Review of Day Two at Outside Lands Festival 2012

08/13/2012

The previous day’s excitement hadn’t worn off, as I arrived early for day two of Outside Lands. Starting off with Tame Impala, led by Kevin Parker’s fuzzed out guitar and woozy vocals, the group sounds similar to the Beatles later work. Like an acid trip, sonically wavering from steady melodic revving, before lifting into euphoric guitar distortions, their set was captivating, mind-altering and awesome. Even the weather seemed to agree as the fog thinned in spots, creating angelic glimmers of the sun.

When their set finished, and yes, I stayed until the very end, I made my way to Father John Misty. As you might recall, our writer Eve Cohen was quite smitten with J Tillman’s ‘new’ project. The 60s rock and country twinge wasn’t for me. I’ve never been a fan of Gibson Les Paul’s notable, which guided each song.

For the first time as I made my way to the Alabama Shakes, I walked with the crowd, only later to discovered this was the preliminary indicator that I was entering one of the largest crowds of the festival. Situated at the bottom of a short hill, if you weren’t close to the Sutro Stage or on the adjacent hill, you could only see the back of peoples’ heads. (TVs Outside Lands, TVs please.) Fortunately, you don’t have to see Brittany Howard to hear her soulful vocals carry clearly over the crowd. Their performance of “Hold On” and “You Ain’t Alone” sounded identical to their recordings, eschewing any doubt of the group’s talent.

Shuttling through the crowd, I caught the end of Explosions in The Sky. Truly orchestral, each song was a mathematical layering of parts that crescendoed into a sonic combustion. The texture and rhythmic complexities created impressionistic landscapes that were enjoyable even from a distant listen or close exploration.

At the set’s close, I journeyed to the opposite stage to catch Passion Pit. Perched upon the left hill, I watched as the crowd amassed. Having heard skepticism of Michael Angelakos performances, I wondered if things had changed. They hadn’t. Michael Angelakos can’t sing–live. His voice run through a vocoder is great, but live he can’t hit the high notes of “Sleepyhead” or “The Reeling.” For most people, including myself, that didn’t stop them from waving their hands and enjoying the synth wave bursting from the speakers washing over the crowd. For the record though, Michael Angelakos can’t sing as well as his records make him sound. He’s a highly talented musician, no disrespect–but I wouldn’t advise paying to see him live.

Around this time the cold settled in and the burst of flames from Metallica on the far side weren’t exciting enough to keep me any longer.