Sunday's agreeable weather brought out the masses for the final day of this year's Outside Lands Festival. Like Saturday's festivities, the sun was hot, the was music loud and the crowds went deep even with the roughly 60,000 in attendance splitting up between the hard electronic beats and the folky/rocky sets that dominated the day.
After showering off Saturday's residual dust and heading back out to the park, we spotted Grouplove's thumping kick drum filling out the Panhandle Stage with curious passersby. Crowds were grooving their way to !!!'s dance-friendly set at the Twin Peaks stage, while others headed to catch the end of Mavis Staples' set were treated to a surprise appearance. Win Butler, frontman for the Sunday headliners Arcade Fire, joined the soul legend onstage for a lively rendition of "The Weight". (Hat tip to @MusicSF for the video)
Josh Ritter brought a respectable crowd of diehards to the Polo Fields. The singer-songwriter was definitely a mellow option compared to the dance party at !!!, but Talking Heads covers ("Once in a Lifetime") and jaunty rockers kept the crowd, mostly blanket loungers enjoying the mid afternoon sun, from completely dozing off. With the crowd thinning out, a flock of seagulls swooped in to clean up the crumbs of two and a half days of leftover concessions.
DJs Diplo and Switch packed the Twin Peaks stage even deeper than Girl Talk the night before for their Major Lazer set. The light show might have been lost in the late afternoon sunshine, but the reggae tinged beat was thumping hard. Hands, pool noodles and flags of various Caribbean nations all raised in the air as club bangers were suddenly open field bangers. Dancehall dub steppers rolled up their jeans.
Wye Oak's bright guitar work and moody vocals carried the mellow crowd seated on blankets and a set of hay bale bleachers at the Panhandle stage in to the twilight hours. Meanwhile, over at the Sutro stage, the crowd in Lindley Meadow held on to the sun a little longer while Little Dragon's Swedish electronica kept dresses swinging and feet moving.
The Decemberists greeted another full crowd in the Polo Fields and thanked everyone for coming out from our "various wards or parishes." Cute! But everyone knows we live and die by our districts out here. Anyhow, frontman Colin Meloy dedicated "The Calamity Song" to the Michelle Bachmann campaign (who also just won the Iowa straw poll, by the way).
Speaking of calamities, the double booking of the Decemberists and Beirut seemed to be the most stressful decision of the weekend here and made for a crowded passage between the Polo Fields and Lindley Meadow, but Beirut was well worth packing in around the Sutro Stage. Entering to a loud, welcoming reception Zach Condon graciously returned the favor (with his trumpet).
Somewhere far off at the Twin Peaks stage, another laser light show shot up during Deadmau5's cartoonishly heavy dance set. Deadmau5 himself might be effectively anonymous behind that LED-lit mouse head, but the sizable crowd is an advantage when you're trying to move people to dance the rest of their weekend away in a throbbing meadow.
Meanwhile the sentimentalists headed back to the Lands End stage, where Arcade Fire waltzed onstage to "The Surburbs" before launching in to "No Cars Go". The band leaned heavily on their driving, anthemic tracks to rally the crowd that looked like it had a long way to go before getting home to the suburbs. Win & Co. sent everyone out on a high note by powering through "Wake Up", letting that song's swinging outro dance everyone right in to "Sprawl II: (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" and back out in to the avenues.
As a couple of overall impressions: Only during peak moments did the lines for the toilets and concessions reach those painful, torturous lengths. Sure - we spotted plenty impatient people ducking behind bushes to take a leak, but for the most part the facilities seemed adequate. On the other hand, we really felt the crowds at the individual stages where getting closer than 50 yards or so to any act that wasn't playing the Panhandle stage required a lot of dedicated crowd maneuvering.
With 60,000 in attendance on both Saturday and Sunday the festival could certainly have supported another stage full of acts, but it seems like organizers opted for bigger crowds at each stage instead of more scheduling conflicts. The lineup might have seemed a year (or more) late for a lot of folks on the musical bleeding edge, but there's no denying that most of the acts were big draws in their own right.