Outside Lands Music Festival

Festivals

What happened with ATCQ? & Hip-Hop at #OL10

So, first things first—what happened to A Tribe Called Quest? On opening day, festival organizers announced shocking news: the band wouldn’t make their set due to “unforeseen travel issues.” Luckily, for everyone with a 3-day pass, this meant we’d see them on Saturday. 

Friday was cool though. Jarobi White did his Eats, Rhymes, and Life set which made some of us question the validity of this “travel issues” statement. Not to mention an Instagram post from Ali Shaheed Muhammad on Saturday clearly on site for the festival.

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Courtesy of Instagram

Then, low and behold, an announcement on Twitter Saturday, just minutes before their once-already rescheduled performance, read “We are deeply disappointed that we’ve just been informed A Tribe Called Quest will not make their scheduled performance at Outside Lands.” Riding on the notion that this is Tribe’s last tour ever, the crowd was in dismay. Thousands of questions were pouring in online and rumbles among fans leaving the stage chattered shamelessly about refunds, Outside Lands being a “scam,” and how alcohol was needed to sooth sorrows. 

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Courtesy of Twitter

Industry talk surfaced; members of ATCQ were, if fact, at Outside Lands. Everyone except for Q-Tip. Q-Tip’s flight landed eventually, but when Outside Lands officials announced ATCQ’s performance would be cancelled, Tribe had no idea. 

Had officials been a little more patient, and had Q-Tip been rushed through The City to get to Golden Gate Park, maybe it would have happened… we thought.

However, on Tuesday night following the festival, an open letter was published from A Tribe Called Quest offering an explanation, an apology, and a promise to “correct this”. They said: 

“Our performance at the festival has been months in the making and in those months, we have been fraught with an emotional and eager excitement to touch the stage in the place where Phife Dawg made his home.”

Their humbling performance at Red Rock Amphitheater in Colorado just a day before seemed to have triggered an emotional landslide:

“You would think that with every performance we heal a little more and the sadness is easier to handle. Sometimes that is the case and sometimes the grief and loss is compounded. Although [Red Rock] was filled with love and we felt it all, we also felt the huge void of Phife’s absence. We walked off that stage deep in grief.”

So “travel complications,” sudden overwhelming grief, or both? I guess we can’t be too sure, but one thing that I can be sure of… nobody is going to start disliking a lifetime of music because of one festival. Besides, haven’t you ever called in sick to work before?

You can read the complete letter from ATCQ released by LA Times here.

The Good.

Despite the funk, Gorillaz killed it. Seriously, they deserve an award for Most Features During A Live Set. Peven Everett showed up and performed my favorite track off Humanz, “Strobelite.” De La Soul was there for “Momentz,” Pusha T came through for “Let Me Out“… I’m not even done… Kali Uchis did “She’s My Collar,” and Little Simz was on “I Got The Power.” It was lit, to say the least.

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Photo Courtesy of Andrew Elsayid Productions

Almost every feature on Humanz came through, not to mention, Del The Funky Homosapien touched the stage to perform the classic, and inevitable, “Clint Eastwood”. All in all, the only thing that could have made this performance any better would have been Danny Brown and Vince Staples.

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Photo by Deanna Boutté

Kamaiyah kicked off her set with a new song, which is currently featured on KSJS Urban Top 40 called, “Build You Up.” If I had to describe Kamaiyah’s sound, I would say she has a Brandy vibe, with a Missy Elliot style, and a Too Short attitude. People felt her energy and it only took two songs for people who once looked lost to be on their feet dancing.

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Photo by Deanna Boutté

Kamaiyah played my all-time favorite, “Out The Bottle” right before she proudly rapped YG’s part to “Why You Always Hatin?” This effortlessly turned into, “Fuck It Up.” And after a few tracks in between, she concluded with her hit single off her 2016 album, A Good Night In The Ghetto, “How Does It Feel”.

As the fog rolled in, so did ScHoolboy Q. While I would have liked to see him perform a few more tracks off his most recent album, fans were ecstatic to hear him do stuff off Oxymoron like “Man Of The Year,” “Studio,” and “Hell of a Night.” He even went as far back as “Hands On The Wheel.” I was hoping for a surprise guest appearance from E40 for “Dope Dealer,” but the only track off Blank Face LP, ScHoolboy Q performed was “THat Part.” He finished his set by panting into the mic at the gushing audience, “I’ve never even heard of this festival, to be honest…” As the crowed screamed louder, so did he, “I thought it was gonna be weak, but it’s not. Thank you, San Francisco!”

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Photo by Deanna Boutté

The Bad.

With A Tribe Called Quest’s reschedule and cancellation, other performances were rearranged to compensate. It is already impossible to see every performance across four main stages and several sub-stages, but constant changes to set times and locations made it incredibly worse.

Many fans of the house and techno producer Claude VonStroke missed his performance entirely. His set was moved up, and to a different stage. People said they didn’t get a timely notification and that it was hardly publicized (with adequate notice) on the jumbo-tron at corresponding locations. Even people with the Outside Lands app said they were unaware.

Speaking of, the Outside Lands app was helpful. Yay for technology! The Tech Writer in me has a few suggestions for improvement, but overall, if it wasn’t for the app, communication between officials and attendees would have been an even bigger problem. Plus, the app kept us informed about free food, happy hours, and whatever other fun things were going on around the grounds. With beer costing $11 and a small plate of food running between $12 and $20, samples, free snacks, and drink specials went a long way.

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Photo by Deanna Boutté

The Not-So-Ugly.

In an intimate press conference with Outside Lands co-founders, Allen Scott of Another Planet Entertainment, and Rick Farman of Superfly, I realized something: The Bay Area is thriving. Whether it be in art, food, culture, beer, wine, or music–especially music–we are recognized worldwide in multiple industries and on multiple platforms. And there I was, sitting in a media tent, face to face with some of The Bay Area’s industry pioneers. Pretty remarkable, huh?

When Rick and Allen were asked how they came up with the idea for Outside Lands, they said, “[We thought] San Francisco should have a great big festival. [We have] an amazing culture and amazing music history…” Sure enough, ten years later, Outside Lands is on its tenth attempt to top festival charts. And with some of the world’s best wineries, craft brews, artists, and musicians coming together in a place as beautiful as Golden Gate Park, they might be headed that number one spot.

When asked about whether Outside Lands was worried about competition from other festivals emerging in the area, Allen and Rick casually replied, “Nah.” With such an original vibe, and an appeal to so many different people–rock and rollers, EDM lovers, rave kids, indie supporters, Hip-Hop heads, foodies, craft beer enthusiasts, winos, families, and party animals–there is literally something for everyone.

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but the San Francisco Bay Area is certainly always woke.

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Photo by Deanna Boutté

BottleRock 2017

Festivals

By Deanna Boutté

Memorial Day Weekend was host to several festivals. Within three days, I saw tweets, snaps, and posts from Lightning in a Bottle, California Roots, and the Ship Show—I consider it a “festival” because it was longer than one day—but perhaps the most underrated festival that took place last weekend was BottleRock. In the always beautiful Napa Valley, over 120,000 people, over the course of three days came together for the biggest music, food, art, wine, and beer festival I have ever experienced.

Day 1: Off To A Late Start

The epic event began on Friday at noon. Many visitors probably still had work that day because the volumes of attendees multiplied as day turned night. There were four music stages, a culinary stage, a day spa (yeah—literally, a day spa), countless food trucks and restaurants, a family area with games for kids, beer and wine everywhere, vendors galore, and thousands of out-of-towners ready to party. Maroon 5 headlined Friday night on the JaM Cellars stage.

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Maroon 5

For me, this was one of those instances where you don’t really realize how many songs you know from one artist until your singing majority of the lyrics with the rest of the people, and you’re just like, “I must have heard this on the radio about 100 times,” then the next song comes on and you’re like, “this one too!” It was quite incredible, surprisingly, to sing and dance with so many people while the warm sun was setting behind us. I am a Hip-Hop head, but I didn’t feel out-of-place for one second. Maybe it was because I had a few brews, or maybe because it was a very well-orchestrated performance, or both.

It was expected, however, that I immediately rush from one stage to the next at the first sound of something other than mainstream pop/rock though. Warren G was playing close by on the Lagunitas stage. And like I said, I am a Hip-Hop head, so it was only natural I ended up here. In between songs, the DJ played mixed cuts from Mac Dre and Too Short, but it was for a seemingly small crowd compared to the those packed around the second-to-biggest, Samsung stage, for Modest Mouse.

First Day Wins

Drink: Lagunitas Day Time Ale, Petaluma, CA.

Food: Coca-Cola Braised Pork Baked Bao from The Chairman Truck, South San Francisco, CA.

Random Fact: On the William Sonoma Culinary stage, chef-musician mashups were taking place throughout the day. Martha Stewart teamed up with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, while Ayesha Curry and E-40 were cooking up a storm.

Day 2: Making Up For Day 1’s Lost Time

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Pell

Saturday was the best day because we got there early and I got some great photos of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I saw an upcoming Hip-Hop artist named Pell who I’ve been eager to see. And I was a part of the country’s largest silent disco. Pell put on an energetic 2 PM performance at the Miner Family Winery stage. The New Orleans artist, who has songs with the Bay’s own G-Eazy and Caleborate, said it was his first time visiting Napa, but the crowd cheered after every song like they had been fans for years.

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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

After seeing Jump Around performed by House of Pain at the Samsung Stage, and catching Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform the harmonic tune, You Don’t Know How It Feels, I had to check out the silent disco. Big Boi from Outkast mixed alongside Chicago’s, The White Panda, for dance party battle. If you’ve never been to a silent disco—it’s cool—everyone gets a pair of headphones and essentially jams out to whatever is playing on their channel. This setup had two channels.

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Big Boi at the Silent Disco

As The White Panda and Big Boi went in, they both were concurrently maintaining the energy with consistent bass lines and beat drops. While it was not entirely silent—a few people couldn’t help but sing along, or shout out “whooo” in between dance moves—it was certainly a disco. Everyone’s headphones lit up, in assorted colors, making it both an enticing visual and audial experience.

Saturday Wins

Drink: Blue Moon Blood Orange Pale Ale, Golden, CO.

Food: Cherry Apple Chia Kind Snack Bar, free, and a Frozen Chocolate Dipped Banana from Mariposa Ice Creamery, Napa, CA.

Random Tip: The VIP Village was home to exclusive bathrooms, bars, food vendors, phone charging stations, and viewing areas; but the wristband hierarchy is costly as you move up in the ranks, so unless you know someone or are trying to impress someone, my advice is to go with GA and get yourself a t-shirt (it lasts longer anyway!)

Day 3: Foo Fighters Finale Fucked

Sunday was off to a relaxing start—I went to the Sutter Health Wellness Spa to check things out. Having never seen a spa at a festival before, I was curious. Not sure what to expect and much to my surprise, you could get anything from massages, to skin creams, shots of B12, to IV treatments with essential vitamins and minerals to promote hydration. I didn’t do any of it, although, it sounded incredibly refreshing. It was surely something different and a lovely addition to the traditional festival setting.

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Con Brio

As far as music, Sunday had me pleasantly surprised. I discovered a band from San Francisco: Con Brio. Not sure if they are considered funk, soul, or both, but I was immediately drawn in by their new-age, Bay Area style and the eclectic energy. Knowing they are local, I am even more of a fan. Later, at the JaM Cellars stage, the Foo Fighters’ 2002 hit, All My Life, got people on their feet and kicked off some damn good vibes. My Hip-Hop subconscious didn’t want me to miss The Roots though, so I left after the first couple songs to ensure a good spot on the lawn at the Samsung stage. Which—I am glad I did—because I heard production got shut down during the final few minutes of the Foo Fighters’ set.

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Foo Fighters

Unfortunately, these things happen, and thankfully, The Roots put on a mighty grand finale. They performed the legendary track, The Next Movement, along with the Grammy Award Winning song, You Got Me. The live band performed long original solos and jazzy instrumental covers to singles like that of The Weekend and Childish Gambino. It was indeed, one of the best performances I’ve seen all year—and trust me, I’ve seen quite a few.

Overall, BottleRock was one of the most elegantly organized festivals I have been to. The amount of cross-culture, cross-genre, and musical diversity encouraged by the people behind BottleRock Napa Valley will be what brings music lovers like me back again next year!

Last Day Wins

Drink: water from the CamelBak hydration stations, free.

Food: Superfood Breakfast Bowl from Southside, Napa, CA.

If you think you missed out on one of the best festivals of the year—you did—but BottleRock 2018 has already been confirmed for May 25-27 of next year. Check out BottleRockNapaValley.com for event updates!