Outside Lands 2013 Day 1 Recap: The National Rock With Bob Weir, Band of Horses Bring the Noise + More
Outside Lands 2013 kicked off on Friday night (Aug. 9) at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with Paul McCartney as the chief attraction. The atmosphere surrounding his three-hour set was that of joyful celebration, but as an alternative, the festival also offered a wide range of younger acts, with Yeasayer, Pretty Lights and Chromatics all given the impossible task of competing with a Beatle. Truth be told, attendees could have skipped Macca completely and still got their money's worth.
Best Classics-Filled Set: Chromatics
When McCartney plays, you know all the songs coming from the mainstage, but Chromatics took to the tiny Panhandle stage and delivered something similar and far more innovative then simply going the nostalgia route and playing 40-year-old songs. Covering Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' and Neil Young's 'Hey Hey, My My (Into the Back),' the chilled-out electronic group managed to put entirely new spins on songs you knew by heart. They also turned their own modern classics like 'Kill for Love' and 'Back From the Grave' into upbeat, dance-floor ready anthems for people that just don't want to spend their afternoon remembering the past.
Best Special Guest: Bob Weir with The National
During a 70-minutes set that proved their new material sits pretty perfectly with old favorites -- and that frontman Matt Berninger might need to take a few days off, as his voice struggled often to go where his emotion wanted it to -- the National brought up one of their heroes, Bob Weir, on the anniversary of his old songwriting partner Jerry Garcia's death. They didn't preview their upcoming Grateful Dead covers album, but instead, they gave a fiery rendition of 'Terrible Love.' Berninger had no choice but to rise to the occasion, and his voice sounded perfect. The National delivered one of the more earnest, mind-over-matter finishes in recent memory.
Best Mid-Afternoon Set Surprise: Band of Horses
Four albums into his career, Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell has crafted quite the catalog of jams. Sometimes, it takes an hour-long performance in the middle afternoon to remember that, and on Friday, he reminded fans that 'The Funeral' and 'The General Specific' still crush at the volume a giant stage provides, and that songs from BoH's two most recent albums sound better live than they do on record. Plus, does anyone appear happier to be at a festival besides Bridwell? Doubtful.
Best Punks: The Men
When the Men open their performances, the members begin facing their amps to to create a wall of feedback. From there, it's as much of a classic rock set as a punk set, and no one else around sounds quite like them. Sure, Wavves were great and got the kids moshing like no other, but the Men will surprise and challenge those same kids if given the chance. In 2013, punk has many faces, but hopefully, the Men are the shape of what's to come -- enought so that Refused would be proud.
Check Out Exclusive Photos from Outside Lands 2013 Day One