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#96 – Radiohead @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 6 Aug ’16

#96 – Radiohead @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 6 Aug ’16

This is what I was really looking forward to after Radiohead’s soulfully satisfying performance at Madison Square Garden! And this was Outside Lands (OL) in San Francisco, needless to say, my hopes were “high”! But as it usually turns out, if its too good to be true, it usually is! This one I attended with some friends, and we wanted to explore the festival grounds a little before Radiohead started. We headed to one of the other stages (OL has seven) and this unbelievable sight is what greeted us. I immediately put my mediocre-quality-but-14x-zoom Canon digicam to work and captured this shot to log into the history books! And no sooner than that the performance ended! Lucky timing 😉

Let's just say I couldn't believe my eyes!
Let’s just say I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Having been rewarded for our foray into the crazy land, we headed back to our valley and as we descended the hills the sight that greeted us was almost scary! Our lands had been overrun and there was a crazy-drunken-marijuana-emanating party going on. We braced ourselves and dived right in.

2016 was the year Outside Lands came of age! The crowd this time was crazy, both in numbers and in character!
2016 was the year Outside Lands came of age! The crowd this time was crazy, both in numbers and in character!

After a couple of pitstops to get beers (not for me, I was already high, thanks to some benevolent patrons) and check out the Heineken EDM club, we wisely thought it was time to book our standing spots and as we headed in the general direction of the stage got stuck in the first human jam of OL!

People at Outside Lands
As we were heading to the Land’s End stage, we literally got stuck in a people traffic jam!

We somehow held onto each other and the river of music-lovers finally placed us on the shores of civilization. We saw new sights and heard new sounds and tasted new food and met more benevolent patrons in this bustling and happily tripping land.

Somehow made it to more civilized lands!
Somehow made it to more civilized lands!
This is eco-consciously cute!
This is eco-consciously cute!

Yes this land was amazing and enticing and distracting, but we didn’t want to lose focus of our goal and trudged on through all these temptations to see Radiohead Live! But as it turned out, we had already committed the sin of sloth and temptation and now our path to the promised land was blocked by human barricades. Not to give up so easily we fought through for some time but couldn’t make much headway as this place was covered with feet-mines and there wasn’t a piece of safe land to step on (got “blasted” a couple of times). Resigned to our fate we set base where we could manage even a glimpse of our promised lands!

But we were too late, the mob of devotees had swelled up and this is as near as we could get.
But we were too late, the mob of devotees had swelled up and this is as near as we could get.

In the promised lands (or its vicinity) it’s every man for himself and as I readied myself to get lost in the music once Radiohead started playing, unfortunately that point never came and I got lost in the crowd instead. Radiohead didn’t start too well (just like in New York and so I knew that) but when they didn’t really pick up even after the fifth song I got a little worried. Maybe they were the same, maybe it was me who was different (high), most probably it was the crowd who didn’t seem too enthused, too engaged and that lack of energy and appreciation from my fellow music lovers affected me deeply in that heightened state of awareness because I am a true lover of Radiohead and yes they are not the most popular or mainstream but their fans are the most diehard! And what I realized that these people around me are not true Radiohead-fans, they are foreign visitors to these sacred lands and as such viewing our gods with some mild disinterest, something akin to a tourist clicking a photo of the most beautiful scenery and then checking how it looked on their phones or cameras and then moving on to the next scenic spot. But I still thought the mournfully beautiful tunes will somehow get through to the dazed stupor of the tourist, surely a beauty of this caliber should shake you awake, it has to be powerful. But no; and sadly the final dejected thoughts I had were “SF is too cool for Radiohead” and “The magic of Radiohead is a waning one and no match to our self-obsessed generation of Me and My Choices!” In fact Radiohead fans ourselves are a perfect example of that self-obsession. But then isn’t music itself a form of self-obsession as it draws you inwards and enables you to hear your inner voices more clearly? Anyway, I was just sorrowful!

The Radiohead show is on and I am a bit lost, a bit hazy, a bit sad!
The Radiohead show is on and I am a bit lost, a bit hazy, a bit sad!

But there was hope in the end. When Radiohead played the last song “Karma Police” and sang the lines,

…For a minute there,

I lost myself,

I lost myself…

everyone started to murmur the first time, sang the next time and then cried out the last time. Finally, at the very last moment, at the point beyond redemption, at the edge of the cliff that we have been sleepwalking towards, Radiohead got through and woke us up to some drops of unrealized latent tears welling up at the corners of our eyes…

And the weather didn't help either, it was cold and windy and perfect for Radiohead songs (maybe a little too perfect!)
… and then we woke up to this true gray reality called modern life!
  • Concert#: 96
  • Season: 2016
  • Date: 6-August-2016
  • Band/Artist: Radiohead
  • Tour Name: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Supporting acts: Lots
  • Venue: Golden Gate Park
  • City: San Francisco, CA
  • Setlist: Radiohead
  • My Concert Quotient: 3/5

#95 – Duran Duran + LCD Soundsystem @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 5 Aug ’16

#95 – Duran Duran + LCD Soundsystem @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 5 Aug ’16

2016 is the year Outside Lands got really really BIG! The people, the stalls, the environment, it was a different world, not sure if good or not, but definitely different. This was my 4th attendance and never had I seen so many people here, it was just crazy. It may have been due to Radiohead headlining Day 2 this year, but I suspect not. Outside Lands had come of age…

Ranger Dave welcoming all to The Outside Lands
Ranger Dave welcoming all to Outside Lands 2016

Day 1 (Friday) was anyway just a bonus for me with Duran Duran (whom I had seen once before) and LCD Soundsystem (whom I had never even heard of before). I started late just in time for Duran Duran (who weren’t the headliners for Day 1, LCD Soundsystem was), took the train into San Francisco (as I knew I will get high-lucky) and then an Uber to the Golden Gate Park but through some really beautiful and classy neighbourhood in SF; I had never seen those parts and neither had the Uber driver and even he had a hard time keeping his eyes on the road. Now every year when I head out to this 3-day festival, I always have a harrowing time figuring out the North Entrance, the South Entrance, any entrance and usually end up wandering around for half an hour just trying to figure where to enter from. This time I got a little lucky, saw a volunteer and he directed me, though I still ended up walking 15 mins or so. Now you may think what’s the big deal with a 15 mins walk. But when you are late for a concert and are finally near enough to hear a band playing and still trying to figure out how you can get in, then 15 mins is almost an eternity!

The swelling crowd at stage Sutro. Don't know who was playing though!
The swelling crowd at stage Sutro. Don’t know who was playing though!

I finally entered near the stage Sutro which was opposite to where Duran Duran was and so my sojourn was not over yet. The crowd in front of Sutro was a welcome although surprising sight and gave me a inkling of how big Outside Lands (OL) was going to be this year. I hurried on towards Duran Duran when suddenly the welcome words “PORK BELLY” greeted me and I thanked my lucky heavens, though a bit prematurely! Because not being able to eat something that you paid $15 for as it was so bad, is kind of a bummer!! (I actually clicked a picture of the barely-eaten-then-discarded burger, but some of you might be eating as you read this so…)

95-4_someplace_ol_sfca_160805
On the way to see Duran Duran, voila, mercy, sweet heavens! (Though it turned out to be inedible, it was that bad!)

And finally reached the Land’s End stage where Duran Duran had already performed a couple of their songs. Well better late than never. But my issue with such huge festivals is that I too go for the difference in experience as compared to a concert, however the music and the performance is always paramount and unless you come really early there is very slim chance that you will get up close and personal with the band on stage. And the further back you are the more disconnected to the performance you feel, as if its really their concert (the front-standers) and us back-slackers didn’t really buy a ticket so this is the best free view you will get! I know I could have just gone earlier but like I said this was just the bonus day for me.

And finally Duran Duran, can barely make them out on the screen
And finally Duran Duran, can barely make them out on the screen though!

 

95-5_duranduran_ol_sfca_160805
The intersection of great music and music-lovers!

Since I came so far, so I hung around for LCD Soundsystem whom I had never heard of, let alone hear their music before. But they were pretty good and enjoyed some good music heard for the first time live. Didn’t get too near to the stage and was comfortable hanging back, checking out the beautiful people and soaking in the positive energy and good vibes of people listening to music, smoking weed, drinking beer, napping on the ground.

Next on, LCD Soundsystem (though I had never heard them or of them!)
Next on, LCD Soundsystem (though I had never heard them or of them!)

That is one of the things I love about Outside Lands, it has a very cool and relaxed feel, true San Francisco-style. The crowd is simply happy and high, the grounds are manageable, they usually have a great line-up, always a few I am interested in checking out each year, and has some strange nooks and corners that feels great exploring. They also have a wide selection of craft beers and great wines (called Beer Land and Wine Land) but as I went sober half a year back so skillfully bypassed these nostalgic reminders! Over the years the crowd has multiplied and have gone from hippie to hip but that I guess is inevitable. And the only reason I am mentioning that here is because I always go alone so the previous experiences were a bit more personal, a bit more intimate, its like a yearly pilgrimage for me and its hard to find communion with the ethereal spirits when there is so much hustle-bustle around.

Even at a distance people were soaking in the music and happily dancing, playing, tripping...
Even at a distance people were soaking in the music and happily dancing, playing, tripping…

Finally as I was heading back before the show ended to beat the exit-rush, I looked back and saw these fluorescent people having fun so far away but still immersed in the music. It made me smile and then feel a little old. Anyway, Radiohead, here I come (again)!

  • Concert#: 95
  • Season: 2016
  • Date: 5-August-2016
  • Band/Artist: LCD Soundsystem, Duran Duran
  • Tour Name: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
  • Supporting acts: Lots
  • Venue: Golden Gate Park
  • City: San Francisco, CA
  • Setlist: Duran Duran, LCD Soundsystem
  • My Concert Quotient: 3/5