Outside Lands: The Music

Even though flight delays meant I only had 2.5 days at Outside Lands instead of the full 3, I still saw what felt like more music than I typically do at a festival. Here are some highlights.

Counting Crows
To be honest, I’m not really a Counting Crows fan. My friend and I spent the whole set laughing at the ridiculousness of Adam Duritz’s famous and ridiculous hair, saying it looked fake. Shortly after the festival we found out that a) he shaved his head and b) his dreads were extensions. EXTENSIONS. Stop it.

Flying Lotus
I do not understand Flying Lotus, and I cannot express my thoughts on his work more clearly than I already did in this blog post from 2 years ago.  I was really excited for this set, but the same element of weirdness that made me love his performance 2 years ago just did not connect with me this time around. I still think he’s brilliant but I could not get on his wavelength at Outside Lands.

NoMBe
I wish I remembered how I started listening to this guy. His music is so mellow and soulful but somehow actually felt very energetic at the same time? I was so glad I made it to the festival grounds super early for his Saturday set; it was perfect for a sunny festival afternoon.

Goldfish
This South African duo does not disappoint. They played inside the Heineken House, an indoor stage that was basically like a mini club, complete with a long wait to get inside. But it was 100% worth the 30 minutes in line because once inside, it was surprisingly not crowded, and had this amazing setup where the DJs played on a rotating stage in the center of the room. It was so incredible to be in this environment where everyone was dancing like crazy and there were fog machines and amazing house music complete with live sax and bass.

Childish Gambino
I struggle to find words to describe this set except to say that it just felt…special. I don’t really listen to Childish Gambino and was only planning on staying for about 20 minutes, but he has this incredible stage presence that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re witnessing something truly legendary. I ended up staying for about 40 minutes, then leaving to go see RL Grime, and then after half an hour at RL Grime I had to come back to Gambino. What I will also say about him is that I’ve never seen someone with such intensity behind their eyes. Every time the camera showed a close-up of him he just looked straight up crazy like a wild animal about to attack. It was honestly terrifying but also intriguing. I spent a long time trying to find a photo of this look but failed. How he looks in the video for This Is America is a pretty accurate representation though of how he looked during the entire Outside Lands set.

Nahko and Medicine for the People
This is one of those artists that I had heard about for years and years and knew that many of my friends liked them but I had never really paid much attention. I was truly blown away by the funkiness and overall feel good attitude this set brought.

Puddles Pity Party
Oh my goodness, what a treat this was. Puddles is a super tall clown who dresses all in white and does a combo comedy routine and amazing covers of popular songs. His covers range from Celine Dion to Sia to Metallica and his antics were cracking up the entire audience of the little indoor stage where he was performing. I am so so so glad my friend suggested we go to this.

The Funk Hunters
Was this the best set of the festival? Quite possibly. These guys crush it every time and the crowd was the best of the whole weekend. Everyone was dancing like nobody was watching and it was just pure joy. My friend said she was going to join me at this set for only a few minutes before heading over to see Anderson.Paak but she ended up staying the whole time.

Paul Simon
Much like my friend was planning on leaving the Funk Hunters for Anderson.Paak and couldn’t, I was planning on leaving Paul Simon for Kygo and could not. Even though I had seen Paul Simon live before I did not anticipate being as completely enthralled with this set as I was. The music is much more low energy compared to the other headliners, Twenty One Pilots and Childish Gambino, but it was equally incredible. It felt like the perfect close to the festival. He brought out Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead for a duet on “The Boxer” and people absolutely lost their minds.

Sets I Missed
This is a new section I’m adding to my festival recaps. It feels relevant to mention which artists I wanted to see but didn’t make it to because of conflicts or whatever other reason.

  • Wax Motif – The last time I saw Wax Motif was 5 years ago at a series of parties at a Brooklyn spa where you walked in the door, they gave you flip flops and a robe, and you could alternate between dancing around in your robe and going in the hot tub. It was the strangest thing ever. I didn’t make it to the festival in time on Friday to catch Wax Motif and I don’t think it would have been the same anyway.
  • Toro Y Moi – he is everywhere and nowhere. Just kidding, he’s actually everywhere and I just never see him. One day though, I will. That one day might be a week from today if I snag a ticket to Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival.
  • Kygo – as mentioned, I couldn’t leave Paul Simon to go to this set. I love tropical house and didn’t really think Kygo was doing much these days until I saw him on the lineup. I do not regret skipping this. There will be other tropical house in my future.

Outside Lands was the only full festival I went to this summer, which saddens me a little bit but it was so, so wonderful. And with the recent announcement of the return of winter’s Hijinx Festival in Philadelphia, festival season is never truly over.

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Shows I Missed: January 2018

I almost never write these posts anymore because I always make a point of seeing the ABSOLUTELY-MUST-SEE shows and I just don’t have the energy to get so upset when I miss the other ones. But every so often I do get at least kind of bummed about having to skip a show.

In January I really wanted to see Too Many Zooz, a local NYC band that seems to play Brooklyn Bowl twice a year now (so…they’ll be back). I had plans that I couldn’t move and so I had to pass on this one even though there were, surprisingly, Jukely tickets aplenty for it.

Shows I Missed: Camp Bisco

I’m happy to say that I don’t write too many “Shows I Missed” posts anymore. These posts are typically a monthly roundup of the concerts I wanted to attend but, for one reason or another, could not. I’m going to a lot fewer shows than normal these days, so I can’t say exactly why it is that I’m feeling less regret about missing out. Maybe I’m being more strategic about concert attendance and actually making it to the few shows I know I’d be extra sad to miss, or maybe I just care less when I don’t attend things. I suspect it’s a little of column A and a little of column B.

THAT BEING SAID.

I did not allude to this in my Camp Bisco music roundup post, but on the whole I was a bit disappointed not with the quality of music that I saw, but with the quantity. I’ve been to a ton of music festivals yet never before have I left feeling like I missed so many of the sets I was planning on seeing. The reasons for all the missed music are as follows:

  1. Conflicts. So many of my favorites played at the same time. Hard decisions were made.
  2. Rain. One stage at Bisco is covered, so when rain happened, covered sets always took precedence. Even when that covered set wasn’t something I was planning on attending at all.
  3. Early sets. As everyone knows, bigger names tend to perform later in the day, so there aren’t typically many sets I want to see in the early afternoon. Yet Bisco had tons of music I really wanted to see at 12 or 1pm. I could have and should have gone to these, but the long walk from camp to the stages meant I was just too lazy to go, especially since I’d have to walk all the way back after (or spend 12 hours in the festival grounds).
  4. General laziness. Yup.
  5. Various combinations of the above at once.

Here is a sad, sad list of all the music I missed at Camp Bisco.

Nightmares on Wax
Everyone who knows Nightmares on Wax loves Nightmares on Wax. He has this downtempo hip-hop/funk/jazz vibe that is just universally great. I don’t think I spoke to anyone who went to this set, nor do I even remember considering it while at Bisco, which probably means his set conflicted with someone major.

Marvel Years
When someone told me that Marvel Years was on at the same time as Gramatik, I think I audibly “BOOOO”ed. I used to refer to MY as “Pretty Lights Junior,” and while I do think his sound is kind of PL-ish, he’s really come into his own in the last few years. He’s also fantastic live and this was a bummer to the nth degree.

Beats Antique
Beats is a weird, Middle Eastern sounding band with belly dancing and general nonsense (last time I saw them they had a giant inflatable dragon that extended from the stage out into the audience). I actually did make it to the last 10 minutes of this set but it just wasn’t enough.

Goldfish
Out of all the Bisco sets missed by people in my crew, I think the sadness was most universal around Goldfish. It was just too early and too rainy. This duo from South Africa is the danciest and probably the artist I have most succeeded at turning friends into fans.

Manic Focus
Damnit damnit. 2017 should just be unofficially called, “The Summer In Which I Missed Several Manic Focus Sets.” I’ve been on the MF train since relatively early on but for whatever reason I haven’t seen him in…2 years? He has a really unique brand of electro-hip-hop that is allll the fire emojis.

Wax Future
UCH. Wax Future is an electro-funk/soul outfit from Philly and I did not attend this set because it was raining. I don’t really regret this because I get pretty cranky when soggy but I’m generally sad about it anyway. I just want to add to this that despite having a free ticket, I also missed Wax Future when they recently came through Brooklyn Bowl and boo on me for all of this.

Too Many Zooz
This is the set I am most upset to have missed. Especially because I honestly tried to go. Sort of. Too Many Zooz had a super early set and I was about to head there a little late, but right as I was leaving I decided to check the schedule to confirm their set time. I realized that their set was only 40 minutes long instead of the minimum of 60 minutes that LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE GOT, and since they were playing on the far end of the festival grounds and it would have taken me over 20 minutes to get there, I would have only had 5 or so minutes to see them. They’re a brasshouse trio that got their start in the NYC subway system and totally deserve all the fame they have because they have tons of kooky personality.

Anyway. Let this never happen again, okay? Okay.

Shows I MIssed: August 2016

I kicked off August pretty strong with a trip to New Hampshire to see Pretty Lights. It was fantastic, but the following weekend he was back at the majestic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. I was fortunate to make it out to CO for Red Rocks in 2015 and swore I would be there again this year, but alas, it was not in the cards. Getting my PL fix in New Hampshire did not quell the lack of Red Rocks sadness.

As if that wasn’t sad enough, this month I also missed Pretty Lights in Telluride. This was the second year that he did a mini festival in Telly and the second year that I didn’t go. The pictures and videos last year were so beautiful that it honestly took away from my Red Rocks joy because it was clear that Telluride was the superior experience in basically every way. I tried to withdraw from social media during Telly weekend this year so I wouldn’t get too jealous, but I couldn’t help but peep all the pics and videos. A Pretty Lights fam takeover of a gorgeous mountain town? Stop it. If Telly happens next year I WILL BE THERE. Sigh.

Also – if both Jason Derulo and Santigold play in your home city while you’re away in Europe, can you still be sad about it? Answer – not really. Santigold is one of my favs and I have an unabashed love for Jason Derulo after seeing him a few years ago. Both of these artists were in the New York area this month but I happened to be in Wales watching 2 of my friends get married in a castle.

Clearly Wales is the winner here. In theory I’m bummed to have missed both of these but come on. Magical castle wedding! Sorry Santi and Jason. Wales wins.

Shows I Missed: July 2016

While I only had one show that I was devastated to miss this month, it was an entire festival with a killer lineup, so it stings in a major way.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I had an absolute blast at Camp Bisco last year, and I was committed to going again this year but I just couldn’t make all the logistics come together in time.

By not attending Bisco, I missed out on seeing a number of artists who I’ve seen before and loved, like Esseks, Dreamer’s Delight, Late Night Radio, Keys N Krates, Odesza, and more. I also missed out on the chance to see some acts for what would have been the first time – The Polish Ambassador, TroyBoi (who I wrote about for Mix 247 EDM!), and, most devastatingly, Big Grizmatik, the rarely-formed combination of Big Gigantic, GRiZ, and Gramatik.

After returning home from the festival, one of my friends posted on Facebook: “Year 2 of montage mountain saw huge improvements in the security, amount of water stations, and transportation up the mountain. My only critic, They really need to find away to improve the sound quality on the Main stage. Being up front distorts bass and vocals in different ways.” He then went on to praise all the artists that I knew would be incredible. I missed so much.

SIGH.

Shows I Missed: January 2016

SIGH

Usually when I miss a show it’s because I wasn’t available that night, or it was in a faraway state I couldn’t travel to. In a rare occurrence for me, this month I missed a show because I didn’t buy a ticket in time and couldn’t, for the life of me, find a reasonably priced one (unless you consider $100+ for a $40 ticket reasonable, which I do not, you StubHub scalper jerks). Since I didn’t get to see Tipper live, I asked my friend Cody how it was. He said it had “really great music and next level visuals.”

I would expect nothing less from Dave Tipper. Here’s a little YouTube clippy from that night:

I also sadly had to miss Muse this month because I was out of town. I was majorly late to the Muse party but I’m hoping I can catch them live one day before they break up or otherwise decide to stop touring. They’ve been around for over 20 years at this point, so hopefully they can stick around for at least a few more. I did hear The Disco Biscuits cover “Knights of Cydonia” at Camp Bisco last summer, but somehow I just don’t think it’s the same as hearing Muse play it.

Shows I Missed: November 2015

Big Data played in New York for two whole nights, but I was in Florida on a work trip so I sadly could not make either show. I’ve been majorly into Big Data for a few months now and I would have love love loved to see them live. But alas, it was not meant to be. =(

On the bright side, while I absolutely had to be in Orlando for the first 2 of their show dates, instead of flying home and catching the 3rd show I opted to stay in Florida and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So all was not lost.