Kanye, Valerie Hune, Big Freedia + More emerge from the fog at Outside Lands: photos by Ashleigh Reddy
Kanye, Valerie Hune, Big Freedia + More emerge from the fog at Outside Lands: photos by Ashleigh Reddy

Kanye, Disclosure, Valerie June + More Emerged From The Fog At Outside Lands [Photo Gallery + Recap]

Photos by Ashleigh Reddy for Okayplayer

If clothing is the metaphor for San Francisco’s 7th Outside Lands festival, one can think of appropriate dress for the coastal city: layers. Lots of Layers. With the likes of Kanye West and Tom Petty at the top of bill, the weekend had a little something for everybody. A well placed layer-cake of sonic experience fitting for the populace of concert-goers by the Bay. A partly cloudy weekend saw black-clad Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P) bring afternoon electricity to eager hip-hop heads, while funk heroes Chromeo led a dance disco at dusk. Elsewhere, indie act Warpaint cast chill grooves over an overcast meadow, while shiny pants hoards of party troopers filled the Heineken House Tent, forgetting that daytime was a thing. Macklemore hyped the crowd in a bullfighter’s costume, while Big Freedia, complete with laser-blue extensions, turned the meadow of festival-goers into a collective twerk team (there has never existed more booty popping than during this amazing set).

Contrasting with the likes of the neon hippie-headresses of Bonnaroo, the bro-tanks of Coachella, and the fairy tutus of EDC, Outside Lands didn’t own one defining look--with the exception of the trendy floppy hat and knitted shall combo of many young women. I inquired to several of these ladies about what this sort of hat was called, which proved fruitless.  “I don’t know--a Carmen San Diego hat?” --one woman asked. Another proclaimed it her Indiana Jones hat. For the gents, it seemed like the epic bearded age of hip San Franciscans is falling out of fashion with the hip, as are the once omnipresent plaid flannels. No witty t-shirts, no cool sneaks--just muted colors, sensible tees, zip-hoodies, puff coats, and sunglasses. The look of the masses. A group of folks with enough lightweight under-layers to stay cool while boogying, and enough top-layers to keep warm when the park turned frigid with Frisco Fog--just in time for Yeezy to bring his own climate of super-ego and stardom.

Lord Yeezus himself--thee Kanye West made it rain red on a shockingly clear Friday night in the form of “Blood on the Leaves”--five times! Yeezy’s set closed out the opening night of the weekend at the Land’s End stage--the biggest meadow on the polo fields at Golden Gate park. Monterey Pines, Eucalyptus and Cypress trees glowing with soft lighting enclosed a stage glowing red from Kanye’s solid color backdrop. Blood on the leaves, indeed. Fest-goers donned jackets as Yeezy rained down a set full of hits cut off midway through everyone’s favorite parts, so Kanye could speak. He spoke a lot. His backdrop loudly proclaimed its sophistication in its simplicity-solid colors: red, orange, white--loud and saturated. The setlist was peppered with hits from features--crowd pleasers like G.O.O.D. Music’s “I Don’t Like,” the boom of “Mercy,” and essentially the epic intro to “Clique,” all of which was promptly cut short for a Kanye speech about the media. And then the red screen backdrop was back for an encore of more “Blood on the Leaves,” as was promised earlier. Yeezus --hoping to show how much of a rockstar he could be?--commanded the audience to create circles. The beat would play, and Kanye would cut the song off, dictating that circles for moshing were needed to support the energy of the song. One of the layers of this crowd is not metal, so his wish was not easily manifested by the slightly confused crowd. Still, Yeezus die-hards grew hot with Kanye-fever when he proclaimed, “People seemed to be really amazed about how I could go on TV and say some wild shit and get away with it.” Everyone else just buttoned up their flannels and zipped their jackets in the chill of the Frisco night.

Layers were necessary. Prior to the epicness of the Yeezus experience, the babyfaced duo of Disclosure delivered a fantastic soulful house set where their cherubim smirks were split 50/50 on the stage screens and the lads showed they are no mere knob-turners (as one gentleman in the media tent described them to another journalist earlier in the afternoon). They followed Chromeo’s air-tight set with a party that heated up the populace and packed the front of the Land’s End stage. Older brother Guy, clocking it at 23 years of age, donned a bass and led a live bassline for hit, “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” in near perfect tempo with the underlying house beat, seemingly created live by younger Howard on the pads and keys. I was impressed--not merely knob turners, and barely old enough to drink (in the States). Heat permeated the early afternoons where 808 remix master Flume shut it down with spinning every track on his soundcloud, to give a well needed dose of trap beats to the people, including his ever-popular remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me.” The tank-tops and dreads were out in full force for the skanking dance party led by the Soul Rebels set, booming with horns and covers of popular reggae hits, which at their high-points sounded better than the originals.

Lykke Li brought her layers of calm in the midst of a sea of folks that had just boogied to uptempo acts for hours. Supported by a 5-piece band, she asked the if the crowd was okay with seeing an actual band--one that included an acoustic guitar; the obligatory hit at festivals seemingly being dominated more and more by the thirst for electronic parties. But the layers of music mashed well for the populace: chillwave, epic boogie, house dance parties, the most indie of indie. Outside Lands 2014 captivated the toned down air of hipster-coolness once so ubiquitous in San Francisco, and offered a little something for everyone: all in the mix of the horns, screams, boogies, breaks, drops, booty-pops and hippy-twirls, in that famous sea layer fog.