OSL7In continuing to build on the foundation laid nine years ago, Another Planet Entertainment has once again outdone themselves; the final product being yet another successfully executed Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival. The 2016 version – keen on replicating the successes of previous iterations – was calculated in its approach, careful not to break the trends and quirks that have made it such a mainstay to the community.

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Instead, APE kept what has worked and improved upon it; meaning deeper lineups, aesthetically more impressive sound and lighting productions, finally allowing payment via RFID-enabled festival wristbands, and a fair amount of side stages to keep all wandering pseudo-bohemians well occupied. Unfortunately, along with the quality improvements also came a pretty substantial price adjustment – putting on a nationally recognized festival is big business, after all.

Those willing to stomach the uptick were treated to an especially diverse lineup ranging from saxophone playing acts like Kamasi Washington and GRiZ, nostalgia-inducing pop rock outfit Third Eye Blind, platinum (and featureless) hip hop artist J.Cole, EDM prodigy Zedd, the Jack-of-all-trades Garratt, and rags to riches rapper Anderson .Paak.

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Favorite Headliner: LCD Soundsystem (Lands End) 
  • While I admittedly wasn’t a LCD Soundsystem fanboy during their heyday, I was intrigued to see them making a return to the festival circuit this year. Having had a chance to see them from afar at Coachella, I knew I needed a better vantage point to really assess their live set and got just that at Hellman Hollow last weekend.

 

  • Closing out the first night, James Murphy and Co. proved the timelessness of their avant-garde, punk-infused electronic jams. Extending the most addicting grooves from their catalogue, LCD Soundsystem made it impossible not to dance–from getting down to “Dance Yrslf Clean” to head-thrashing on “Losing My Edge.” For me, “I Can Change” was the song that stuck the most from the entire weekend. – Ninja Ashraf

 

Next Up: Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (Panhandle)
  • Anderson .Paak has been the act to see this year, and rightfully so. His stop at the Panhandle stage on Saturday gave fans a somewhat rare opportunity to catch the rapidly rising star on a more intimate side stage. Delivering on the hype that surrounds him, Paak and his band, The Free Nationals, ran through their already seemingly endless catalogue of tracks opening with the high-energy “Milk & Honey.” As the show continued, .Paak showed his versatility, playing the drums while singing/rapping flawlessly. If you haven’t had a chance to catch him yet, we’d definitely recommend doing so before he’s selling out stadiums. – Ninja Ashraf
Sunset set of the weekend: Rufus Du Sol (Panhandle) 

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  • Rufus Du Sol were another act that felt a bit bigger than their time / placement. However, those that did make it to their set were treated to a breathtaking experience. Bringing their colorful house and electronica to life with a full band, the Australian three-piece brought equal parts dancefloor vibes and emotional vigor. Their 10-minute masterpiece, “Innerbloom,” along with fan-favorite “You Were Right” couldn’t have been much more prime for the Panhandle Stage as dusk set in. – Ninja Ashraf

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Sunday Funday

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Lapsley1OSL festival-goers of the frugal variety – and honestly, who could blame you, with 3 day GA tickets going for over $400 this year – were seen crisscrossing Hellman Hollow while sporting single-day bracelets all weekend. Those looking to get the most for their hard earned money (in terms of quality performers, that is) chose Sunday as their big day out. Compared to the previous two afternoons and based on the long lines streaming in from the N Muni, it was obvious that the majority of you were in agreement regarding the superiority of Sunday’s schedule. It certainly didn’t hurt that Sunday was also the lone sunny day, had the best overall set, most underrated set, and the best early set.

  

Best Overall Set: Chance the Rapper (Lands End) 

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  • Flanked by Donnie Trumpet of The Social Experiment, famed Chicago lyricist Chance the Rapper put on the performance of the weekend. Even with a strong pool of hip-hop acts including Vince Staples, Miguel, and Big Boi, Chance took to the main stage and upstaged his peers. Playing a healthy dose of his critically acclaimed works Acid Rap and Coloring Book, he mixed in hijinks and witty banter with crowd-pleasing jams.

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  • Leaving no stone left unturned for the packed crowd, Chance also recited his feature appearances on works like “Baby Blue” and “Ultralight Beam”. With a few days of hindsight to reflect, I can rest easy saying this was one of the best hip hop acts I have seen in the past few years.

 

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 Most Underrated Set: GRiZ [DJ Set] (Stubhub Sound Stage) 
  • While Chance was impressing over at Lands End, GRiZ was holding his own woodwind-electronic jam session at Twin Peaks. Fortunately, the decision to skip his performance in favor of Chance was made easier by his announced DJ set on Sunday evening. Snugly tucked between the new Beer Lands setup and the OSL-staple Heineken Dome was a new arrival: The Stubhub Sound Stage.

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  • Playing a heavy hitting, adrenaline rush of a set, GRiZ turned the undersized tent on its head and gave fans an especially personal experience with one of the bigger artists in his field. By the time his performance was winding down, those of us looking for the exit were shocked to turn and find heads bobbing at attention for no less than 40 yards back from the tent entrance. The ninja crew will be interested to see what type of showing Stubhub puts on next year, and if they can put up a challenge to the Heineken Dome as the new all-day dance haven.

 

 Best Early Set: Oh Wonder (Lands End) 

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  • As an act that has been covered over a dozen times on our site, Oh Wonder was well worth the lost hours of sleep to wake up early and make the trek across town. The London duo, pegged as one of our “Top 4 Acts before 4” in the preview post, lived up to our high expectations in playing a set filled with the familiar tracks released over a yearlong album reveal.

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  • Mixed in with their soulful set of original works were a few covers, including a vastly improved rendition of The Weeknd’s “The Morning”. For those who missed Oh Wonder, make sure to catch them on their return to the US at either of the Symbiosis or Life is Beautiful music festivals this fall.

 

 

 Most Fun Band to Hangout With : Marian Hill 

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  • Fresh off of a stopover at Lollapalooza’s main stage and just before departing on a September kick off tour in support of Act One, the Ninja team caught up with Marian Hill, a pair we’ve been covering since the beginning. Jeremy and Sam were gracious visitors to the Bay, sharing their experiences and who they were most excited to see perform. Stay tuned for more on our encounter in a soon-to-be released Q&A session.

 

Best Food Vendor: Straw 

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  • San Francisco is a self-proclaimed city of foodies. Outside Lands has long since tried to capture the identity of its host city, upping the ante with food, wine, beer, and local art installations each year (including a $22 lobster roll, if you’re into that type of thing). On the eatery trail, there was a new “Outside Clams” set up to go along with mainstays likes Humphrey Slocombe, Spicy Pie, Pica Pica, and Senor Sisig.

 

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  • Topping the list of tastiest / most interesting things seen ingested this year was the gluttonous Donut Bacon Cheeseburger courtesy of Haight’s Straw restaurant. Exactly as it sounds, Straw is a beef patty with cheese and topped with bacon, smushed between two enormous glazed donuts. Along with a side of sweet potato tots and blackberry bbq sauce, Straw’s burger had the value, quality, and sugar content to keep our feet moving.

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 Best Overall Stage: Twin Peaks 
  • As a bit of backstory, we have been going to The Park each summer for this festival since before the Warriors learned how to shoot 3’s. Every single year – this one being no different – the majority of the most talented & entertaining acts end up on the far side of that dusty hill at the Twin Peaks stage.

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  • Additionally, Twin Peaks is the home to the counter-headliner each night, while also (usually) housing the best up-and-coming acts from the past few months. It is not at all uncommon for Outsidelanders to make a beeline straight from the entrance, under Ranger Dave’s gaze, to Twin Peaks and slowly make their way towards the front as the crowds ebb and flow elsewhere throughout the day.
  • This tactic usually pays off for the younger demographic, who generally prefer to end their nights with previous Twin Peaks headers like Flume, Justice, or Skrillex over traditional acts such as Metallica, Elton John, or Stevie Wonder. That’s not to say I would be the type to park it at one stage all day, but if there is any festival/stage pairing to have that approach and still feel satisfied with your day, this is the clear cut winner.

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 Best Background for your Instagram Photo: Any of the murals curated by Marcos LaFarga 

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  • To the relief of many OSL veterans and the surprise of many first timers, artwork of various styles returned in full force, dotting the polo fields. The unofficial resident artist, SF-based Marcos LaFarga was called on once again to bring back the billboard-sized murals that made their debut in 2014. Depicting imaginative and entertaining scenes combined with a clever idiom or proverb, LaFarga’s works have made countless appearances on our IG timelines. (@marcoslafarga)

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 Big Grams (Lands End)

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 Miike Snow (Lands End)

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 Beach House (Sutro)

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 Tokimonsta & Gavin Turek (Panhandle)

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 Years & Years (Lands End)

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 Other Acts 

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 Views From the Polo Fields 

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