Yesterday, after a foggy Friday and downright chilly Saturday in Golden Gate Park, Sunday lived up to its name, rewarding crowds at Outside Lands with clear skies and warm weather. And hey, if you like jokes like that, you may have loved Lionel Richie's set: "Great to be in Detroit!” the singer announced after a swig of wine to a noticeably inattentive crowd that thinned significantly before his last song. That was "All Night Long," which he generously finished by 9:35 p.m.
The real zingers were at the Barbary, the comedy tent co-curated by SF Sketchfest and headlined yesterday by SNL-alum and Portlandia star Fred Armisen. The Muppets also brought a dose of comedy to the festival, with the felt puppet creatures performing as their show's house band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. If you missed their covers of Edward Sharpe, The Band, and their finale, “With a Little Help From My Friends” for which they were joined by the Oakland Tabernacle Choir, you can watch it all on video here.
And if you thought Muppet drummer Animal's instrument-banging was enthusiastic, you probably missed Jack Garratt, a 24-year-old British multi-instrumentalist with seemingly infinite energy or access to stimulants. Garratt may have released his debut studio album just this year, but he drew serious crowds to the Sutro Stage, which he occupied alone, surrounded only by drums and electronic music doodads.
Equally energetic but far more focused was Kamasi Washington, the tenor saxophonist savant. Washington's set was the day's first, and its most mind-expanding. Other acts that had the crowd moving included Major Lazer, the electronic and reggae-influenced group known for concert antics. Predictably over-the-top — founding member Diplo briefly crowdsurfed, as he does, in his inflatable hamster ball — Major Lazer performances are at least partly acts of hypnosis. The trio — to say nothing of their incredible dancers — coaxed and flattered the crowd — the best they'd ever seen, from the best place in the world, with the best basketball team ever — into running, jumping, and taking off clothing. Of course, it wasn't THAT warm, so the command went mostly unheeded — though a cardboard cut-out of Hillary Clinton, held aloft as a totem, did gain a Major Lazer t-shirt in the process.
In fact, even those who chose to mellow out with Ryan Adams got a taste of Major Lazer. “Somebody’s got their laptop turned up so loud right now," the singer-songwriter quipped of their set, which was apparently audible from his distant stage according to the Chronicle.
The audience at Third Eye Blind's mid-afternoon performance, reveling in peak sunlight, also seemed to enjoy themselves, though none did as much as lead singer and songwriter Stephan Jenkins, who eagerly emphasized that he lives in San Francisco and looks fantastic, for 51, in just a tank top. Classics like "Never Let You Go" and "Jumper" were sing-along smash-hits, but the band's new music, including a Black Lives Matter anthem — "Cop V. Phone Girl" — appeared perplexing to most. A tribute to David Bowie with local musicians onstage in Ziggy Stardust wigs was better received, and "Semi-Charmed Life" obviously killed as a closer.
Another heartwarming hometown set came from Oakland's Kehlani: The onetime America's Got Talent finalist has struggled this year, revealing a suicide attempt on Instagram. She took the stage with swagger and dynamism. Farther afield, an attractive, of-the-moment male-female duo from London called Oh Wonder told an unexpected Bay Area success story. The group played their first show at Rickshaw Stop to a crowd of 200... this past January. Months later, they're on the main stage at the area's biggest festival.
Predictably, Chance The Rapper provided a festival highlight. At times, though, his lyrics were muddied by the thousands of fans with his every word memorized, shouting each one back at him. His set was also regrettably short, starting late and ending early.
In the end, the youth contingent mostly skipped a rote and predictable set from Lionel Richie, making their way instead to Lana Del Ray during the same time block. The Southern California crooner strutted her hour on the Twin Peaks stage, which was hard to approach through the crowd. No matter: The sky dark, the park's eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees lit up blue and purple, Del Rey's distant, mournful vocals provided a fitting exit soundtrack for thousands of tired but satisfied fans.