Sunday was the last call for Outside Lands Bay Area madness, for now, anyway.
This year’s festival drew a crowd so big that Uber felt the need to charge a $60 minimum for a ride after each night’s end — from Golden Gate Park to the Outer Mission.
I’m not proud of some of the exuberant purchases I made there, but sometimes a $16 dollar carne asada burrito and $5 lemonade is just necessary.
It’s fitting that the three-day festival that came at a ticket cost of $426, on layaway, jacked up the food prices and cut back the quantities. The Back Wine, at $20 per head for a wine pours and mini golf, was decidedly where it was at for cash longevity. Barbacks explained it as “the best bang for your putt.”
Puns are fun, but music is better.
Judah & The Lion
To those who stuck around all three days, SFBay feels your exhaustion. Seriously. These events aren’t for the faint of heart, chiefly if you’re in the pits and need a telescope to see performers on stage. The last should be plenty loud but chill, and that’s exactly what Judah & The Lion brought to the table.
Band members Judah Akers, Brian Macdonald and Nate Zuercher tickled the ears with an anthemic quality of Americana that doesn’t usually get the praise it deserves. Think Mumford and Sons on a punk exploration.
Like blink-182, they don’t take themselves too seriously and have fun with the crowd. Hell, they even played a cover of blink’s “All The Small Things” for those who missed out on Friday’s show.
Nearing the end of their set on Lands End, a ream of intimidating and muscular men wearing leotards jogged out and covered the stage, dancing circa 80’s workout video. Throw in a little mandolin and banjo, and you can’t go wrong.
Walking up on the Lands End stage holding her acoustic guitar, the ever so cute Kacey Musgraves opened her pre-sunset set with a mellow, soothing “Slow Burn.”
Her perfect mix of country twang and pop drives away any negativity lurking in the background. The powerhouse knows a thing or two about negativity — she was recently accused of “liking” a Kid Rock tweet dissing Taylor Swift, but it was later discovered that the whole debacle stemmed from a manipulated image. Oh, social media.
Musgraves told her audience:
“I want you to forget about anything remotely negative that might be happening in your life right now and just have fun.”
Does this sound like someone in the Kid Rock camp?
But back to the music.
The performer wowed the audience with her rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Passersby were caught off guard by the country singer and the crowd grew as people were drawn in like she was a magnet.
Musgraves’ performance was a sweet tart in a messy and divided world.
Armed with Elvis and Chuck Berry vibes, the bombastic Leon Bridges and his band inched forward on Lands End.
If I could seamlessly break the boundaries of funk and jazz, I’d probably be as comfortable as Leon Bridges was sporting all denim and mutton chops as he danced and belted with flair.
The Bridges show, and especially the splendor of emotions that is “Beyond,” worked up some good Sunday feels that lasted all damn day.
If we can’t have anything nice, let us at least have Bridges’ glossy and raspy voice that throws back to the glory of ’60s Motown.
Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals
Down at the Sutro Stage, parked just to the left of the northern main entrance, a man with a muted trumpet strutted and played before a lawn of people as far as the eye could see.
The Free Nationals arrived one by one jamming out on electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and drums.
The funky man himself, Anderson .Paak, threw his sticks down on the drums, rapping and keeping complex rhythms in check.
As hard as some artists work, you have to give .Paak props for mastering the art of playing the drums while singing and rapping. That’s no easy feat but the accomplished .Paak makes it look like he’s on a joy ride, and that could be all he’s on.
.Paak told his doting fans he was sober but “never felt higher.”
“I’m still an animal, motherfuckers.”
.Paak’s large, bright smile shined through the Sutro screens as he danced like we all wish we could. But skills or not, he had everyone moving — the babies on shoulders, the grandmas and everyone in between was out there gettin’ it.
The Free Nationals brought along some super bumping bass that, unfortunately, traveled a little too close to the more tranquil and legendary Paul Simon on Lands End.
Nevertheless, .Paak and his beautiful band lay everyone else to rest on the third and final festival day.
Coming out of retirement, a little-known artist by the name of Paul Simon headlined Sunday’s lineup.
Backed up by strings, flutes and trumpets, Simon’s repertoire of solid hits doesn’t have the aggressiveness of Twenty One Pilots or Childish Gambino, but he has the heart and soul of every artist on the lineup combined.
He exclaimed, “THIS is live music!”
No mosh pits, no head-banging.
Like a concert in your local community park, Simon always brings the down-to-earth, relatable show spiked with the pure genius that earned him his rightful place among the music gods.
Sandwiched between EDM artist Kygo on one side of the festival grounds and the eclectic force of Anderson .Paak on the other, Simon’s performance in the middle was a reprieve for some, and a nightmare dilemma for genre-crossing music lovers. It was an audio feast of diversity. It was a celebration of new sounds with mad respect for the OG pioneers.
The best way to end such a historic festival was after, and only after, the playful “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and the haunting beauty of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
And with that, Outside Lands 2019, which came in with a bang, went out with a sweetly soft-spoken, memorable whisper.
Worth shelling out $15 for a burrito? Maybe.