Vic Mensa, Roc Nation’s Prodigy, Rocks the Bay


The Social Hall in SF is a small and quaint joint but on Friday night there was nothing quaint about it. Joey Purp and headliner, Vic Mensa, shook the building in front of highly energetic and enthusiastic fans.

Mensa’s tour mate, Joey Purp, a Chicago native himself, opened the night and set the stage for what was about to come. Purp revealed that it was his first time in San Francisco that night, which was surprising considering many fans were already singing back his songs. He definitely left an impact on the fans that night as he performed songs off of his mixtape iiiDrops. His performance got the crowd in the right mood for the fast paced performance of Mensa that was foreshadowed.

As soon as Mensa hit the stage the crowd was hungry ready for Mensa to feed them whatever he had. He started off with “16 Shots” off his EP There’s Alot Going On, the main emphasis of the night. The song focuses around the epidemic of police brutality in America. The lyrics give you a vivid description of what it’s like to grow up in the streets of Chicago as a young black male dealing with the issue of police harassment. The heavy bass line made for a great opening song and had the entire crowd singing and jumping. Read More

5 Amazing Veggie Eats at Outside Lands 2016


This weekend marked another successful Outside Lands complete with its veritable buffet of entertainment, food, and drink options. With so many great vegetarian foods to choose from, this year I challenged myself to find selections I could “ veganize” too. The task turned out to be less of an undertaking than I assumed, which should come as no surprise given San Francisco’s reputation as one of the most veggie-friendly foodie cities around. The real question was whether my finds would be as indulgent and satisfying as any of the other fried, cheesy, or sugary vegetarian goodies that Outside Lands’ food vendors offer—especially after throwing back a few beers. Here aremy top 5 veggie-friendly (and sometimes vegan) eats that didn’t disappoint:

1. The Chairman – Baked or steamed tofu bao


The food highlight of my weekend came packaged in these delicious tofu-filled buns, which come baked or steam. Naturally I tried both. The Chairman food truck isn’t new to the Outside Lands scene and I’ve spotted it at other events around the Bay Area, but I’ve always been deterred by the long lines. In a moment of festival clarity, I finally decided to make it my first food stop on Sunday and was blown away by how flavorful these buns were. The miso cured tofu came with a crispy coating and was complemented by a tofu mayo and baby choy-sum. The smaller, steamed tofu bao is a great handheld snack and perfect if you are craving a pillowy, slightly sweet bun. The bigger, baked tofu bao offers a crispier texture thanks to its toasted buns and holds up as a meal on its own. Next time I won’t be hesitating to get in line.

2. The Little Chihuahua Fried Plantain and Black Bean Burrito

I have to confess that I’ve tried this burrito once before when I lived closer to The Little Chihuahua’s location in the Lower Haight and I wasn’t its biggest fan. This time I opted for the vegan version and was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed it in comparison to its vegetarian brother. In addition to the fried plantains and black beans, this vegan burrito came with roasted red bell peppers, Mexican rice, smoky chile salsa, pico de gallo, and fresh onion and cilantro. This was the ideal food to fortify me before settling in for a long stint at the Twin Peaks stage. It was filling without feeling too heavy and I think I’ll be sticking with the vegan option in the future.

3. Itani Ramen


New to Outside Lands this year was Oakland-based Itani Ramen. I’m not usually one to pick soups or liquids other than beer or wine at music festivals, but Saturday’s weather was so cold I had to warm up. A hot cup of house made ramen noodles in a not-too-salty miso veggie broth did the trick. Itani Ramen’s vegetarian option also included yu choi spinach, corn, green onion, nori, bean sprouts, and fennel oil. My only regret is that I neglected to grab a spoon so my limited chopstick skills made it more challenging to enjoy the ramen’s toppings in a graceful way. However, quickly gulping down the broth proved to be a useful strategy in consuming my ramen while it was still hot. Never underestimate the chilly temperature that Karl the Fog brings with him to the festival!

4. Monk’s Kettle Veggie Sausage


Positioned just outside of Beer Lands, I was delighted to find that Monk’s Kettle offered a veggie sausage to go along with my craft IPA. Sausage and beer is a match made in heaven, even in the vegetarian and vegan worlds. The potato-based veggie sausage from Monk’s Kettle is a delicious vegan option on its own, but the non-vegan, soft torpedo roll it comes in is pretty tough to resist. In the end I ate the combo as is with heaps of tangy sauerkraut and grainy, spicy mustard—a glob of ketchup was my festival companion’s bewildering addition—but you can always forego the roll and save your carb points for another craft beer.

5. Azalina’s Malaysian Peanut Sauce Tofu Braised Nachos


It’s not quite a festival without some form of nachos so when I discovered Azalina’s offered a vegan option I was curious to see how they’d stand up to the cheesy variety. The Malaysian tofu nachos offered an unexpectedly satisfying and interesting twist that didn’t leave me wanting for cheese. The star of these nachos was of course the tofu, braised in Azalina’s classic peanut sauce, but the pickled vegetables were an excellent crunchy addition. Other great finds from this year’s food search included the smoked pulled jackfruit sandwich and coleslaw from Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking, the vegetarian kamikaze fries from Koja Kitchen, and the vegan empanada from Sabores del Sur. Cheers to another year of delicious veggie-friendly eats!

The Star-Crossed Sounds of HÆLOS


“It’s past everyone’s bedtime, yeah?” Arthur Delaney’s question was probably only a half joke, as it wasn’t until 11:30 that HÆLOS took the stage at Rickshaw Stop on the eve of their Outside Lands appearance. There was a smattering of hoots and cheers when Arthur’s vocal counterpoint Lotti Bernardout asked if anyone had been at the festival earlier in the day. You have to admire the endurance of those individuals who after a full day of braving the elements in Golden Gate Park found the motivation to head to a late set. That said, the late hour, the fog machine atmosphere, and the moody yet danceable vibes provided the perfect backdrop for a comedown after the days festivities.

HÆLOS have that comedown in their DNA. Their music calls to mind a host of stylistic predecessors and contemporaries (Portishead, Massive Attack, and the xx to name a few), yet their individual identity cuts through, and protects them from being labeled as derivative. The genre they have dubbed “Dark Euphoria” simultaneously produces an agonizing tenderness and irresistible rhythm. The interwoven somber moods and euphoric beats result in a cinematic quality. Images of unrequited love, or an embrace between star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy permeate the air around HÆLOS.

HÆLOS live performance was introduced by same spoken word sample that appears on the bands full-length debut Full Circle. The sample features audio of philosopher Alan Watts speaking about the “Spectrum of love” in which he states, “We know that from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as naturally as the sun gives out heat. We would like to be like that…” The quote serves as a type of aesthetic manifesto for Dark Euphoria, as it states intent while pointing to a perceived deficiency. With the scene set by this introduction the band eased into a showcase of tracks from their first major release.

To reproduce the mood and layered quality found on Full Circle the core trio of HÆLOS (Delaney, Bernardout and Dom Goldsmith) brought two drummers and a guitarist on the road. The set was polished, and the band’s ability to replicate the rich textures and harmonies from the record was uncanny. The additional decibel levels provided at the concert downplayed the subdued nature of the tracks and emphasized the club rhythms which reside at their core. This effect was most apparent in the set’s closing one-two punch of “Earth Not Above” and “Oracle” which had the crowd ready for more.

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5 Things to Know About Cocktail Magic, Outside Land’s Newest Way to Catch a Buzz


Every year Ranger Dave and the Outside Lands folk add something unique to the festival. In the past, for example, we have seen the addition of mainstays like Choco Lands and the GastroMagic Stage. This year we get the gift of classy booze in the form of Cocktail Magic, an imaginative way to showcase some of the best cocktails in the Bay.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 11.08.49 AMCocktail Magic will be located opposite of Choco Lands on the north side of the festival in the trees.

There is so much happening at every moment during Outside Lands, so why should you make time for Cocktail Magic? We put together five points to help you make your decision:

  1. There will be actual magic at Cocktail Magic. While the emphasis is obviously on the cocktails, visitors will also be treated to some sleight of hand and boozy illusions. I’m not sure exactly what to expect, but we know that magician/illusionists Jon Armstrong, Simon Coronel and Karl Koppertop will have some tricks up their sleeves.
  2. Some of the Bay Area’s best cocktail bars will be on hand showing off their creations. The participants are 15 ROMOLO, ELIXIR, FORGERY, PRIZEFIGHTER and TRICK DOG, with each serving two of their favorite cocktails. With temperatures only expected to reach the 60s, lets hope a couple of the bars choose to make some delicious hot toddys.
  3. These are the best drinks money can’t buy. For some reason you can’t pay for drinks at Cocktail Land unless you register your wristband and put “bison bucks” on your wrist. So if you haven’t put any money on your wristband, this might be a great time to do so. While this is a bit of a pain, at least you won’t have to worry about losing your cash. More info here.
  4. Apparently the bars and stage setup were designed by David Korins Design, who also designed the set for the musical Hamilton. I am going to go ahead and confirm an exclusive performance of Hamilton at the Cocktail Magic stage this year.
  5. The centerpiece of Cocktail Magic is the mysterious “Cocktail King.” This nine foot tall art installation comes equipped with glowing neon and a cocktail shaker. I predict this edifice will have his own creepy cult following by Sunday.

Check out Cocktail Magic this weekend and let us know what you think.

OSL Night Show: Don’t Miss Vic Mensa @ SF Social Hall August 5th


Whether you’re a hip-hop head or you just dabble in the genre, you’re not going to want to miss Vic Mensa at Social Hall on Friday night. This is a late show, so even if you’re spending the day at Outside Lands Music Festival, head on over afterward for a night cap.

Being from the Bay Area, I was not too familiar with Chicago native Vic Mensa. It wasn’t until he was featured in Kanye West’s song “Wolves” that dropped in February of this year that he fully caught my attention. His voice, above all else, is what really tied the song together. It’s as if Mensa embodied the soul of the song and became the ‘wolf.’

After hearing “Wolves,” I scoured the Internet for more Mensa and found his 2013 mixtape, INNANETAPE. The mixtape just reassured what I already knew about his talents as well as showcased his depth as an artist. Mensa can not only sing and freestyle bars straight off the top, but he is also a brilliant, gifted writer.

Mensa can carry an entire song just with his voice. This is evident by his song “Down on My Luck,” where not once in the entirety of the song does Mensa switch up the vocals and go into rapping. His freestyles are unreal with the passion he puts into them. He spits with raw emotion, his body in constant motion and appears to be caught in an array of imagery in his own mind.

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The National Showcase Fresh Music at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre


The National’s unreleased seventh studio album is getting closer to release, as evidenced by their July 29th set at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. The band performed six new songs, while also focusing on material from albums High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, with a few songs from Boxer, and Alligator. The titles of the new material are temporary, as the band remarked that frontman Matt Berninger changes them every day.

The atmosphere of the night was very relaxed. The sold-out crowd consisted of families, college students, and couples young and old. Berninger kept things light with jokes in between songs, poking fun at their inability to settle on song titles. All in attendance enjoyed a mellow evening together and got a preview of what’s coming next for The National.

Most of the new songs were slower songs with ethereal guitars that backed Berninger’s signature baritone vocals. The way Berninger blends talking with singing, the steady and simplistic drumbeat, the breathing guitars were all there in the new tracks. The National didn’t make any drastic leaps in musical progression. It seems they are sticking with what works for them. Slow, passionate songs about love, heartbreak, anxiety, and self-doubt performed in a very accessible way. Fans will find these new tracks to be fresh but familiar, and these familiarities are what draw so many people to the band.

Setlist: Read More

Noise Pop and Pop-Up Magazine Team Up for The Golden State Record 9/30 at Berkeley Greek Theatre


Pop-Up Magazine has consistently put on some of my favorite evenings over the past few years. They blend speakers, video, music and other mediums into one-off events that can only be experienced live. I was excited to see that Pop-Up is going big in a whole new partnership with Noise Pop to put on a show at the beautiful Berkeley Greek Theatre.

Like all Pop-Up events, you never know exactly what you will see before it happens live. In the past, I’ve seen Beck perform music from his book of sheet music and original works created by Thao Nguyen just for Pop-Up. The press release for the event gives us some hints on what to expect:
“Like past Pop-Up Magazine shows, the evening will feature stunning photography, film, radio, animation, and an original musical score, all mixed together and performed live onstage by a big cast of fascinating people. “The Golden State Record,” inspired in part by The Golden Record, which was launched into deep space by NASA and Carl Sagan in 1977, will celebrate and explore ideas and culture of California and the West today through sound and music. The show won’t be recorded; nothing will go online.”

Tickets are on sale now, and this event will sell out. I suggest you jump on it.


Woodsist Festival Relocates to Point Reyes Due to Soberanes Fire Near Big Sur


The 7th annual Woodsist Festival, set to be held in the Loma Vista Gardens in Big Sur, has announced it will be relocating the festival due to the raging wildfires in Big Sur that began last Friday. Over 300 people have been evacuated from the area so far, and the blaze has left 20 houses and two buildings destroyed in its wake.

The two-day, camping festival includes acts like Woods, Gun Outfit, Alex Bleeker (of Real Estate), and more. Here is a statement that Woodsist and (((folkYEAH!))) recently released:

“Due to the recent wild Soberanes Fire in Big Sur we are moving this year’s WOODSIST FEST to Point Reyes, CA. The State Parks in Big Sur are closing as of today. Sadly, it will simply be unsafe for us to host the fest in Big Sur this year. Much thought went into this decision but ultimately it is the right thing to do as we send our collective prayers to the community of Big Sur at this very difficult time.

The new Fest site at Love Field in Point Reyes will be wonderful and ALL attendees are now able to camp on site as part of their ticket purchase. We are so excited to save the fest and present it to you in this new location. It is a very special spot. Our hearts and prayers remain with the community of Big Sur during this very scary time. We are working on setting up a relief fund at the new Point Reyes site for Big Sur donations.”

Additional donations can be made by phone to (831) 375-9715 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by mailing a check to the foundation at 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940, Attention: Soberanes Fire Fund or online here.

Preview: Outside Lands Food and Summer Pairings


Much like San Francisco’s food scene, there are always too many delectable food and drinks options at Outside Lands. (Why must we choose!) Salivating, wide-eyed and hungry, we read through this year’s lineup and needless to say, we were forced to call Sprig to address our growing appetite. From scrumptious BBQ meat and beer pairings to a four-course “Forest Feast” meal, there’s plenty of reasons to come to Outside Lands with an appetite and indulge ’til you bulge. For a tease and instant hunger craving, check out the full Outside Lands Food list.

For those that can’t wait until the festival — because, damn it, you’ve got to eat — Outside Lands Summer Pairing , a series of pop-up food events that preview the festival’s music with delightful food pairings, are under way across the Bay Area. Here are a few of our favorites that you should consider: Read More

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