Outside Lands 2013 – Day 1 Outside Lands 2013 – Day 1

Words by Aaron, Pics by Ben.

Outside Lands 2013 Coverage:
Outside Lands Day 1 Photos and Review
Outside Lands Day 2 Photos and Review
Outside Lands Day 3 Photos and Review


The first day of a festival is always so exciting! So many possibilities! What bands to see? What drugs to do? Who to have sex with? What is the relative air speed of an unladen swallow? Why should I struggle to survive when life is so transient and fragile? Is reality just an illusion? Do I really exist? Those last few probably depend on what your answer to the drugs question. Regardless, the festival world is your oyster. Embrace it.


The National, accompanied by San Franciso’s own Kronos Quartet, performed a rousing set, surprisingly so in light of their often melancholic songs.

The National opened with “Fake Empire,” easing the crowd into their set with its spartan keyboard introduction behind singer Matt Berninger’s baritone vocal. The sparse arrangement soon gave way to heavy bass and progressively built to horn flourishes as the audience’s energy grew with that of the song.

The band then brought ought Kronos Quartet for string accompaniment as a (very) light rain began to fall on Golden Gate Park–providing a perfect opportunity for Berninger to don his sunglasses. They did look pretty bitchin’ though.

Berninger and company continued to build energy over the course of both their individual songs as well as over the entire set. Their songs, somewhat predictably, seemed to all start slow and grow to enthusiastic crescendos. “Conversation 16,” for example, started off pretty mellow, but finished with Berninger screaming and screeching “I was afraid I’d eat your brains,” over frantic guitar and horns. “This is the Last Time,” was terrific, but continued in much the same fashion. It did, however, trigger the following existential crisis in the guy standing next to me: “this has got me examining life, but, like, I’m not even here.” Truth.

The highlight of the set was the synth and drum heavy “Graceless,” which the band stretched out, giving singer Berninger the opportunity to jump off stage and head deep into the enthusiastic crowd, before climbing on top of a stack of speakers to finish the song out. The band was then joined by the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir for their final song, “Terrible Love.” The National then left the stage to warm applause as the crowd started flooding toward the stage for the upcoming Paul McCartney set.


I was heartbroken when I heard D’Angelo cancelled, although given his history, it came as no surprise. Performing in his place, closing the Sutro Stage for the day, was disco legends Chic, led by Nile Rodgers.

Rodgers is enjoying a career renaissance after being featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which likely led to Chic’s inclusion in the festival. Rodgers led Chic through all their hits, including “Le Freak,” and “Good Times,” as well as some others’, such as the Rodgers-penned Sister Sledge composition, “We Are Family.”


Sir Paul came out to the biggest and loudest crowd of the night, opening with the Beatles’ hit “Eight Days a Week,” before leading his band through a string of Beatles’, Wings’, and solo hits.

The over two-hour set included, “Get Back,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die,” and an impressive rendition of “Hey Jude,” before McCartney’s two encores. The first three song encore featured “Day Tripper,” and “Get Back,” before he came back for a second encore, opening with “Yesterday,” accompanied by the Kronos Quartet, then my personal favorite of the night, “Helter Skelter.” McCartney closed the night with the Beatles’ “The End,” under a barrage of fireworks.

At 71, McCartney’s still got it, and has put together a fantastic band to back him. It’s not seeing the Beatles’, but McCartney more than holds his own. His performance, and the audio-visual pyrotechnic spectacle that when along with it, was definitely the highlight of the night.

Other artists of OSL 2013 – Day 1:




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