Our favorite performances from 2017

Best live shows of 2017 - The xx, Miguel, Moderat & Coldplay

2017, where the hell did you go? It just felt like the other day that we were ringing in a new year, and yet, here we are again as we plow straight ahead into 2018.

But before we officially put a bow on 2017, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. This year, we had the opportunity to capture many amazing moments in live music, and while we couldn’t pay homage to every single performance we witnessed, we made a conscious effort to include a wide range of talent spread across the industry.

Whittling down our list, though, was not that easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

21 Savage, The Accidentals, Action Bronson, Alice Cooper, Alina Baraz, alt-J, Amber Mark, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Animal Collective, Atlas Genius, The Avalanches, The Band Perry, Beach Slang, Belle and Sebastian, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Bleachers, Blonde Redhead, Bob Moses, Car Seat Headrest, Cate Le Bon, Cigarettes After Sex, Circles Around the Sun, City of Caterpillar, The Coathangers, Claude VonStroke, Chris Robinson, Con Brio, Conor Oberst, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Crystal Castles, The Crystal Method, Daniel Caesar, Dawes, Dead Meadow, Deafheaven, Deep Purple, Diet Cig, DIIV, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Dog, Dr. Octagon, Duke Dumont, Eagles of Death Metal, Electric Guest, Emancipator, Emily King, Empire of the Sun, Foxygen, Future Islands, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Gatecreeper, Girl Talk, Gone Is Gone, Grizzly Bear, Gucci Mane, Hamilton Leithauser, Hazel English, Hinds, The Hip Replacements, Hiss Golden Messenger, How to Dress Well, Iggy Pop, Isaiah Rashad, Jack Johnson, Jagwar Ma, Jamestown Revival, Jamie Isaac, Jay 305, Jen Cloher, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Jessie Ware, Jim James, JR JR, Julie Byrne, Julien Baker, Justice, Karen Elson, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, KAYTRANADA, Kelis, K. Flay, Khalid, Khruangbin, Kilo Kish, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kurt Vile, La Femme, LANY, Lauv, L.A. Witch, Lettuce, Lil Yachty, Little Dragon, Lo Moon, Lorde, Lord Huron, Miike Snow, Milky Chance, Minus the Bear, Mister Heavenly, MØ, Mondo Cozmo, Neon Indian, Nicki Bluhm, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, NVO, Oh Sees, OK Go, Once and Future Band, Pallbearer, The Palms, Passion Pit, Peaches, Perfume Genius, Petit Biscuit, Phoebe Bridgers, Playboi Carti, Pond, Porcelain Raft, PRAYERS, The Radio Dept., Real Estate, The Revivalists, Royal Blood, Sampha, ScHoolboy Q, Sheer Mag, serpentwithfeet, Silversun Pickups, Sleep, Sleigh Bells, SOFI TUKKER, Solange, Spiritualized, Styles P, Sunflower Beam, Talib Kweli, Tank and The Bangas, Tash Sultana, Tei Shi, Temples, Tennis, Tennyson, Thou, Thundercat, TOBACCO, Touché Amoré, Tool, Tove Lo, Travis Scott, Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vagabon, Vance Joy, Vic Mensa, Warpaint, Weezer, White Fence, Woods, YG, Young the Giant.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2017.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Best of 2017 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Date: February 1st
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Yet, in just four years, Run the Jewels have already reached hip-hop’s mountaintop with their politically charged lyrics and hard-hitting beats. Just take last Wednesday’s sold-out show in LA for example. With the duo’s third studio album still only a few weeks old, 5,000 or so fans poured into the spacious Shrine Expo Hall to watch El-P and Killer Mike fuck shit up (for lack of a better term). And that’s exactly what they did after opening sets from The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangasta Boo and CUZ. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - BADBADNOTGOOD

BADBADNOTGOOD

Date: February 23rd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold-out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Spoon

Spoon

Date: March 7th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

In total, Spoon performed five songs from the new record, including “First Caress” to open a brief encore that left us eager for more. But as the five-piece rocked “Rainy Taxi” from 2014’s They Want My Soul to close, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is one band I never should have slept on. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

Date: April 8th
Location: Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best of 2017 - DREAMCAR

DREAMCAR

Date: April 9th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Jared Stossel, photo by Jared Stossel


Best of 2017 - A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

Date: April 13th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Date: April 14th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

Yes, the sound problems (all three instances) put a real damper on what was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. This was the third time Goldenvoice called on Radiohead to headline Coachella, and for one of rock’s most important bands over the last 30 years, it certainly wasn’t a charm as the saying goes. In that moment, it was pretty hard not to feel bad for Thom Yorke, who could only make light of the situation by cracking a joke even if it wasn’t supposed to be one — or so he claimed. But Radiohead more than made up for it with a masterful setlist that opened with A Moon Shaped Pool cuts “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk” and “Ful Stop” before circling back to older hits such as “Everything in Its Right Place”, “There There”, “Idioteque” and even “Creep”. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Date: April 16th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

All hail, King Kendrick! Or should we say “Kung Fu Kenny?” The Compton rapper reached hip-hop’s mountaintop more than two years ago with his Grammy-winning masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, but headlining Coachella was still on his to-do list. In fact, it was only the second time he had ever been booked to perform at Coachella after being listed on the last line of the 2012 poster. Closing out the fest is no short order for any artist, let alone one who dropped his new album less than 48 hours before taking the stage, but K-Dot lived up to the billing with a show that provoked as much thought as it entertained. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - The xx

The xx

Date: April 17th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

Playfully alluding to their material’s emotional sentiment, Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar) and Oliver Sim (bass, vocals) managed to entrance all of us with their tension-filled gazes and syncopated dance moves. Prolonging vocal arrangements, especially during their accelerated live interpretation of “Infinity”, were also stunning to witness. About halfway through the set, Jamie Smith (beats, MPC, production), aka Jamie xx, took the lead and transformed the room into a giant disco party thanks to an onslaught of consecutive dance hits before finishing with “Loud Places” from his 2015 solo LP In Colour. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

Date: April 20th
Location: Mayan Theater – Los Angeles

Moderat subsequently circled back to III, performing “Intruder” before exiting the stage to a rousing applause. Yet, when the house lights didn’t come on right away, the suspense began to build once again. Less than a minute later, the three-piece reemerged, giving the audience more than its money’s worth. Two-encore shows are usually reserved for high-profile groups with extensive catalogs like Radiohead, but Moderat have never played by any rules. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Date: May 9th
Location: The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles

The Lips, of course, made sure to play that song, and even though it was without Watts, it still proved to be an unforgettable moment due to the fact that Coyne rode a life-size unicorn from one end of the stage to the other as he belted out lines like “Yeah, there should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes / It should be loud as fuck / Hope the swans don’t die” to open the tune while wearing a big smile across his face. If that’s not psychedelic to you, then I don’t know what is. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Date: June 3rd
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Stephanie Port, photo by Stephanie Port


Best of 2017 - Jay Som

Jay Som

Date: June 17th
Location: Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.” -Kevin Quandt, photo by Emmeline Munson


Best of 2017- AIR

AIR

Date: June 23rd
Location: The Masonic – San Francisco

AIR’s live performances focus on capturing the crisp, detailed production style that the duo has honed over two decades. It’s a vibrant, textured sound. Centered around acoustic guitar, synthesizers and the breathy timbre of the duo’s immaculate harmonized vocals, the use of live drums helped round out the contrast between both the artificial and acoustic sounds in songs like “Cherry Blossom Girl”. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - PLANETARIUM

PLANETARIUM

Date: July 21st
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”. -Norm de Veyra, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - The Drums

The Drums

Date: July 21st
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

By the time The Drums took the stage, the intimate venue was packed to the brim with fans. The Brooklyn outfit made as much of an impression as it did when frontman Jonathan Pierce and company exploded onto the scene in 2009 with their initial EP Summertime! From then on, it became glaringly obvious with their eccentric band members and seemingly effortless style that they possessed an energetic presence. And at their SF show, it didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to fall into a groove as the venue’s whole atmosphere lit up. -Jacqueline Moore, photo by Jacqueline Moore


Best of 2017 - Miguel

Miguel

Date: July 23rd
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles

Once the sun set and Miguel stepped onstage, the audience was transported somewhere else entirely. Born and raised in LA, the 31-year-old’s silky-smooth voice floated through the cool evening breeze over the twinkle lights in the trees, giving the impression of an island retreat rather than a concert in the park. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: August 5th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

Granduciel’s raspy voice, as well as his driving (no pun intended) guitar rhythms and reverb-laden riffs, are largely what separates The War on Drugs from the rest in a crowded indie-rock scene, but the sum of the band’s parts — Charlie Hall (drums), David Hartley (bass), Anthony LaMarca (guitar, keyboards), Robbie Bennett (keyboards) and finally Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) — also creates a sound that while familiar, still feels uniquely different. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Date: August 11th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Easily one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Gorillaz’s Humanz tour made its West Coast debut on Day 1 at OSL. After a six-year hiatus, expectations ran extremely high for this headlining performance. On previous tours, the band’s members had played second fiddle to the cartoon projections of their alter egos onstage, but everyone was visible this time around. Several collaborators from Gorillaz’s previous albums, including Kali Uchis, Yukimi Nagano and Del the Funky Homosapien, came out to join them, and the Damon Albarn-led group still pulled some even bigger surprises with cameos appearances from De la Soul and Pusha T. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Date: August 12th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

While the cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age was a blow a week prior to the event, the replacement that was lined up more than delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll. Cage the Elephant are now being widely considered festival-headliner material, and frontman Matt Shultz is making a strong claim for that accolade as he continues to elevate his stage act to near-Mick Jagger levels of pomp and energy. “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” received hearty sing-alongs from a decidedly youthful crowd as Cage have become a favorite of Generation Z. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!” -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - SZA

SZA

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - Bonobo

Bonobo (Live)

Date: September 27th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Coldplay

Coldplay

Date: October 4th
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

Coldplay took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. as a video montage of fans who introduced them as “the biggest band in the world” played onstage. While I’m pretty sure there are a few other artists or groups from their side of the pond (ehem, U2) who might take issue with that claim, they certainly did nothing during their electric, almost two-hour performance to dissuade that sort of thinking. Chris Martin and company, in fact, wasted no time getting down to business, flooding the stadium with confetti and firing off pyrotechnics at a steady clip while opening with “A Head Full of Dreams” and subsequently all throughout the night. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Date: October 26th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

Here’s the thing about BSS — after 15 years, the web of musicians that makes up the collective have created their own individual projects, from Metric to Stars to Feist to Do Make Say Think to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. And while many of the band’s members who have gone on to find success in their own solo careers didn’t happen to join the group on this particular tour, the sense of professionalism built into the BSS live experience remains prevalent. Every person who stepped onstage demonstrated consummate abilities in their own realms, never missing a beat or a note. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Norm de Veyra

Best of 2017 - Jim James

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Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe expands at Terrapin Crossroads as Phil Lesh joins the party

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe with Phil LeshBy James Nagel //

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe //
Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael, CA
March 27th, 2017 //

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe brought the funk to Terrapin Crossroads for a two-set, sold-out performance last Friday. Denson and company started things off slowly but eventually put fans into a frenzy with a jazzy cover of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid”. After that, the show turned into an energizing dance party for the rest of the night.

Though it might have been a surprise to some, regulars at Terrapin Crossroads have come to expect frequent guest appearances by the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh. With three songs left in the first set, Lesh stepped onstage and helped out with a cover of “Shakedown Street”. All in all, it was a very fun, jammy, jazzy and smiles-all-around show.

Boogaloo Mountain Jam 2016: A family affair

Boogaloo Mountain Jam 2016By Lindsay Alamillo //

Boogaloo Mountain Jam //
Oak Canyon Park – Silverado, CA
April 29th-May 1st, 2016 //

Boogaloo Mountain Jam celebrated its second year last weekend at Silverado’s Oak Canyon Park. The venue, which has hosted beloved events like Lightning in a Bottle, Woogie Weekend and Dirtybird Campout, did not disappoint. The park was turned into a small, intimate burner oasis for a weekend with famed playa art cars Charlie the Unicorn and The Dirty Beetles Bus taking the place of stages.

Because this festival was small in comparison to most others (with an attendance of less than 1,000), it gave off a much more personal feel. This could also be due to the fact that it’s put on by a bunch of Burning Man camps and affiliates. The festival itself was started by The Dirty Beetles. What began a few years ago as a fundraiser to fuel an art installation for the burn has turned into a wonderful family affair. People of all ages were in attendance, from the old shirtless man feeling the bass to the cute little baby in the onesie with his face painted and aviator headphones to match. It’s fair to say that spirits were soaring at an immeasurably high rate as a result.

Walking through the entrance gates, attendees were greeted with a picturesque scenery filled with lush trees, green grass, sunny skies and a tranquil lake. The stages were all placed fairly close to each other; you could easily walk the perimeter in less than 10 minutes. Surprisingly, this did not affect the sound quality as the crisp and clear sounds of each stage pierced the air around it. Vibrant colors surrounded the open space as vendors set up shop to offer attendees sparkling gems and crystals, essential oil blends and serums, handcrafted jewelry and leather goods. Canvases and other art pieces seemed to be perfectly placed around the park like they were treasures just waiting to be discovered.

Boogaloo Mountain Jam 2016 - Karl Denson's Tiny Universe


Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

The lineup did not boast big multi-million-dollar DJs but did have several popular artists who have strayed away from the mainstream. DJ Dan, Stylust Beats, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The Funk Hunters and a few of the acclaimed DirtyBird cast — Worthy, J. Phlip and Christian Martin — all made the trek out into the mountains for a weekend of dancing and good vibes.

Favorites within the LA community were also in tote. Venice local Marques Wyatt, Josh Billing (resident DJ of Orange County’s Focus Nightclub) and KCRW’s own Jason Bentley all worked to keep the smiles big and the bodies moving.

The music didn’t stop at the end of each night’s scheduled acts. The campgrounds were filled with renegade camps offering after-hours sounds and activities for everyone who wasn’t ready for the night to end. The Dirty Beetles hosted their own after-hours party lasting until 6 a.m. Saturday morning with DJ Dan. They were just getting things started, after all.

Boogaloo Mountain Jam 2016 - DJ Dan


DJ Dan

But the weekend was not just about the music. In true burner spirit, art and creativity were flowing heavily throughout the three-day extravaganza. Oak Canyon Park was flooded with outlandish costumes all outstanding in their own right. Hoop dancers, LED knickknacks, steampunk-inspired headwear and live paintings could be found scattered anywhere within the park or its bordering campgrounds. Along with their leave-no-trace-behind philosophy, the promotion of radical self-expression was alive and thriving. It was wonderful to watch these basic principles of Burning Man be both graciously and voluntarily embraced without question or explanation.

Everyone in attendance seemed to be in better than great spirits, showing love, admiration and respect to whomever crossed their path. It seemed like every introduction came with a hug, and smiles adorned the faces of everyone around. It was the kind of place that you visit with your friends and leave with a newfound family. The positivity was powerful, and people had nothing but great things to say about the weekend.

The music, art and people of Boogaloo worked together to create a synergetic energy that was felt by anyone who set foot on the park’s campgrounds. This intimate affair is still a hidden gem, but don’t be surprised if this little party gets a whole lot bigger by this time next year.

Special guests rule the night at Karl Denson’s post-Outside Lands superjam

Karl Denson's Tiny UniverseBy Steve Carlson //

Outside Lands night show: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe superjam with special guests //
The Independent – San Francisco
August 9th, 2015 //

Karl Denson brought his jazz/funk band Tiny Universe and a variety of special guests to The Independent to close out Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2015 with one last late-night jam, and a capacity crowd was on hand to party along with him into the night.

The show was scheduled to start around 10 p.m., just after Elton John officially closed the festival at Golden Gate Park, but to the frustration of more than a few, including some fans who had traveled from as far away as Monterey, Calif., the show didn’t kick off until nearly 11:30 p.m. Once Denson took the stage and launched into “New Ammo” though, all was quickly forgiven.

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

Over the course of the next two hours, Denson brought out guest after guest to help keep the party going, whether it was his old friends in Slightly Stoopid, Ian Neville of Dumpstaphunk, Alex Bleeker of Real Estate (for a beautiful rendition of The Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie”) or perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole evening, Paul Janeway of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, who had ditched his trademark suit for a T-shirt and baseball cap and proceeded to improvise a passionate cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” for the rapturous audience.

The show also leaned heavily on hometown talent with local favorite Nicki Bluhm taking the stage for a few songs, including a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Tumblin’ Dice”, while the always-magnetic Ziek McCarter of Con Brio made an unannounced appearance after his Outside Lands “Sexual Chocolate” set with Denson earlier in the day. It was nice to see Denson give both Bluhm and McCarter generous stage time, reminding everybody in the house how lucky we are to have such incredible talent right here in SF.

Outside Lands 2015 highlights: Eight years strong and feeling ‘fantastic’!

Outside Lands 2015Photos by James Nagel, Marc Fong & Benjamin Wallen // Written by Molly Kish, Nik Crossman & Brett Ruffenach //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 7th-9th, 2015 //

We’re finally putting our lives back together after what was easily the biggest and most raging Outside Lands to date in its eight years. This year, local concert production company Another Planet Entertainment outdid itself on all fronts, bringing the best the Bay Area had to offer to Golden Gate Park. They pulled out all the stops and man, did they deliver!

From the amazing lineup of music, comedy, food and beverage to the near perfect weather and best crowd of characters you could ask for, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has officially become a bar-setting force to be reckoned with on the festival circuit. Those lucky enough to attend this year will wholeheartedly agree that the festival has become not only a staple within the Bay Area community, but also a premiere destination for crowds from around the world and one of the fastest growing festival experiences currently in production.

Here’s what stood out to us at Showbams in 2015. What was your standout moment?

Outside Lands 2015

TOP SETS:

Artist: Lindsey Stirling
Set date/time: Friday, 3:40-4:30 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Hailing from Gilbert, Ariz., Lindsey Stirling leaped around the Twin Peaks stage on Friday afternoon with violin in hand. Combining classical violin riffs with modern electronic beats, Stirling had the entire crowd dancing alongside while she made use of every inch of the stage. Despite her modesty, Lindsey put the violin down and treated Outside Lands with a rare and beautiful singing performance. Based on the reaction to the violin fairy’s voice, Stirling should be proud to put her strings down from time to time. -NC

Outside Lands 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard

Artist: D’Angelo & The Vanguard
Set date/time: Friday, 7:45-9 p.m.
Location: Sutro

“The Black Messiah” made his triumphant return to the Bay Area on Friday evening for a soul-clapping set with a sea of devoted fans. Outside of Karl Denson’s mighty performance on the Twin Peaks stage later on in the weekend, this was one of the few opportunities for funk fans to get down this year — and D’Angelo pulled out all the stops. Mirroring more of a religious revival than a R&B jam session, the sunset spectacle hit the crowd’s Friday night sweet spot. D’Angelo’s silky smooth vocals ushered in all the post-work/late arrivals, crooning out audience favorites from his latest joint “Ain’t That Easy” and “Sugah Daddy”, which book-ended a sultry set. For anyone who missed his sold-out shows at the Fox Theater Oakland earlier this year, the performance served as the perfect redemption amidst a collective of festival fans who all came prepared. -MK

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Angus & Julia Stone
Set date/time: Saturday, 4:20-5:10 p.m.
Location: Sutro

Recently reunited after a few years of time apart, the brother-and-sister duo played a mix of old and new hits at the Sutro stage on Saturday afternoon. Their latest album brings a new sound to their discography and marks a milestone of achievement for the Australian siblings. Anyone with a brother and/or sister can appreciate the banter shared between Angus and Julia on stage. Describing Angus laying in the grass of a park staring at the clouds as inspiration for “Other Things”, Julia poked fun at his peculiar “state of mind.” -NC

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Toro y Moi
Set date/time: Saturday, 5:15-6:05 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Chaz Bundick is almost a great artist. Touring with a new full band as opposed to his typical synth-and-drum-machine combo, the new sound of Toro y Moi is a very nice expansion on their sound. That being said, Toro y Moi seemed to often come up flat when singing throughout the set, leaving more to be desired. I did love the new version of “So Many Details”, though. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Tame Impala

Artist: Tame Impala
Set date/time: Saturday, 6:30-7:40 p.m.
Location: Lands End

As the de facto opener for The Black Keys, Tame Impala brought their heavy compositions and trippy visuals to the Lands End stage to the delight of a crowd of young, old, sober and heavily intoxicated folks alike. Tame Impala’s ability to expand on and change up their studio recordings is what makes them the greatest rock band touring right now — breakdowns and glitchy, sonic asides in songs like “Mind Mischief”, “Elephant” and “Apocalypse Dreams” came out of nowhere, creating a wave of awe and amazement in the crowd. They were certainly a highlight of the weekend. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Kendrick Lamar

Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Set date/time: Saturday, 8:40-9:55 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

As Kendrick Lamar’s incredible performance began to wrap up with his newest single “Alright”, a group of fans in the crowd proceeded to lift someone up in a wheelchair, who, if I recall correctly, was the same guy who had his photo famously taken at Outside Lands in 2013. Kendrick took notice and called him out — his sense of sincere appreciation for a place like the Bay Area was written all over his face. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Hot Chip

Artist: Hot Chip
Set date/time: Sunday, 4:20-5:20 p.m.
Stage: Lands End

An anxious crowd remained at the Lands Ends stage after Nate Reuss’ solo set on Sunday afternoon for an all-too-rare performance from percussion powerhouse Hot Chip. In recent years, only ever getting the chance to see the outfit in stripped-down DJ sets or as part of side projects/collaborations, the afternoon crowd full of die-hard, nu-disco fans were not disappointed as the UK dance veterans set the polo fields ablaze. Refraining from any slow builders, Hot Chip performed an hour-long set of career-spanning bangers, keeping the crowd moving with hit after hit, that seamlessly blended into one another. The set procured one of the most viral dance party moments of the festival, with the audience spiraling into a collective bliss as it came to a close. -MK

Outside Lands 2015 - Dan Deacon

Artist: Dan Deacon
Set date/time: Sunday, 5:55-6:35 p.m.
Location: Panhandle

Dan Deacon, everyone’s favorite electronic experimentalist and figurative “adult camp counselor”, was the perfect pick-me-up for a festival-weary crowd between neighboring bass-heavy sets from ODESZA and Caribou. Playing to a crowd partially made up of Deacon enthusiasts and otherwise occupied by enthralled passersby, the one-man spectacle reeled in a sizable audience to the Panhandle stage for a lesson in crowd participation that was rivaled by no other act over the course of the weekend. Excited to see how his live-show magic would translate to a large-scale festival crowd, the audience was equal parts bewildered and attentive as they were beckoned into a storm of peer pressure and oddball antics, maestro-ed by none other than the king of interactive showmanship. The crowd relinquished control of the moment to the man in charge as he orchestrated colorful coordination amongst a sea of noise and frenzied electronica. Needless to say, established fans of Mr. Deacon were pleased while new converts lives were changed on Sunday afternoon. -MK

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Caribou
Set date/time: Sunday, 6:40-7:40 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Described by fellow musician Dan Deacon as “one of the most brilliant acts touring right now” just before their set, Caribou lived up to the hype. Starting with “Our Love”, the four-piece band led by Dan Snaith perfectly set the stage for the next hour — a series of tightly wound compositions that, as the song progresses, expand in rhythmic complexity before reaching a climax that will get even the most tired Sunday afternoon crowd moving. Heavily augmenting its live performances from its studio recordings, the band’s live rendition of “Jamelia” in particular was a highlight of the set. Caribou is a band not to be missed. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Elton John

Artist: Elton John
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:35-9:35 p.m.
Location: Lands End

The star-spangled legend sat at his majestic piano as the sun went down on Sunday and moved the crowd with his brilliant playing. The adoring audience hung on every word and joined in singing his most popular hits. Walking off stage quickly after his last song, the audience demanded more and Elton happily obliged. With rumors of Lion King songs being played at past performances, some doting fans wanted a second encore to the tune of “Circle of Life”. While he didn’t indulge the Lion King fans, his stellar performance was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend at Outside Lands, leaving everyone’s festival tank full of love. -NC

Outside Lands 2015 - Mac Sabbath

OUTSIDE LANDS 2015 AWARDS:

Biggest a.m. crowd: Leon Bridges

Best make-out session: Angus & Julia Stone

Biggest equipment malfunction/distraction: St. Vincent’s blown-out sound system

Best stage dive: Mac Demarco (obviously)

Biggest band crush: Tie between Tame Impala and First Aid Kit

Best shirtless appearance: Billy Idol

King and Queen of GastroMagic: Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia & Brenda’s Soul Food; Morimoto Karaoke

Best Unofficial Stage: #NoMoFoMo by StubHub

Food & beverage crowd favorites: Berry Lemonade; Ringmaster Doughnut Cheeseburger

Best Avant-Garde Act: Lindsey Stirling

Sexiest Set of the Weekend: D’Angelo & The Vanguard

Best Fairground Change: The Barbary’s relocation

Rowdiest Crowd: Kendrick Lamar

Best Hometown Act: Green Velvet & Claude VonStroke

Best Vocals: St. Paul and The Broken Bones

Best Commitment to the Bit: Mac Sabbath with Richie Nakano

Most buzz-worthy artist: SZA

Best Crowd Participation: Dan Deacon

Biggest DJ Drop: ODESZA

Crowd Favorite DJ: DJ Mustard

Best Cover: Hot Chip’s transition from Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” into an outro snippet of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” to close their set.

Most “Fantastic”: Elton John