Gig Review: Outside Lands, San Francisco

By Karan Patel (Simple Complex Continuity)

Outside Lands – The First Day

Reached into the city. The quiet California land mass as seen driving on the 5 North had been replaced by a spectacular vibrant San Francisco buzz.

Parking, as usual was a pain in the ass. I gave up and parked my car for 2 nights at 25 usd/a night. Caught a bus from the Civic Center and as soon as we halted, started to run through the walking trail, to make my way to the Polo Fields.


Just made it in time when Beck was playing “Devil’s Haircut”. It just about blew my mind. I used to relate to this song literally, back when i used to have long hair. I still do, but only figuratively. Witty punk rock fueled with Beck’s painful lyrics, just got me jumping up and down. They played a great set, with the bassist playing the cello on some of the songs. Interestingly enough, they break into an acoustic cover song by Neil Young, who would be playing in a couple of hours. A brilliant selection, considering the location, they played “After The Gold Rush”, and the crowd was out with their lighters and smoke.

Foo Fighters

Beck was done. My friends were at the show by then. A couple of beers and pizza slices later, Foo Fighters stormed onto the stage with the most maddest, kinetic energy ever. Taylor Hawking seemed like he was going the beat the crap out of the drums until they bled. Dave Grohl was killing the microphone. Pat Smear was tearing up the bass and Chris Shiflett was modest in his solos, yet very powerful. They had no lights, fireworks or any other public gimmicks other than of course, jumping and running around the stage and at times Grohl would run into an open strip where the audience was, which was, for obvious reasons, barricaded on both sides. They played enough songs for an hour and a half including all the crowd favorites such as “The Pretender”, “Learn To Fly”, “All my life”, “Walk”, “White Limo”, “Rope”, “My Hero”,”Best Of You”, “Everlong” and a few more.

I have been dying to see this band live since 2005 , when i first arrived in the States. A seven year wait and it was totally worth it. I was hoping they would have played at least a couple more songs , but the band had different plans as after the third or the fourth song, Dave Grohl says, “We have an hour more to go and we gotta play a lot more songs. But let’s be honest. The sooner we get done, we all get to see Neil F@#$^% Young”.

I still have to watch this band again somewhere, wherever. They are off the hook.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Neil Young and Crazy Horse took the stage soon and the stage exploded with four seventy plus men jamming away to glory on a song called “Break It Down”.

I have not heard anything by Crazy Horse. Just a bunch of songs by Young, but this was like watching a real jam. It seemed like they were in a  garage and just jamming. Incredible is the word! It was just pure brilliance, as each song ended in an eccentric feedback and a unique form of experimentation backgrounded by different kinds of sounds. They just did not stop playing with each song ending with bizarre and yet organized melodious sounds, which were eventually built back into a new song.It was very inspiring to say the least. I felt like getting out of there, grab a guitar and hook it up to a couple of effects pedals and make some noise.

They did play a few of the songs i have heard and it was definitely a treat. “Into the Black”, “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Cinnamon Girl”.

Outside Lands – The Second Day

The next day, my friend and me did not have tickets. This is my favorite part and i am so excited to write about this. TICKET SCALPING!! Yeah, that is how we got in.

The official tickets had long been sold out and all third party vendors were selling at a ridiculous marked up price, so that was not an option. So the idea was to go there and ask anyone with extra tickets. The official price was a 110 bucks with tax and we were willing to pay till 200, as Metallica was playing, we figured it would be worth it.

I am not sure if this is luck or whatever you want to call it but we reached there and within a minute we found a scalper, whose name shall not be mentioned. We got a great deal.

A 100 bucks a pop and we pay him once we pass through security/ticket check. Wait, what , we are paying less than the official tickets. Hell yes, lets do it. So the ticket he gave us was a xerox copy of a 3 day pass issued to someone, whose name shall not be mentioned either. All right – it was Anna Rodriguez. Thank You, Anna! We reach the ticket check point. The scalper waits till his friend, who works for the ticket check arrives. He walks in before us, tell her, the next two guys are cool and we pass through. She scans the ticket and the machine says “Invalid Ticket”. She smiles and says “You can go in now”. That was it. Thats how easy it was.

If you ever do not have tickets, trust me, just go there. 8/10 times, you get lucky and those are some pretty good odds. This is the third time i have been lucky, twice before with Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.

Alabama Shakes and The Kills

So we go inside, our joy we couldn’t contain. The crowd was definitely more vibrant than the previous day on account of the fact that it was a Saturday. We checked out a band called the Alabama Shakes and it was a nice folkish band and a couple of Newcastle’s later we headed to the field where Metallica would play in a bit.

We reached there when “The Kills” were killing the stage. Definitely got me hooked on as i have to get my hands on this band. Its a great punk rock duo and the female vocalist plays the guitar, drums and bass on different songs.


A couple of tacos, tater tots and best damn cheese grilled sandwich later Metallica exploded on the stage after playing a clip from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, where Tuco (The Ugly) is running around the cemetery. I obviously thought “Master of Puppets” would just start anytime, but the lights went out and “Hit The Lights” started rocketing through the atmosphere. Not much to my surprise, but “Master of Puppets” was next. As a kid, i have been to many a mosh pit. Every Thursday night at Razzberry Rhino, a pub in Mumbai where Indian Rock bands have made their debut. But this was a hell pit, as everyone literally threw their bodies around in a sheer f$%^& frenzy. A girl friend of mine was devasted as she took a small hit, so for her sake we went back a little bit but it has hilarious enough to see the pit after so many years. The last mosh pit i have been in was for a secret Soundgarden show two years ago. Metallica might be old but they totally totally still got it. I mean its incredible that Hetfield’s voice has not changed a bit since The Black Album. Beautiful guitar solos by Hammett, Robert Trujillo’s trademark style of playing bass with that frog like stand and Lars was just being Lars. I think its one of the only bands in the world that i feel more comfortable calling them by their first or last names as against full names. P.see: i obviously do not know them.

The highlight of the night: “One”. As all Metallica fans know, this is a song about a soldier who is hit by an artillery shell and loses his limbs, eyes, ears and mouth. His mind functions perfectly, however, leaving him trapped inside his own body. They recreated a war scene with fake bombs exploding and a lot of FAYYYYURRRR!! I honestly cant put this in words, but they started playing the most trippiest lights to go along with the song, it was f%^& unbelievable. The band went on to play most of my favorites including “Ride The Lightning”, “Creeping Death”, “Blackened”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “Fade To Black”, “Enter Sandman”, “Sanitarium”, “Seek and Destroy”, “Battery” and more. I mentioned earlier about Foo Fighters’ energy, but Metallica was way more charged up than any other band i have ever seen.

It was a blast of a two nighter and as i write all of this a few days later, i can still feel the sounds and sights of the two days spent in music, food, beer and a whole lot of people feeling the exact same way as me.

Website of the festival: Outside Lands

MORE GIG REVIEWS: Metallica in Bangalore | Megadeth’s Tour of Duty | Metal Bajaao Special Edition | Deathfest 2 at B69 | Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2012

1 Response to “Gig Review: Outside Lands, San Francisco”

  1. August 30, 2012 at 07:18

    “Frog-like stand”… hahaha!


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