As the summer sun fades, so too does the music lover’s favorite time of year, otherwise known as Festival Season. Over the weekend, the Outside Lands fest in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park wrapped up a season of killer music and even brought in Sir Paul McCartney to summon some of those beautiful Summer of Love vibes. While the headliners may have been seriously lacking in the lady department, some of our favorite girlies dominated the festival during the day. Boxx Magazine tracked down the best of the fest just for you and included some of our Male Boxx favorites, too. ‘Til next year…
Kicking off the weekend was Naia Kete. Appropriately bedecked in full hippie garb and dreads, Kete made her intentions known soon into her set: “I would like to be a strong representation of women in reggae music.” Mission accomplished.
Kete, who also played Bonnaroo earlier this summer, took the stage with virtually no audience and left with a strong crowd cheering for more. Opening with the apropos “Hope You Like What You See,” Kete’s silky smooth vocals and bubbly melodies were the perfect opener for the Outside Lands festivities. The ultra chill singer further proved her girl power during her short set by belting out her tunes over a cut-out mic to the delight of onlookers.
Yep, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Watch this band. With the gypsy sensibilities of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and the Americana/roots rock allure of The Band, Houndmouth has been playing small stages all along the festival circuit this summer, but are sure to be movin’ on up George Jefferson style in no time. Wailing guitars, seriously perfect harmonizing and sweet southern accents make these dixies a Boxx festival favorite. Keyboardist/vocalist Katie Toupin ripped through the lonesome traveler ballad “Houston Train” with incendiary passion. Overheard during the set was one impressed onlooker reminding a friend, “In ten years, you’re gonna be like, ‘I saw them back when…’”
Chicagoans Wild Belle took the stage Friday afternoon donned in stark white suits that Barry Gibb himself would have envied. The stylish sibling duo Natalie and Elliot Bergman brought a little bit of sunshine to the foggy San Francisco setting with California-ready, reggae-meets-psychedelic-pop tunes that had the crowd dancing and singing along from the start. The group seamlessly transitioned from fusion pop into jams that could only be described as borderline chillwave. It’s no surprise that WB has been killin’ it at the festival game with their genre-eluding leisurely sound, they’ve found their niche among fans who love a little bit of everything.
While some people were camping out for a spot to see The National become inundated with yet another surprise Bob Weir cameo, British trio Daughter was getting their shoegaze on at the Panhandle Stage. Subtle, beautiful and reminiscent of early 2000s indie pop, Elena Tonra and company wooed the crowd with wonderfully chill songs like “Youth.” The group has found some minor success with songs appearing on various teen melodramas (Skins, Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries, etc.), but it’s their live performance that is sure to give them staying power. In a sea of feather-clad pseudo bohemians, Tonra repeatedly knocked out songs in a simple black boatneck, proving that festivals are not—as some blogs may have you believe—all about the flower crowns and tribal print shorts. As charmingly grateful as they are talented, Daughter are sure to be a favorite among those still pining over their Bright Eyes and Broken Social Scene records.
Chic featuring Nile Rodgers
Mere days before the festival, promoters announced that main stager D’Angelo had cancelled his set due to a medical emergency and that ‘70s disco legends Chic would be taking his place. Everyone had a good chuckle. Then they watched the show and shut the hell up. Chic took the reigns of the Sutro Stage Friday night to a crowd that quickly turned into the weekend’s very best dance party. Tighter than ever and looking fly in coordinating white stage garb, Chic not only pleased with their own massive hits, such as “Le Freak” and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” but also with the songs they helped make into hits for others. From the obvious ‘70s hits like “I’m Coming Out” and “We Are Family” to the lesser known Chic associations like David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” the group’s hour-long set was, in fact, solid gold.
Bridget Everett & The Tender Moments
Saturday afternoon kicked off with a hearty spray of chardonnay directly from Bridget Everett’s wildly inappropriate mouth over at The Barbary Comedy Tent. In a cabaret-styled musical performance riddled with audience manhandling, demands to Instagram her lady bits and several moments that one 15-year-old boy in the audience will likely never forget (including a serenade of “Just The Tip”), Everett shimmied her way into the slightly terrified hearts of a tiny, albeit enthralled audience. Completely unpredictable and wildly hysterical, Everett—who is actually quite the singer—took no issue singing about tits, grabbing audience tits and flashing her own tits… among other things. The comedian and her band were far and away one of the most overlooked acts Saturday, that is if you don’t mind a little wine and boob at 12 in the afternoon.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs stole the show Saturday, led by certified badass Karen O who took to the stage clad in a metallic purple suit and pharaoh/pope hat that provided the perfect nod to opener “Sacrilege.” One of the only females to perform on the main stage all weekend, Karen O left no minute of the band’s set unoccupied of pure entertainment. Between shoving the microphone in her mouth and down her pants in true iconic style, Karen passed the mic through the crowd, orchestrating a massive sing along to hits “Heads Will Roll” and “Maps.” With a monstrous eyeball bouncing around the audience, the band dedicated “Despair” to “fans who know the words” before making way for headliners Nine Inch Nails.
Kopecky Family Band
Nashvillians Kopecky Family Band provided the first zealous performance of Sunday’s lineup. With a looming grey sky and exhausted crowd slowly funneling in, the sheer amount of enthusiastic participation happening at the Kopecky tent was pretty impressive. For anyone who couldn’t quite place their sound at first, the band busted out one spot-on cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” that left no question about the band’s influences. Blaring on a set of trumpets with guitars still strapped in place while laying down dueling male/female vocals a la Stars made the Kopecky Family Band an instant Sunday favorite.
If you don’t already have an epic friend crush on Deap Vally, prepare yourself to get one. The guitarist/drummer duo has all the rocker babe passion of Heart with a sweet punk rock attitude to boot. Wailing vocals and distorted guitar left love struck fanboys in the audience screaming for more. Singer Lindsey Troy’s vocals took a growling Grace Potter turn on “Ain’t Fair” before slowing it down for a rare performance of “Six Feet Under.”
British R&B/pop star Emeli Sandé took the stage ten minutes late, but wasted no time getting right into her song “Heaven” backed by two soulful singers. While the songstress sported the same hot ‘do that Miley has been working lately, no twerking or uncomfortable coke references were to be found on Sandé’s stage. Imagine, a pop singer getting by on her talent to belt out ballads like “My Kind of Love” instead of cheap gimmicks. Sandé’s set was a breath of fresh air to any pop lover fed up with the obnoxious world of Top 40.
MS MR might look like they walked straight out of a Deee Lite video, but their sound goes far and the beyond the ‘90s one-hit wonders. Singer Lizzy Plapinger provides feminine Grace Slick-esque vocals on a psychedelic backdrop that stirs up a sound evocative of Florence and the Machine. Despite a completely craptastic timeslot (going head-to-head with Vampire Weekend, Willie Nelson and Matt & Kim), the band scrounged up a decent-sized crowd that loved every second of the vivacious act and their onstage dance-offs to poppy art jams like “Fantasy.”
Male Boxx Stars!
Seventy-one and spry as a ever, Paul McCartney not only had all of Golden Gate Park downright choked up for most of the night but also likely considering giving up the bacon-stuffed-everything offered by food vendors. No seriously, if you watched Paul and didn’t a.) cry juuuuust a little during your favorite Beatles song or b.) start thinking that there really might be something to this not eating meat thing, you weren’t paying attention. The legend powered through three-effing-hours of nothing but hit songs from The Beatles, Wings and his own solo career, a set list that every single person innately knew word-for-word. When two young ladies holding signs begging for tattooable autographs got plucked from the audience for an impromptu signing, their time on stage was largely spent shaking and sobbing. Not a soul could blame them. There’s something to be said about a man who can garner fan girl reactions long past his days of matching suits and shaggy hair.
Gary Clark, Jr.
Rock ‘n roll dreamboat Gary Clark, Jr. made his way to the Lands End Stage Saturday afternoon for one of the most sought -after sets of the weekend. Positively shredding through the 50-minute show, Clark provided hot licks and tasty vocals while summoning the spirits of Havens, Hendrix and other guitar gods before him. There were literally no words necessary for the large majority of the set, which was spent jamming Texas blues instrumentals alongside his red-hot band.
Hall & Oates
You heard us: Hall and MFing Oates. The ‘80s super duo jammed out to an hour of nothin’ but the hits. Originally half shrouded in irony, the crowd quickly let go of whatever Lite FM inhibitions they had and got down to hits like “Maneater,” “Sara Smile” and “Family Man” before a rare midday encore of “You Make My Dreams” and “Rich Girl.” Complete with those epic manes and mustaches and one jazzy sax player, Daryl Hall and John Oates proved they could still drive moms wild with their bluesy breakdowns. Bonus points to Daryl Hall for reppin’ his show “Live From Daryl’s House” extra hard in an official T-shirt, guitar strap and sticker on his keyboard.