Outside Lands – Day 3 2012 Outside Lands – Day 3 2012

Words by Aaron Lavine // Photos By Ben Irwin

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Whew. Day 3. Here we go. It’s hard to get going on the third day of a festival. I’ve found that heavy drinking helps. Ironically, that’s what started this whole problem in the first place, but I’d put off the day of reckoning until Monday.


They have more than one song! They’re pretty good! That guy really does have some pipes (and silly preppy-hipster, check-out-my-ankles-in-these-rolled-up-white-jeans style). fun. even had the balls to not save the ubiquitous earworm “We Are Young” for last, and went on to lead their fans through a respectable sing-along rendition of the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I was fully prepared to write off fun., but I’ll begrudgingly admit that they rose to the occasion and put on a strong performance.

Franz Ferdinand

Judging by my notes, Franz Ferdinand put on a solid show. The notes say I liked it. They also say I still think they sound like a not-as-good version of Interpol. But for whatever reason, Franz Ferdinand made absolutely no impression on me. I’m struggling to remember a single thing about their set, which is how I’ve always felt about Franz Ferdinand: they’re a perfectly good band, that happens to also be perfectly forgettable. That said, they played the hits (the notes told me so!), with the homoerotic “Micheal” and also “Take Me Out,” both off of their rightly-praised 2004 debut album, standing out in their set.

Regina Spektor

Electric Guest

Amadou & Miriam

Amadou & Miriam are part of a vibrant, and frankly all-around terrific, West African music scene. If you don’t like afrobeat, I don’t like you. This isn’t quite afrobeat, however. The blind duo Amadou & Miriam combine the polyrhythmic music of their native Mali with a blues rock sensibility. And a kickass hand drum. Even if the enthusiastic crowd couldn’t sing along—the pair sings in French and their native tongue—they were definitely dancing enough to more than make up for it.

Jack White

As expected, Jack White—along with his badass white cowboy boots—was one of the highlights of the festival. White is touring in support of his new album Blunderbuss but you wouldn’t know it from his Outside Lands set which featured not only standout tracks from Blunderbuss, but also a list of “greatest hits” from his other bands/projects.

Rumor has it that White also staged a guerrilla-style show with his all-female touring band, The Peacocks, on a dusty dirt trail in between stages, where he’d parked the Third Man Records record-store truck. For his performance on the main stage, White was backed by Los Buzzardos, his all-male backing band for this tour. With White at the helm, Los Buzzardos made their mark on even old White Stripes numbers, at times gettin’ a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. Those guys can fucking play, and were really pouring their hearts into the music.

Their set included White Stripes songs such as, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” “John the Revelator,” “We’re Going to be Friends,” and a searing, rip-roaring, balls-out version of “Seven Nation Army” as an encore. They didn’t stick to just the White Stripes and Blunderbuss, however, and also played Dead Weather hit “Cut Like a Buffalo,” and the Jack White vocal track “Two Against One” off of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi’s Rome album.

Jack White is consistently one of the best live acts around today, and his performance here was no exception.

Stevie Wonder

That guy is a hit machine. He’s not one of those acts where you keep saying to yourself, “Shit, I didn’t know that was him!” It’s just hard to wrap your head around how many of his songs are completely ingrained into our collective cultural subconscious. You can sing along to all of them. Which most of the crowd did.

Stevie came out with a keytar for a rambling, meandering, 10-minute version of “How Sweet It Is,” with an interlude about the merits of reelecting President Obama.

As an aside, in maybe 2003, I saw the Black Keys open up for Beck in Irvine. I dig them now, but back then, they were shit live. Anyway, someone came out with a keytar, prompting the teenage girl sitting behind us to blurt out “Nothing says I have a small penis like playing a keytar.” So that may explain Stevie’s divorce.

Stevie went on to play “Higher Ground,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” with some great harmonica work, John Lennon’s “Imagine.” By the time he got to a three song run of “Feel It All Over,” “I Wish,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” everyone in the crowd was dancing their ass off. Stevie mellowed things out with “My Cherie Amour,” before breaking into the middle of “In the City” to let us know that no one can truly be free until we end racism and hatred. Preach brother!

Stevie is not just a master of the piano, keytar and harmonica. He’s also pretty damn good on the harpejji. No, I had to google it too. The website says it’s “a member of a small family of stringed musical instruments known as tapping instruments. Tapping instruments are descendents (sic) of the electric guitar but are optimized for a style of playing that involves tapping the strings to produce a note.” Twenty-four strings. Fifteen frets. Cool, I guess?

Mr. Wonder resumed the dance party with a rollicking version of “Superstitious,” leading into “Isn’t She Lovely.” It was around this time that I remembered Skrillex was playing on the other side of the park. If you want to know what’s wrong with America, you need to look no further than that some people (it’s probably those goddamn 1-percenters), when given the opportunity to see Stevie Wonder, chose to see Skrillex instead. Just sayin’.

Stevie chose to end the night with covers of the Beatles’ “She Loves You” followed by leading the crowd in a sing-along of the Temptations’ “My Girl.” The comforting, sunny nostalgia of Stevie Wonder left a smile on everyone’s face and provided a fitting end to a fantastic three days of music.

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