Called Paradise’. Lights, sounds, and loud bass really made this set hum with life.

Flume played a great 90-minute set on Sunday afternoon, mixing in crowd favorites – ‘Drop the Game’ and ‘Holdin On’ were amazing – with some newer and more downtempo songs. There were a few times his downtempo tracks lost the crowd a bit, but he always brought it back. After his set, rumor has it Flume threw on a bucket-hat and walked around the festival incognito.

Chromeo and Disclosure played back-to-back Friday at sunset – an epic two hours of music on the main stage. Chromeo was explosive and played a really loud, pumped-up hour to a huge crowd, jump-starting the festival. Disclosure, unfortunately, was a little off. While their music was as electrifying as always, they had some weird performance issues and off-tempo vocals. This wasn’t a big deal unless you were near the stage and paying attention – the music was great despite the hiccups and the crowd enjoyed the duo’s set.

The other EDM set that created a buzz was Duck Sauce. The irreverent duo played Saturday afternoon, bouncing between dance tracks and more hypnotic singles like ‘Big Bad Wolf’. As they’ve been doing all this year, they had duck bills for the audience to wear, go-go dancers gone bad, and their marque massive inflatable duck mascot.


Credit: Film Magin

Credit: Film Magin

Tycho, Boyz Noise and Gold Panda were also strong, and I’m guaranteeing we’ll see more EDM at Outside Lands next year.

For those interested in other music, you definitely won’t be disappointed. I spent about half my time watching rock and hip-hop and didn’t regret it.

The Killers, who closed the festival, absolutely crushed their 2-hour set. They played mostly from their catalogue of hits but covered both Creedence Clearwater Revival and Otis Redding as an ode to the Bay Area.

Kanye opened the festival Friday night and was strangely erratic. While the music was good (this was part of the Yeezus tour), he spent a long time auto-tuning on about Kim and ranting on how the media portrays him, which seemed old and overplayed. When he wasn’t ego-tripping, though, the music was really strong and got the crowd bouncing. He offered at least one song per album, providing a nice compilation of his stellar career.

One newer group that impressed was Haim. The triple-threat, rock n’ roll sister act played a strong set on Saturday. Other outstanding sets I saw were Spoon, The Flaming Lips, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who performed with bravado Saturday night, playing until their mics were cut by the festival.

The Setting

Outside Lands does not feel like your typical summer festival. Due to San Francisco’s uniquely cold summers, the festival is mostly in the 60’s-70’s. The sky swings between clouds and sun but never gets hot, so It’s a cool and comfortable escape in August.

Because of this, the festival is much more laidback than California’s other gem – Coachella. The festival isn’t about fashion, selfies, and celeb-sightings. Instead, people are in comfortable layers, lounging on the grass eating the very hipster food-truck fare and enjoying great music.

The festival is hosted in an amazing spot – Golden Gate Park. It’s a huge urban park, and the festival feels like it’s being held in the redwood forests, which makes for a really fun and trippy experience. The venue is especially great at night, when the stage lights and lasers cut through the trees.

Credit: Mark Fong

Credit: Mark Fong

The Food

The organizers of Outside Lands make a special effort to curate food and drink at the festival and have pioneered three different tents – Winelands, Beerlands, and Cheeselands. Each of these foodie spots includes tasting and flights, which was a blast. I had a Northeast beer flight with three delicious IPAs, two different wine tastings from California and Nevada and a smattering of cheeses. If you identify as a foodie, you can take a break between sets and grab some stellar food at the festival.

Should You Go to Outside Lands?

Outside Lands is decidedly a chill festival. It is the cooler, more hippy, more laidback cousin of Coachella. You can go and hang out with friends, eat great food, enjoy comfortable weather and see some great music. It’s got a strong EDM line-up, but an equally top-tier rock and hip-hop showing. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to see more top-tier EDM artists. It’s a lot of fun.

With good food, a fun atmosphere in the forest, and a chilled-out vibe its a fantastic way to spend August and listen to some great music before the fall EDM season starts.

Credit: Film Magic

Credit: Film Magic

Written by Greg Buckner



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