When we wrote about Flume possibly playing Outside Lands this year in our artist rumors article, we mentioned the Australian DJ could headline this year, a divisive point that got some folks questioning our claim. Based on the crowd that showed up and the high level of sustained excitement on Sunday, that possibility isn’t too far away for Harley Streten. Sure, CHVRCHES’ cancelling their set caused some massive swelling at the east end of the festival for Flume, but many of the disappointed must have found a new favorite.
Australian producer Harley Streten weaved together a crowd-pleasing set that had a saturated Twin Peaks field bouncing along with hands up for the duration, all in the 3 p.m. hour on Sunday. In the past year, Flume’s set has become more sophisticated, led by a restrained approach that intermingles hip-hop, trap, R&B and rap. The drops are inverted in their intensity compared to traditional EDM, offering slight delays and unpredictable syncopation.
Flume has helped to create and capitalize off music’s popular trend toward marrying dance music and hip-hop, and his ability to curate a festival-sized mega party cannot be questioned at this point. Fortune favors the bold …
Add in remixes, including Major Lazer’s “Get Free” & Lorde’s “Tennis Court”, while throwing back to Friday with a rework of Disclosure’s “You & Me” and “Insane” with Killer Mike’s verses, and even the uninitiated were pulled into the excitement. Streten was also able to bring in “Touched” by What So Not, his new duo with Emoh Instead.
And did I mention how packed it was? Twenty minutes before Flume was to start there was nowhere to go. Some folks had to resort to tree dancing … for mostly hilarious results (watch the video above). While the conservationist in me says raging out a tree for an hour isn’t right, it was pretty funny — but not to Ranger Dave. According to a user on a Reddit thread titled FLUME FUCKING KILLED IT, “Apparently he got fined, and just posted his ticket on Facebook.” So think twice before trying this next year.
Some shows, per usual, were very crowed this year. Perhaps too crowded. Atmosphere’s show on Saturday left no room to breath. Capital Cities looked really packed. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis easily outdrew Tom Petty. So, would you pay a little more money if Outside Lands sold less tickets? Or do you prefer the masses like penguins huddling to keep warm in the winter, or maybe just going to where the crowds aren’t.
• Woods are the most quintessential California band that is not from here — they call Brooklyn home. The group curates the Woodsist Festival down the road in Big Sur, their most famous song before this year was “Cali in a Cup”, and they felt right at home in the confines of Golden Gate Park early Sunday. When they played their new song “With Light And With Love” — one of the best songs of 2014 — the spirit of the Grateful Dead performances from the late ‘60s felt present on what used to be Speedway Meadow.
• Jenny Lewis, sporting a snazzy technicolor dream-coat that matches her new album cover for The Voyager, delighted with a slew of new cuts from the record along with some Rilo Kiley joints.
• A buzzy yet not overwhelming crowd came together for Spoon, who released their addictive new record They Want My Soul the Tuesday before Outside Lands. There are a bunch of future classics to be found in the new material that was played, including “Inside Out”, “Do You” & “Outlier”, and the new jams mixed in seamlessly with songs such as “I Turn My Camera On” and “I Summon You”. Britt Daniel looked inspired after four years on break from Spoon with Divine Fits. Watch for Spoon to have a big year, and give the new album a listen if you haven’t yet.
• You certainly can’t say The Flaming Lips aren’t trying. They seem to change from year to year, and when the Lips form a set that centers around Wayne Coyne’s voice as they did at Outside Lands, it can feel uninspired at times and triumphant at others, but our heroic muscle man gives 100 percent the entire time amongst psychedelic spectacle. Their Halloween show from 2013 in SF made my top 10 shows list last year because they took the opposite approach with Coyne’s voice, modulating it into an electronic instrument, and gone were the hyper happy Yoshimi songs, the cheerleaders, the confetti cannons and human hamster ball. All of it. Instead, the Halloween show was a glorious drone-filled, psychedelic freak out, reflecting the studio work they’d released the past two years.
Coyne and company realize a festival set is different than a normal show, so they have tried to find middle ground. The Flaming Lips leader wore a muscle body suit as if he was skinned, the cheerleaders are now put in rainbow, sun and earth costumes, while songs like “Do You Realize?” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” were played with a dystopic, bleak tone. So, by having a setlist of lighter hits that were played through a jarring lens, nobody got what they really wanted. On a positive note, the Flaming Lips are keeping it weirder than ever, and many of the extended whiffs of Pink Floyd’s languid guitar hit the spot.
• We weren’t that excited about The Killers or Tiësto to finish the festival, but we’re ready to eat our hat. I went to Tiësto since I firmly believe it’s best to say goodbye with a dance party, leaving it all on the field. The Dutch DJ was far less anthemic than anticipated, dropping some surprisingly powerful bass that speaks to his progressive nature behind the dials. Lands End was going bonkers. The overall reaction to The Killers from various press and social media websites has been very positive — Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly Presents have got their fingers on the pulse of what works for entertaining the masses at Outside Lands. We’re already looking forward to the schedule for year No. 8 in 2015.
What was your favorite act on Sunday? Did you see the dude in the tree at Flume? Tell us your story below.