10+ Bands Not To Miss At Outside Lands

Updated: Aug 05, 2016 10:17
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So against your better judgement, you’ve decided to postpone doing laundry for yet another week and you’re going to Outside Lands instead. As usual, the festival has done a stellar job of pulling in headliners. But they’ve also offered enough variety to guarantee that you and your friends will argue at least once – if not more – about what stage to hit next. In case you want to add one more opinion about what to see, here’s mine.


I know you’re all excited to go crazy at LCD Sound System, but I’m calling it right now: Vulfpeck is going to inspire the best, or at least most soulful, dance party of the weekend. This funk band founded at the University of Michigan has a sound that is equal parts catchy and complex, which Lord knows you’re not going to get that at Miike Snow. Nothing against Miike Snow, but if you’re looking for serious music chops, this is where it’s at.

Once you’re ready to be wooed into a festival state of mind, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is the band to take you there. Literally, I’m listening as I’m writing this, and it’s almost hurting my body not to tap my foot or sway along with these rootsy, bluesy, old time rock n rolly, feel-good folks. If you want to start the festival with a smile on your face, this is where to go.

And of course, in case you haven’t heard, LCD Soundsystem is reunited and back on tour! This show might be your last chance to see them! Ever! Or at least your first chance to see them in a while. Either way, if you’re any kind of fan, you’re probably want to shove your way into the massive crowd and dance yrself clean.

If you’re not going for the obvious headliner, then first of all, thank you for making more room for the rest of us. Second of all, you have a great alternate option in J. Cole, whose lyrical rap songs will create a more chill, but equally compelling vibe. Put differently: if you’re feeling less ragey and more mellow, go to this show and prepare to have your mind blown in a very understated way.


Xavier Dphrepaulezz, who goes by the stage name Fantastic Negrito, would have been one of the top 10 bands to see last year, but unfortunately his set got canceled after he and members of his band were detained by the police for allegedly scalping VIP wristbands. His latest album, “Last Days of Oakland, is a genre-defying exploration of the Bay Area’s socioeconomic tensions – but also a testament to its soulful roots and creativity tenacity. This is a rare chance to support local musicians while attending the city’s most mainstream music event.

Enough with all that heavy stuff. If you’re looking for solid afternoon dance party but can’t stand the idea of just watching someone push buttons on a computer (yeah, I went there, #sorrynotsorry), Big Grams is your ticket. Personally, I’ve been hooked on the Big Boi/Phantogram collaboration since before it had an official name. I would happily see either of them independently, so I don’t think you can wrong with catching them together.

One of my favorite things about Outside Lands is how Golden Gate Park starts looking like something out of a fairy tale So, while I try not to use the word “magical” too often (unless I’m being ironic), I’ve been a fan of Sufjan Stevens for years and I think his set might be…magical.  And f you like magic but not Sufjan, my runner up for the “magical” slot is Lord Huron.

Finally, see Radiohead. Even if you’re not an uber fan and are unwilling to pretend to be an uber fan to seem socially acceptable, just go for the experience of being surrounded by thousands of uber fans. These people are not fucking around.


If you’re feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Sunday morning, then a) I’m sorry you chose to watch Radiohead sober and b) you should get to the park early and catch Kamasi Washington at noon. If you’re not into jazz, you may not have heard of him, but this tremendous saxophonist has collaborated with some of your favorite artists over the years, most recently, contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Even if you did party hard the night before, this set is going to be the sweetest way to enjoy your first beer and ease into the day.

It’s gonna be a long day, so get a little pick-me-up with Snakeships, an electro/R&B duo who will ensure you get your synthesizer fix. This should be a fun, mellow dance session, plus when you hear the lyrics “all my friends all wasted” you’ll feel like the song was written just for you.

At some point, you’re going to want a break from all hipsters, 22-year old rollers, and people who take themselves too seriously. It turns out that the only place you’re guaranteed that sweet reprise is in the audience at Third Eye Blind. Bonus: I think when we’re all together in the middle of Golden Gate Park screaming the lyrics to the one song we all know, it’s going to be at best, memorably spiritual and at worst, memorably hilarious.

If you actually took my advice and went to see Third Eye Blind, you can redeem your credibility by staying put at the Lands End stage and waiting for the legitimately talented, up and coming, Chance the Rapper to take the stage. His 2016 mixtape “Coloring Book” was an immediate success, and pulls in variety of musical influences and instruments. It’s pretty compelling through headphones and should be even better to share with a crowd.

Finally, if you’re like me, you’ll plan on leaving early to avoid insane crowds. But inevitably, some fun-loving free spirit will convince you that seeing Lionel Richie will change your life. I can’t tell you what to do here, but I’m a big fan of taking advice of fun-loving free spirits at music festivals…

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Rachel Balik - Low-Brow Luminary

Rachel Balik - Low-Brow Luminary

Rachel has explored a number of badly paying jobs over the years, including nanny, off-Broadway production assistant, philosophy grad student, journalist, teacher and assistant at a yoga studio. She is now in her best paying job as a tech marketer, but retains her broke cred by earning a fraction of what most 23-year-old male engineers do.