Outside Lands Festival 2010: Top 5 Performances

Outside Lands Music And Arts FestivalSixty-five artists converged onto San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the third annual Outside Lands Festival (August 14-15, 2010) to celebrate good music, good food, good wine, and good art (most except for the first heavily involve local flair).

I found it hard to pick which artists to scope out with so many to choose from. Given that Outside Lands 2010 was truncated to two days from three in previous years, the festival felt bundled with too many artists to see in a very short period of time.

Luckily, I managed to see almost everyone I planned to (sorry Chromeo and Langhorne Slim, maybe next time you guys play in the Bay Area). There were some great performances; there were some okay performances. Thankfully, I missed the poor ones (and from what I heard Slightly Stoopid wasn’t so good). With that, here are my Top 5 Performances of the festival.

Top 5

Phoenix @ Outside Lands 2010

1. Phoenix

There aren’t many bands that are as hot as the French pop band Phoenix right now, especially after the hit song “1901” (from 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix) spent weeks on the Billboard charts.

Phoenix played many of their hit songs, including “Lisztomania,” “Lasso,” and of course “1901.” As always, the band stayed humble, even thanking everyone from the audience to the festival staff for the wonderful festival before lead singer Thomas Mars did some always-appreciated crowd surfing at the end of the performance.

Social Distortion @ Outside Lands 2010

2. Social Distortion

I won’t lie. I was never a big fan of Social Distortion, but I was blown away during the ageless band’s performance. Mike Ness hit all the right notes when it came to gauging both the atmosphere and the crowd. He praised the West Coast fans while mocking those on the East Coast, while ceremoniously hinting that many of us in the audience would probably be too hung-over to go work on Monday. Highlights included “Reach For The Sky,” “Don’t Drag Me Down,” and the performance closing Johnny Cash cover “Ring Of Fire.”

Empire Of The Sun @ Outside Lands 2010

3. Empire Of The Sun

Let me sum up the theatrical intensity of Empire Of The Sun: the band even interviews in costume. Now add Golden Gate Park, dozens of lights, and thousands of festivalgoers, and the result was the collective “what the f*ck” from most of the audience during a particular moment in the band’s Sunday night performance. Nuff said.

Wild Beasts @ Outside Lands 2010

4. Wild Beasts

British indie band Wild Beasts wowed me with an incredible sound. The opening riff of “The Fun Power Plot” elicited a huge emotional response from the audience. I hadn’t realized before how similar lead singer Hayden Thorpe’s vocals were to Interpol’s Paul Banks’. Kudos with “The Devil’s Crayon.”

Freelance Whales @ Outside Lands 2010

5. Freelance Whales

What I like most about New York indie quintet Freelance Whales was that every band member contributes in some form to the vocal melodies. The result was a richer sound that was incredibly expansive and lively, similar to Death Cab For Cutie and Passion Pit. Highlights included “Hannah” and “Generator 2nd Floor”.

Honorable Mention

  1. Little Wings
  2. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  3. The Whigs

[photos via D&L]

Note: Article first published as “Outside Lands Festival 2010: Top 5 Performances” on Blogcritics.

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