People will be talking about this weekend’s 6th annual Outside Lands Festival for years. Held at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park – the harrowed site of the 1967 Human Be-In, decades of free concerts, and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival – Frisco icons Bob Weir and the Kronos Quartet aptly brought it all back home with guest slots that could simply not happen at any other festival, in any other city. What other (hardly strictly) rock festival has a string ensemble “sit in”? The same open-minded approach that has brought Kronos singular notoriety in classical music for over three decades, brought them to play with both of Friday night’s main attractions: The National and headliner Paul McCartney. For the former they embellished eight songs (“I Should Live in Salt,” “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” “Demons,” “Squalor Victoria,” “This Is The Last Time,” “England,” “Mr November” and “Terrible Love”). For the latter they played perhaps the best known string quartet arrangement the world over with the man who wrote it. That is, of course, a reference to their moving performance together of “Yesterday.” It was “Terrible Love” with The National however that was the most gripping and memorable, thanks to a little help from The National’s friend and hometown hero Bob Weir – on the anniversary of the death of his famous ex-bandmate, Jerry Garcia.
Paul McCartney immediately followed The National, playing 39 (!) selections from his legendary catalog, the bulk of them Beatles hits. Rockers like “Day Tripper” and “Back in the USSR,” ballads from “And I Love Her” through 2012’s “My Valentine,” sing-alongs (“Hey Jude,” All Together Now”), eight Wings classics, John’s “Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite,” the gentle “Blackbird,” a nod to the locals (“San Francisco Bay Blues”) – he played it all, ultimately closing his second encore (!!) with a chunk of the Abbey Road medley (!!!)!
There were fireworks during “Live and Let Die,” and the aforementioned strings for “Yesterday” – a feat The Beatles themselves never pulled off in concert, let alone at a festival. “Yesterday” was the start of the second encore, immediately followed by “Helter Skelter” – no doubt a very deliberate contrast – and then “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End.”
More big attraction came Saturday night (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix), most of all via one of Nine Inch Nails first reunion shows, and the fest closes tonight with Vampire Weekend and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Check out highlights below:
UPDATE August 12th
More videos from Outside Lands this past weekend have surfaced online. Below watch highlights from Surfer Blood and Band of Horses, plus entire sets by Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Hall and Oates. Outside Lands official 2013 archive on Ustream includes videos from Band of Horses, Twenty One Pilots, Surfer Blood, Anuhea, Yeasayer, Gary Clark Jr, The Growlers, The Heavy, Wild Belle, Social Studies, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Pretty Lights, The Soft White Sixties, The Easy Leaves, Milo Greene, Foals, The Growlers, Smith Westerns, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Re-live the festival, or pretend you were there…