Read on after our music picks for Anna's food recommendations.
By Ian S. Port
There are nearly 90 acts on the Outside Lands lineup this year, with a spectrum of musical offerings that includes R&B, funk, rock, hip-hop, and dance music. The options are simply bewildering, which is why we've laid out some recommendations here.
The Men: Burly, chaotic, primitive, and very loud rock is the specialty of this Brooklyn outfit. The Men are somewhat notorious for their bruising live shows, but the songs are good enough to make them worth checking out. 3:05 p.m. on the Panhandle stage.
Jessie Ware: You may know Jessie Ware’s smoky, melancholic voice from her work with SBTRKT. Even if you don’t, check her out — the British singer makes sultry, hyper-modern electronic pop, with beats as subtly captivating as her voice. 3:25 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Chic: So R&B enigma D'Angelo canceled due to illness, but that's not entirely a bad thing. We will now be treated to a live performance from Nile Rodgers' seminal disco vehicle Chic, only months after the man helped Daft Punk rule the world with his impeccably funky guitar work on "Get Lucky." In other words, maybe we just did. 6:05 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Paul McCartney: As big a no-brainer as they come, Macca will easily put on one of the best sets of the festival. You’ll have to sit through some solo material, but the payoff will be hearing an original Beatle roll out tunes like “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Let it Be.” 7:10 p.m. on the Lands End stage.
Chromatics: Chromatics’ blend of spare beats, icy synths, and breathy vocals isn’t rare these days, but it is uncommon for a group to meld those elements as tastefully — and beautifully — as this Portland outfit. Given the success of the dance-pop group, it’s strange to recall that it once specialized in noisy, punk-indebted rock. 7:50 p.m. on the Panhandle stage.
Bhi Bhiman: Local songwriter Bhi Bhiman is building a national reputation on the strength of his penetrating, heartfelt folk. Bhiman tackles serious topics with a human – and often humorous -- touch, spinning yarns from unusual perspectives, like that of a North Korean prisoner ("Kimchee Line") or a rail-riding hobo ("Guttersnipe"). 12 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Bombino: Among the many talented purveyors of African desert blues — a hypnotic strain of guitar music from the Sahara — Bombino is a standout. His latest album, Nomad, was produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and melds hip-swaying rhythms with a little rock ’n’ roll muscle. 4:30 p.m. on the Panhandle stage.
Thao Nguyen: San Francisco folk-rocker Thao Nguyen is a local luminary. Her album We the Common won acclaim from just about everywhere for its taut production and brave, socially aware songwriting. Thankfully Thao is as tuneful as she is smart. 4:40 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Still among the finest purveyors of new-millennium New York rock, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have only gotten darker and weirder as the years have gone on. New album Mosquito doesn’t quite have the ruthless kick of earlier work, but Karen O’s notorious onstage antics will help remedy that. 6:30 p.m. on the Lands End stage.
Nine Inch Nails: The vehicle Trent Reznor used to bring industrial music to the ’90s rock mainstream is back, and in fine form. Come to hear alt-era classics like “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole,” but stay for “Came Back Haunted” and other previews of the new album, Hesitation Marks, which is out Sept. 3. 8:25 p.m. on the Lands End stage.
Kurt Vile: No, he isn’t stoned — Phillytown’s freakiest long-hair just loves meandering guitars, daydreamy reverb, and hints of ’70s album rock. Vile’s latest album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is his finest yet, making this an excellent time to see him live. 2:30 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Hall & Oates: We aren’t being ironic, and you won’t be either when the synth lines that open “Private Eyes” tumble out into Golden Gate Park. Hall & Oates admittedly deal in a brand of hypermelodic ’80s pop that now sounds a little cheesy. But they’re so good that it can’t help but be enjoyed sincerely. 4:20 p.m. on the Lands End stage.
King Tuff: Vermont's Kyle Thomas goes by the stage name King Tuff, and deservedly so: Few artists out there make such satisfying, gleeful rock 'n' roll – and play it with such intoxicating fervor – as he does. Both his albums, including the recently reissued Was Dead, are psych-garage masterpieces, radiating pop joy as they careen from one memorable riff and guitar solo to the next. 4:25 p.m. on the Panhandle stage.
A-Trak: Alain Macklovitch was a DJ prodigy long before he became Kanye West’s touring selecter and a dance-music celeb in his own right. A co-founder of L.A.’s iconic Fool’s Gold Records, the man known as A-Trak is as accomplished as DJs come. 5:10 p.m. on the Twin Peaks stage.
Vampire Weekend: If it was once possible to write off the young kings of New York prep-rock as ultra-coiffed hype beneficiaries, that time is over. Vampire Weekend’s latest album, Modern Vampires of the City, is a masterpiece, full of yearning harmonies, devastating lyrics, and sonic cues taken from all over the pop-rock map. 5 p.m. on the Lands End stage.
Willie Nelson: Even at age 80, Willie’s still got all the qualities that make him a legend: A huge catalog of classic songs, a generous demeanor, and a whip-tight band. Spark a joint and do your country-hippie godfather proud. 6:30 p.m. on the Sutro stage.
Stale nachos, rubbery corn dogs, bland pad Thai, bricks of mediocre French fries: Historically, the food at music festivals has left something to be desired. But Outside Lands also happens to be one of the best food festivals in the city, with more than 70 local restaurants, food trucks, and small producers spread throughout the festival grounds serving up almost every cuisine imaginable. Korean bulgogi tacos? Hawaiian poke? Fried plantain burritos? Kansas City spare ribs? It's honestly hard to go wrong with your food choices at the festival, but here are ten spots we plan to hit up this weekend.
The Whole Beast: John Fink's rich, savory lamb poutine, made with sheep's-milk cheese and lamb gravy, was one of the highlights of last year's festival. And this year he's expanding his offerings at "Outside Lambs" on McClaren Pass with lamb curry and shawarma with berbere spices.
Il Cane Russo: The Ferry Building favorite is new this year and brilliantly bringing in breakfast with griddled French toast, fried egg sandwiches, and hash browns. We know where we'll be in the early afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, gathering strength as we recover from the day before.
Azalina's: As one of the festival's more flavorful vegan offerings, these Malaysian nachos have peanut curry tofu, strawberry puree instead of salsa, and coconut jam in the place of melted cheese. If you can't live without meat, there's usually a chicken version as well.
4505 Meats: This isn't a massive gut bomb, but a small, sophisticated, delicious burger that will fill your stomach but isn't so big you won't be hungry later. Get a side of the addictive garlic-chimichurri fries.
Rich Table: If you haven't made it to the still-so-hot Hayes Valley restaurant to try its famous sardine chips (potato chips speared with whole fried sardines), you can sample them at the festival, along with the restaurant's porcini-dusted doughnut holes.
Farmerbrown's Little Skillet: Fried chicken and waffles might have been the trend du jour of 2012, but nothing fortifies you on a cold night in Golden Gate Park like a big plate of comforting soul food.
Fabulous Frickle Brothers: If there's one thing you should eat when you're inebriated, it's these large, luscious coins of beer-battered, deep-fried dill pickles, served with house-made ranch and other sauces.
Charles Chocolates: Before the fog rolls in, treat yourself to a frozen hot chocolate, which puts Wendy's Frosties to shame. We're sure that a splash of bourbon or even tequila would liven it up even more (but you didn't hear it from us).
Nopalito: Corn on the cob is a must-have at any music festival, and we're willing to bet that this upscale Mexican spot's version with queso, chili, and lime is a superlative example. Plus, they're selling popsicles.
Bacon Bacon: Because the opportunity to tweet that you're eating chocolate-covered bacon is too tempting to pass up.