San Francisco’s yearly Outside Lands festival has got a lot going for it – the whole thing goes down in amazing, historic Golden Gate Park, there’s plenty going on after the gates close for the night, and they always bring together a killer lineup. This year’s no exception; there’ll be a ton to see and do if you’re hitting up the festival this weekend, but the heartwrenching conflicts are few and far between. Here’s what we recommend if you’ll be there. We also recommend, as usual, drinking so much water.
12:50-1:40 Smith Westerns @ Land’s End
Kick off your festival with Chicago’s Smith Westerns. These guys always put on a great show, and with any luck, they’ll mix up their set between their three fantastic records, including the newest one, Soft Will.
2:10-3 Surfer Blood @ Land’s End
Domestic battery arrests aside, Surfer Blood do put on a damn good live show. If you can get past the backstory, check them out – maybe they’ll deliver some songs from their new record Pythons.
3:05-3:45 The Men @ Panhandle
When I saw the Men open for Ty Segall in the summer of 2012, they played a bunch of the material that would wind up on their latest record New Moon; the show was a half hour of intense, face-melting psych-punk onslaught. If that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is.
3:30-4:30 Band of Horses @ Land’s End
OR Jessie Ware @ Sutro
The choice is yours – are you feeling Jessie’s sultry, electro-tinged blues, or Band of Horses’ rock-inflected variety? Either’s a solid choice to wind down into your Friday afternoon.
4:45-5:35 Rhye @ Sutro
OR 5-6:10 The National @ Land’s End
This decision’s kind of contingent on your last one – if you’ve just seen Band of Horses, stick with like-minded dudes of the National, and make sure you’re up front so Matt Berninger can get up in your face when he inevitably goes for a crowd stroll. If you’ve just seen Jessie, stay at the Sutro stage for Rhye’s similarly slow-burning, bedroom-eyed jams.
6:05-7:05 D’Angelo @ Sutro
You basically can’t not see D’Angelo, right? UPDATE: Good news and Bad news. Bad news first: D'Angelo is sick. Good news: he's been replaced by Chic featuring Daft Punk's new favorite collaborator Nile Rodgers.
7-10 Paul McCartney @ Land’s End
OR Yeasayer @ Twin Peaks to Chromatics @ Panhandle
If you’re a Beatles’ fan, this choice practically makes itself. But if you’re one of the 0.0001% of the world that isn’t, or if you’ve seen Sir Paul already this year on his stadium tour rounds, maybe wander around and check out Yeasayer and Chromatics.
3:40-4:30 Young the Giant @ Land’s End
OR Youth Lagoon @ Twin Peaks
The choice to start off your Saturday depends on whether you like your pop music introverted, bedroom-crafted, and outsider-art-esque (pick Youth Lagoon), or crank-it-up, roll-down-the-windows, and yell-every-word (pick Young the Giant).
4:30-5:10 Bombino @ Panhandle
The Nigerien (as in, from Niger) musician Bombino is the latest member of a long line of African guitarists whose deft playing and accessible songwriting have helped him cross over to popularity outside of his home country. Check out his set and you might realize how much African guitar music has influenced American rock and roll.
5:15-6:05 Baauer @ Twin Peaks
Check out Baauer’s set just so you can tell your friends at home that you saw “Harlem Shake” live. Also, we bet this’ll be pretty insane.
6:30-7:40 Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Land’s End
OR Grizzly Bear @ Twin Peaks
An impossible decision between two of New York’s finest indie rock mainstays – it might be easier to choose in the moment whether you feel more like dancing along with Karen O (YYYs) or vibing hard to some emotional, haunted weird-rock songs and a fantastic light show (Grizzly Bear).
8:25-9:55 Nine Inch Nails @ Land’s End
As much as we love Phoenix, we’re going to have to choose to eschew their set at the Twin Peaks stage in favor of checking out Nine Inch Nails – new Hesitation Marks songs, a Talking Heads-inspired live show; what more could you want?
10-late King Tuff, the Men, Twin Peaks @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
If you’ve still got any energy, head off the festival grounds to Brick & Mortar Music Hall for one of the festival’s aftershows, starring King Tuff, the Men, and the Chicago band Twin Peaks.
2:30-3:20 Kurt Vile @ Sutro
OR Deap Vally @ Panhandle
OR Foals @ Land’s End
Voila, your weekend’s only impossible three-way choice – Kurt Vile, Deap Vally, or Foals? The decision’s yours – bliss out to some summer-appropriate lo-fi jams from Kurt and company, headbang with the ladies of Deap Vally, or sing along with Foals, who might have the festival jam of the summer with “Inhaler.”
4:20-5:20 Hall and Oates @ Land’s End
OR King Tuff @ Panhandle
This choice depends on whether you feel like reliving the music your parents likely raised you to or if you feel like fist-pumping with a beer in hand. Gauge your mental (and physical) state, and decide accordingly.
5:10-6 A-Trak @ Twin Peaks
We know that by Sunday dancing might be the last thing on your mind, but you basically can’t not see A-Trak – cross your fingers he’ll drop some Duck Sauce material?
5:50-7 Vampire Weekend @ Land’s End
We love the New York band MSMR, who are playing concurrently with Vampire Weekend over at the Panhandle stage, but we have to recommend you check out Columbia’s finest – they’ve been killing it at their 2013 summer festival appearances so far, and you get the added bonus of watching them play tracks from Modern Vampires of the City, still among our favorite records of the year, for among the first time.
6:30-7:40 Willie Nelson and Family @ Sutro
Wind down your festival with some sets you just can’t not check out, starting with Willie Nelson over at the Sutro stage. Just a heads up that if heavy smoke gives you asthma, you might want to stand near the back.
7:45-9:35 Red Hot Chili Peppers @ Land’s End
Make middle school you proud and cap off your Outside Lands weekend with a headlining set from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Cross your fingers for some back-catalog material.
That’s it for this year – let us know what you decide on if you’ll be in Golden Gate Park this weekend. And stay tuned for more festival recommendations throughout August! And please, please, please drink so much water!