A list of Bay Area concerts to see this fall

The National at Berkeley's Greek Theater, Saturday, October 14th

Van Morrison at Oakland's Fox Theater, Friday, October 20th

Arcade Fire at Oakland's Oracle Arena, Saturday, October 21st

Real Estate at Oakland's Fox Theater, Friday, October 27th

Trey Anastasio at Oakland's Fox Theater, Friday, November 3rd

LCD Soundsystem at SF's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Wednesday, November 15th 

Dispatch at SF's Fillmore, Thursday, November 30th

Angus and Julia Stone at SF's Fillmore, Sunday, December 3rd

Tribe on Zimmy

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By J. Tribe

Bob Dylan.

Two words encompassing life’s dictionary, encyclopedia of intangible experience, sensory perception of life’s palpability, of the infinity of selves, oceans of emotions, deserts, jungles, turquoise and the world’s biggest necklace, Cecil B DeMille, Fat Nancy, Georgia Sam, William Zanzinger, highways of diamonds with nobody on them, Jesus in the Garden, Jokerman and The Man in the Long Black Coat, booze, brothels, floods, Acapulco, San Franciscah, Ashtabula, Lenny Bruce, Joey Gallo, yass... Bob Dylan means princes, paupers, peasants, kings, pawned diamond rings—Bob Dylan is infinity gone up on trial, acquitted by God, of everything. And everything, he serenades us, is broken.

Bob Dylan says Woody Guthrie songs teach you how to live; well, my friend, Bob Dylan songs teach you how to express. And in this dance of death we call life, it’s expression that’s savior – our internal voice, the messianic mechanism unknown by names less opaque than Spirit or Soul. Bob Dylan knows that Bob Dylan Knows nothing, that none of us really Know anything. He is the Dragon, the Knight, the Mirror of the Mind where all deals go down. Bob Dylan is here to remind us that only a fool here, would think he has anything to prove. Uncle Bobby, always available to anyone willing or able to accept it… THAT IT IS NOT HE OR SHE OR THEM OR IT THAT YOU BELONG TO. They told him to sing while he slaved, but being of Slavic extraction, he just got bored… But he sang alright…

To live outside the law you must be honest, what’s it mean? Just an observatory obviousness unsaid & unsung till harpooned from the Good Ship Zimmy, god-shipped, as god still sends his godsends everywhere but the worldwide web and no amount of youtube rabbit holes or memes or facecunt instafuck fuckface social malice, mayhem or psychic murder can unring bells Bobby smashed with gongs, the hits from Rolling Stone bongs, everybody must get stoned is a Biblical tune, Rainy Day Women welcomed aboard the USS Zimmerman, refugees of Gomorrah, Joshua and his genocidal trumpets of Jericho, Bob Dylan, living miracle: a man doing what he’s born to do, like Bo Jackson or Steph Curry, Pollack, amid the imposition of mindless consumerism, societies of guilt and fear, free from the trials of metaphysical persecutors within, in the background of all the black & white news, indecipherable still (Nobel Prizes withstanding) to Time magazine, on the hilltop looking down on the lynchings, of which they still sell postcards, there’s god blessed goddamned Bob Dylan to tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, to reflect from the goddamn mountain (of his own making) so any motherfucker willing & able to accept it can see it, that The Law is anything but honest, that shit is fucked, if you don’t look away, if you have the balls to not look away, to look at one’s bed and say whether or not it’s fucking made, the simple (yet impossible feeling) act of telling your daughter the dog is dead.

Bob Dylan exists in karmic payment for other rock stars’ sins, the stars nothing more than something they invested in, chiefly their addiction to the pleasure of praise, the hedonistic zeal with which they crave yacht-loads like bankers with nothing more to say or add to the human equation than bankers can add which is nothing and this is true and to test it scientifically, put on any Bob Dylan record and say it ain’t so. Any of ‘em. But make it vinyl (why not—a hipster within arm’s reach’s got a fucking phonograph, I’ll bet my right nut)—fuck that, whatever the fuck, put on a Bob Dylan song and explain the humanity of the law, of any set or system of human institutions, where’s the humanity? Where’s the humanity, the humanness, the Holy Spirit God how can there not be more humane words for human beings? Daniel saw the stone; Jeremiah foretold the calamities we encounter – these times ain’t no different than those of Early Roman Kings…

Bob Dylan sees the simple things. Every grain of sand – it’s just a perspective… not A perspective, or Perspective C, B, or G, it ain’t dogma or doctrine that’s Dylan, it’s the orthodoxy of unorthodoxy, spiritual autonomy, the gall to ask if birds are free from the chains of the skyway. It’s the perspective to see the silver lining in failure, perspective as a muscle – the kinesiology of perspective – Robert Zimmerman could have done his PhD on it – the karmic influence on endocrinology; no doubt, had old Bobby Zimmerman become a dentist, he wouldn’t have been stingy with the Novocain. He’s a human being, Bob Dylan. He’s a lot of open tuning, a lot of let’s try it in uh, b-flat, he’s Tweeter and he’s the Monkeyman, guys we know, he’s America and it’s not our fault but there it is nonetheless: Ira Hayes, Hattie Carroll, Hurricane Carter, Hollis Brown, Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Old John Brown and unknown good old boy off to fight the good old-fashioned war john brown, it’s there, we’re here, he’s there, Together Through Life, Time Out of Mind, the catalogue itself a lexicon – see the Network’s Programming Board in masked & anonymous… see that fucking movie…

Bob Dylan is uncomfortable truths said straight-faced with the ease with which Clint Eastwood murders, Bob Dylan truth-tells, and it’s because Clint Eastwood will always be out-adored by the American public that we have Trump… We prefer even Trump, to Napoleon in rags, and the language that he uses. Bob Dylan is there to hear the chimes of freedom flash for the warriors whose strength is not to fight, and to America, still, today, on the right, on the left, that’s Crazy Pinko Commie Anarchist Nonsense, we need Hillary! we need Trump! we need Nobody! But nobody, and I mean nobody is looking for warriors whose strength is not to fight… nobody but Bob Dylan is out there saying to take the orphans and place them at the feet of harlots; ain’t no Ashkenazi but Bob Dylan with the brains he was born with to know that even the President of the United States must sometimes stand naked and it’s Bob Dylan who reminds us it matters not who the president be, when one takes the perspective of the storyteller, we’re all unintentional native sons of the first ever, wholly unconscious empire.

Bob Dylan: scribe, court-jester, carny, song & dance man, Huck Finn, the best white man any of us can be, Bobby D, though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried, the Germans now too, have God on their side, it’s not cute, the overriding irony… it ain’t postmodern or post-postmodern, it ain’t semantical or academic or intellectual or trite – but goddammit it’s funny – it’s fun and funny both – to attune to your own wavelength, as it appears Dylan does, absolutely immune to outside influence, at one with one’s breath Bob Dylan… he’s Joyce, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Leadbelly, Guthrie, Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Mister Bojangles, Little Richard, Rimbaud … he’s Muhammad Ali trapped in the body of Woody Allen. He’s NOT everyman. He’s not all of us. He’s the apotheosis of the opposite of the voice of his or any other generation. He’s him. You are you. He and she and them and it are he and she and them and it and you do not belong to them. You may be tangled up in blue, mighta spent a day too long in Mississippi, coulda had a world war go thru your brain, worried over the city fathers’ fearfulness of the reincarnation of Paul Revere’s horse, realized that the national bank for profit just sells roadmaps to the soul to the old folks home and the college, maybe you ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes, maybe the preposterousness, pretentiousness, unusual cruelness of American justice, maybe for you too, it’s all just a given …

It’s Alright, Ma, it’s life and life only and Bob Dylan, the vessel he be, seafaring, like Melville but better, the Captain Ahab of his times, Robert Zimmerman created Bob Dylan to harpoon songs from the oceanic abyss – the mind of god – I don’t write them he rightfully insists … they’re there, he just writes them down with a pencil. And sings them. Because he feels like singing. And sings from the heart, from the soul, the solar plexus, the back of the brain, it ain’t pretty, it’s the blues, but the blues is happy music, and all music is blues or zippity doo-dah and I know one thing, nobody can sum up such things like Townes Van Zandt… He said that. Impervious to peers, impervious to time, impervious to crime, even and most importantly Maritime Law, the Good Ship Bobby D, where so-called sinners and miscalled saints co-mingle, are they willing and able to adhere to a strict to-each-their-own non-doctrine and uphold absolute abstinence when it comes to yelling Which Side Are You On? Lest that is, you’re referring to that iconic yet unknown Henry Miller ultimatum in which he sought to divide America once and for all between those for the book which says Thou Shalt not Kill and the infinity of munitions manuals – Bob Dylan is American Gospel, the purest ever produced by a paleface…

Fecund Bob Dylan, redemptive grain of American sand, thank you, for rhyming sonsuvbitches and orphanages, for thinkin’ bout Alicia Keys, for sharing your Visions of Johanna, for being the Tambourine Man, for rediscovering dignity in an undignified age, for not thinking twice, for not looking back, for being another man in black, for walking the line and for hosting Bob Dylan Radio Hour… Thanks for those deep knee-bends the past quarter century. Thanks for the funky black key organ riffs from 2009 and the Warren Zevon covers from 2002-3. Thank you for opening with Wait for the Light to Shine when my brother was dying and playing Boots of Spanish Leather for first true love Tia in Sacramento and Love Minus Zero in Frisco for my sister Jessica. Thank you for your scowling skulk when receiving the Medal of Freedom from Obama, and for the awkwardness, the true nobility with which you received nonsensical Nobel grace. Thank you, Bob, for not ever giving one single fuck. Thank you for saying it ain’t me babe to so many fucks who wanted you to give us things we did not need. Thank you for remaining forever young. And for mentioning all the ghosts. The ghost of slavery ships, that old ghost road Ku Klux Klan, the ghost of our old love taking so long to die, the ghost of ‘lectricity that howls in the bones of her face… Thank you for playing in Ho Chi Minh City. Thank you for the subpar 80s albums littered with throwaway genius… Thank you for Brownsville Girl… Till the wheels fall off and burn, here’s to you Bob Dylan… Chuck Berry is dead. I’m proposing a toast to the king.

 

By Josh Tribe, for Bob Dylan, on the occasion of his 76th birthday

24 May, 2017

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Five songs for Bob Dylan's 76th birthday

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By Josh Hunsucker | josh@section925.com

Just over 19 years ago, I heard "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan and never looked back.  In the past 19 years I have countless missteps and wrong turns, but there is one thing that I never took for granted or got my signals crossed on, DYLAN.

America's poet laureate turns 76 today.  In celebration of his birthday, our in house Dylan sommelier has given us five vintage Dylan offerings:

1) Highlands

2) This Wheel's On Fire

3) Forever Young

4) My Back Pages

5) My Back Pages (because both are too good to leave the other out)

The Most Relevant Coachella Performance You Probably Missed: Ezra Furman

By Kyle Heise

The first Youtube comment reads “It was hot and early in the day...”  And I’m sure it was. Now, I didn’t attend the festival held in the desert out in Indio, but I can imagine the hardcore festival go-ers were not up early to see San Francisco-via-Chicago transplant Ezra Furman give the most relevant monologue of the festival. Angled shots of the crowd confirm the scant attendance. But that doesn’t stop Ezra, a gender fluid punk rocker dressed in a black dress,  pearls and hot red lipstick, from dropping some very real and apparent truths towards the beginning of his set. Furman began speaking “isn’t this a joyful kind of music” as the drums kicked in to his strident track “Tell ‘Em All to Go to Hell”, adding “it’s about frustration, I’d say.” The saxophone began tooting and Furman drizzled into riffing across the stage.

As the song breaks down into heavy breathing and what Furman describes as a “good B-flat rhythm,” Furman unloaded a heartfelt monologue to the crowd. He prefaced by dedicating the song to the parent company of Coachella, AEG, and its owner Philip Anschutz. Coachella is owned by Golden Voice, who is owned by major conglomerate AEG, Anschutz Entertainment Group. What followed was a scathingly powerful, yet very real truth about Coachella and consumerism.

What many people overlook in regards to the festival’s past is that its roots began in 1993 as a free concert put on by Pearl Jam against the service charges added on top of regular ticket prices by Ticketmaster. Following a public tussle, the band opted to play far out in the desert for free rather than play in LA proper and subject their fans to the service fees. Fast forward over two decades laters Now the festival is one of the most corporatized events in California each year; Hollywood loves to hire and pay people to attend to help market themselves. It’s almost less about the music and more about taking a sweaty and delirious photo in the desert. The festival even went full corporate minion in 2012 by spreading the festival over two weekends under the guise of better attendee experience. Safe to say, profit margins drove that decision.

And money does drive our society, says Furman in his attack against his “main man” Anschutz. Furman begins by explaining Anschutz is the “son of an oil tycoon, oil tycoon himself” and describes him as a complicated man who is “big proponent of wind energy” and has dabbled in “highly invasive” oil exploits. Easy to see that Furman recognizes power in Anschutz and his role in the Establishment. Furman belts that Anschutz “sues towns” that refuse to allow him to frack in there and paints a powerful image of Anschutz’ ambitions. But Furman also hints at knowing the history of the festival and how money (or in Pearl Jam’s case lack of it) can make a statement.

Furman, himself, a member of the LGBT+ community, revealed Anschutz donates wildly to anti-LGBT+ causes and far-right Christian groups. “So,” Ezra says addressing a crowd most likely in support of his side of the cause, the “triple-digits” (certainly many people spent thousands) paid to attend the festival “line billionaires pockets, do you understand?” He’s reminding the audience that they made a choice to attend the festival and are fortunate enough to have the funds to be there. In our modern consumer American society, money is speech. And Furman concurs. In turn he essentially told the audience how spending money is how we express our political beliefs in the modern society: “You do have a say in that shit,” he remarks. And it’s entirely true. So, when AEG and Anschutz or whoever the corporate tycoon is who markets products ignores “the values you [the consumer] profess to try to live by,” Furman delivers some telltale advice with just “seven little words:” Tell ‘em all to go to hell. Don’t remain silent and realize that your money can actually be used to fight back. Just like Pearl Jam decided to opt away, so can consumers. I don’t think Furman is suggesting people skip attendance of the festival. On the contrary, I think he is just reminding people of the matrix in which money is entangled these days and that your money can be speech in regards to many contemporary issues. As if we didn’t realize, Furman reminds us midway through his monologue: “It’s protest music.” Yes indeed, Ezra: you tell ‘em; keep telling us all the truths we need to hear.

Shows to see before 2017

2016 has been a rough year for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. But there is still time to get out a see a show before the ball drops. Here are some options to wet your appetite. 


Stevie Nicks (Wednesday, December 14th, SAP Center, San Jose)


G-Eazy (Wednesday, December 14th, Oracle Arena, Oakland)


The Expendables (Saturday, Decebmer 17th, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz)


Trey Songz (Sunday, December 18th, Oracle Arena, Oakland)


Kodak Black (Wednesday, December 21st, Regency Ballroom, San Francisco)


Too $hort (Friday, December 23rd, 1015 Folsom, San Francisco)


Chuck Prophet (New Year's Eve, The Starry Plough, Berkeley)

"Don't Let Your Heart Stray" - The Fame Riot's first national tour pulses with love, energy

Shazam (on keyboard) and Liz leave it all out onstage every night on tour. (photos courtesy of thefameriot.com)

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

Deep in the middle of their first national tour, The Fame Riot visited San Francisco’s Neck of the Woods in the Richmond District on the last Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. The electro-pop/garage-rock sibling duo arrived in the Bay Area in their trusted 12 passenger van, short on sleep and long on caffeine and the dream of becoming bonafide rock stars. The Tacoma, Washington natives were opening for Radkey (a trio of brothers in their own right) and made sure to deliver a passionate, loud, emotional and memorable performance for the city they call their favorite behind only Seattle.

“People ask us if we’re twins and we say yes,” explains Liz Scarlett, the green-haired younger brother of the band at 21. Shazam Watkins, 24, is the elder statesman of the duo, and on this night he was donning red locks to accentuate his dark eye-liner. Their appearance is the first thing you notice about The Fame Riot, aside from perhaps the music itself. But it all seems to tie in together nicely, as both brothers prove to be natural (and effective) showman both onstage and off.

Despite sporting different last names, “Liz” and “Shazam” are more family oriented than you might initially imagine. “Both of our parents are ministers and leaders in their church. They are both great people,” explains Liz. “We also have three older brothers, and yeah they’re all married. We’re like the reckless twins at the end of the tale.”

Part of the brothers’ recklessness can be traced back to their family’s decision to home school Liz and Shazam rather than send them to the potentially mind-numbing endeavor that is American high school. “We said ‘fuck the system,’” explains Liz in a matter-of-fact tone, with a smile on his face. “The system is fucked and we stayed out of it. And I think we benefited from that decision. I wish more people could do the same.”

Liz melting faces. 

Their teenage years spent outside the confines of “The System” were clearly not wasted, as both boys dove headlong into creative pursuits both in music, fashion and beyond, all more or less free of distraction. The result is a pair of brothers with more positive and passionate energy than normal, who seem most at ease when they are living a life as eclectic and original as possible.

By the time Liz and Shazam were approaching college age, the brothers had scrapped their gigs at the church and began showing their true colors, both literally and figuratively. Inspired by the bands they weren’t supposed to be listening to, the brothers began emulating various flavors of bad boy rock and rollers. Ones that stood for something bigger than themselves and made people think, move, and feel.

In 2014, after years in their garage, the brothers dropped their first EP, titled Dust Funk, complete with seven songs that have a way of waking you up and pulsing through your body in a positive way. Two years later, another couple songs were added to the original EP, giving the pair enough material to set off on their first coast-to-coast tour. “Heart Stray” is The Fame Riot’s current single in circulation, which has been a hit on the radio in the least likeliest of places (Kansas City, Missouri, etcetera).

In quiet conversation, the brothers are as intellectual and articulate as you could ever want when you’re dealing with a pair of budding rockstars. Self-proclaimed people who “won’t talk about politics,” Liz and Shazam are easily suckerd into providing insightful ideas on the direction of America since the travesty of Trump’s election. “Let’s stop talking about fucking politics,” says Shazam in his effective analysis of the mainstream media or “MSM” as he un-fondly calls it.  

Brothers feeling the love.

Onstage, The Fame Riot is not afraid to speak in British accents to go along with their edgy choice in attire. To them, the event and show is just as important as the music itself. They explain that “coming to the Fame Riot” is a highly charged event spurred on by the people in the room listening to the music. “It’s a show because of the people that are there,” says Liz in all sincerity.

Despite a small crowd of loyal listeners on this fogged in Sunday, these brothers certainly brought The Fame Riot to San Francisco. Shazam steadily bounced around on the keyboard, his muscular face rarely visible behind his extravagant mane of hair. Liz shredded on the guitar from start to finish, with each song bringing a fresh burst of loud energy that the crowd couldn’t help but feel and respond to.

By the time the set was finished, there was no wonder why this band is continuing to ascend to new heights within their genre. Yes, they’ve already been featured in studio on the famed KEXP radio in Seattle and have shared the stage with GroupLove and Chromeo, but the time is now where they are getting to spread their wings across the U.S. and share their energetic showmanship on a nightly basis.  

“The people we’ve met has been the biggest surprise on tour so far. So many people have stepped up and taken us in, setting us up with a place to crash and get ready for the next night’s show. Friends of friends, distant cousins, you name it,” explains Shazam. “This is like our demo tour, we are learning a lot. It’s not easy playing with that much emotion every night. Teas, essential oils, eating healthy, we are doing everything we can.”

Although the duo is willing to admit the hardships of touring on a shoestring budget, their passionate outlook on their music and the world at large easily keep their fire fueled. And while their music has strayed far from the confines of American churches or poetry found in classrooms, the intent is similar. “Strip the skin off of us and we’re all the same. We just want to make music that inspires people,” says Shazam. Spend a night at The Fame Riot and you might find you’ll see more than just a show. It runs much deeper than that.  

Radkey and The Fame Riot set to play San Francisco November 20th

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

This Sunday, Neck of the Woods on Clement street in SF will be hosting a night of music with Radkey (a garage-punk trio made up of three brothers) and their opener The Fame Riot (an alternative-pop duo). The intimate San Francisco setting should provide a loud and energized vibe for these two up-and-coming bands.

Radkey is comprised of brothers Dee Radke on guitar/vocals, Isiaiah Radke III on bass/vocals and Solomon Radke on drums. Solomon is the baby of the family at just 19, while Dee heads up the cast at age 23. The band produces a brand of energetic punk rock inspired by their musically inclined father. As they now start to come into their own, the band has enjoyed success at music festivals across the pond and back including the Reading and Leads Festival and the Download Festival in the UK, not to mention Riot Fest and Coachella back stateside.

Meanwhile, alternative-pop duo The Fame Riot comes to SF supporting their new single, “Heart Stray.” Liz Scarlett and Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins make up the duo who ironically stem from minister parents. The pair is far from buttoned up on stage, instead pursuing a persona of gender-fluidity and eccentric fashion that their growing fan base has learned to love. The Fame Riot has recently shared the stage with big names including Chromeo, Grouplove and DJ Shadow just to name a few. And as the band continues to pump out catchy pop records, expect this list to continue to grow.   

Damien Jurado plays Swedish American Hall in SF on October 21st

"Working Titles"

You could mess up my life in a poem
Have me divorced by the time of the chorus
There's no need to change any sentence
When you always decide where I go next

Many nights you would hide from the audience
When they were not in tune with your progress
In the end you're a fool like the journalist
Who turns what you sing into business

You could use to be more like a hero
A darker shade of damage distortion
Wearing death like a cape or a costume
Cut your ties and leave town when you want to

Killing time 'til I pass through the chamber
Or the room you keep my replacement
so fed up, still you're starving on paper
You're no him, but he's you, only better

Leave me an exit to damage
I could use a ledge to jump off of
I wasn't lying when I said this was over
I have questions that lead to more questions

Running time that will cut off my fingers
You wrote about me on every new record
And I'll show up in a title of your song
I only hope somebody requests it

What's it like for you in Washington
I've only seen photos of Washington
I'll never know

Leave me Manhattan, I want the evergreens
Write me a song I can sing in my sleep
As sure as the rain that will fall where you stand
I want you and the skyline, these are my demands

What's it like for you in Washington
I've only seen photos of Washington
I'll never know, know

Hercules' own HBK Gang plays The Warfield

(Photo via hbkiamsu.com)

By Mikhil Chemburkar

Last Saturday night in San Francisco, The Heartbreak (HBK) Gang took 2,250 apmed-up concert goers at The Warfield on a one-way ticket to Shmop City. Liveliness was tangible on the warm night by the Bay, beginning with the line outside the venue, all the way to the very end of the event. Show openers (and Bay Area natives) Dave Steezy, Skipper, and Show Banga had the crowd on their side and feeling their high energy performances.

The chemistry on display during and between acts was unsurprising to anyone who knows the origins of the HBK Gang. The hip-hop collective, created in 2008 is mostly comprised of friends who met while going to Pinole Valley High School. It seemed that they knew just when excitement would peak because just at the right time, a wild Kool John came out with guest performer Lil Yee, delighting the crowd. By the time Iamsu! came on with his surprise guest Nef the Pharoah, the standing crowd more resembled an amusement park ride than a concert.

The crowded venue was engulfed by convergent vibrations from massive subwoofers, slapping speakers, and a sea of fans moving to hits like Mobbin ,  I Love My Squad, and Only That Real, just to name a few. Thankfully, Su played a number of songs off of older mixtapes Kilt (2012), Suzy 6 Speed (2012) and  Million Dollar Afro (2013) along with showing off his newest album Kilt 3 (2016). I have been an Iamsu! fan for the past few years but to be perfectly honest I was disappointed by his newest album.

As someone who’s relatively familiar with his work, I can see how this concert would be disorienting for those unfamiliar with HBK’s music.  For this very reason, I think The Warfield makes for a stupendous venue for any type of show-goer seeing most types of perfrormances. While floor admission tickets provide a more intimate environment, the multi-balcony seating allows for attendees to kick back, relax, and perhaps enjoy a beverage from the full-service bar. All in all, the biggest show of the #Iamsummer Tour was an extremely good time, and The Warfield was an awesome place to see it. 

I fully endorse anyone to check out The Warfield, Iamsu! (and/or the rest of HBK Gang) if you are lucky enough to have a chance. Here are links to some of the gang’s Instagrams (davesteezy, k00lj0hn, showy4mayor, heartbreakskipper) (here is a link to upcoming Iamsu! shows throughout the Bay.) Enjoy!

Four things I learned during my first trip to Outside Lands

The scene above Golden Gate Park at OSL2016. (photo by Ray Chavez)

By Harrison Laver | @Harrison_Laver

Friday, August 5th was my first time at Outside Lands and my first major festival experience.  Being one of the most hyped events in California, Outside Lands was something I had long wanted to check out. After some proper pre-gaming in the Lower Haight neighborhood of SF, our group headed over to the event, and it was there that I learned four important things about this iconic Northern California festival in the foggy/sunny/foggy grounds of Golden Gate Park.    


1. Lines are everywhere, but can often be bypassed

My initial impression was this: there are a lot of people here.  To be more precise, one metric shit-ton of people (70,000 attendees on Friday).  At first glance, the line to enter the south side of the park seemed to be a massive group that had gathered to witness a speaker or something.  But it was indeed the line to enter OSL.  According to a police officer that we spoke with on the other side, the festival had received several threats and the FBI advised a thorough search of each backpack and bag that entered the grounds, which created a huge backup.  Once we finally got inside, there was one thing on our minds: beer.  And there’s a line for that.  But we needed 21+ wristbands as well, and there’s a line for that too.  This is the first thing I learned about OSL; there are lines everywhere.  However, if you plan accordingly and are willing to do a little walking, there often are ways to skip the lines.  

Gaps in artist set times often create a lot of people moving from one stage to another.  If you can time it right, you can arrive at an area of the festival that has minimal people, and therefore minimal lines.  I found that the timing was best around 15-20 mins after an artist had finished their set, or right smack dab in the middle of the set while most people are close to the stage (excluding the main stage, which more or less had big lines for the entirety of the festival).  Also, there seemed to be food and drink areas of the park that were a bit tucked away and didn’t have the crowds that some of the more popular areas had, which made them much more approachable.

2. Make a plan beforehand

One of the issues I faced was not knowing the lineup very well, so coordinating between stages and artists proved to be a challenge, and I ended up missing a few acts that I would have loved to see.  It was my first experience at a big festival so it was a little hard to wrap my head around the whole ordeal, and the fact that I was part of a large group made it a bit more difficult to organize.  So, I would suggest making a plan before you arrive at the festival in order to maximize the amount of artists you’d like to see.  Regardless, my group made it right up in front of the main stage to see Duran Duran and LCD Soundsystem, and both bands absolutely killed it.  I had no idea that Duran Duran had so many hits, and he was cranking them out in a distinctively classy and bold style.  And if you don’t already know, LCD Soundsystem live is pure euphoria.  

LCD Soundsystem returns to their old form in SF. (photo by Ray Chavez)

3. Golden Gate Park is a man made park

I had no idea.  Apparently the story is this (thanks Vince and Wikipedia): In the 1860’s, the public of San Francisco voiced a desire for a large public area, much like Central Park in New York which was in the process of being created at that time.  The area in which Golden Gate Park stands was a large plot of sand dunes known as the “Outside Lands.”  It almost became a racetrack under the lobbying of four millionaires, but thankfully the area was placed under the care of John McLaren, a world renowned horticulturist.   60,000 eucalyptus, pine, and cypress trees were planted to stabilize the dunes and create the park landscape.  In 1903 the Dutch style windmills were constructed to pump water throughout the park.  Golden Gate Park is effectively 20% larger than Central Park, which is further evidence that the West Coast is the best coast.  

4. It’s expensive, but worth the experience

It’s like a baseball game.  You purchase your tickets, but that’s only scraping the surface of the spending.  Once you’re there, you’re buying $11 Bud Lights and $8 nachos, and before you know it you’ve spent well beyond the ticket prices.  But all in all, you got drunk with friends, watched a great ball game, and had a blast.  

Outside lands is much of the same.  Except you may not spend more than your ticket price because those are pretty costly.  If you have the extra cash to spend, and are looking for an awesome weekend with an awesome festival experience, then OSL is definitely worth it.  I must have spent an upwards of $300 on food and drinks over the two days I was there, but I still walked away extremely satisfied.  Sitting on the warm grassy hillside of the Sutro Stage watching Foals deliver their dreamy indie rock, and seeing my friend DJ Grensta absolutely destroy the decks in the Heineken Dome on Sunday made it a weekend that I will never forget.  Don’t miss Outside Lands 2017!