San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival starts tomorrow, which means you only have one day to pick out your personal lineup! Kanye, West The Killers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers might be your go-to choices, but lesser-known artists deserve attention as well.
From Gold Panda to The Brothers Comatose to Phosphorescent, the Daily Californian has got you covered on whom to keep your eye on at the three-day festival, running this Friday through Sunday. See you at Golden Gate Park, golden bears!
James Keough — the man behind indie sensation Vance Joy — gave up a career in law to sing to the masses. “I was always playing guitar and trying to write songs all through school and university,” he told hip-hop and indie-rock blog Pigeons and Planes. The Melbourne-based artist’s single “Riptide” soared on charts in Australia and was certified triple platinum by the Australian Record Industry Association. His 2013 album, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, can be described as country-tinged folk with quirky lyrics (“I swear she’s destined for the screen / Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you’ve ever seen”). His dance-y pop influences and infectious ukulele strumming promise a rollicking good time at Golden Gate Park.
For fans of: Kodaline, Bastille
— Addy Bhasin
The London Evening Standard hailed Matthew Houcke “the most significant American in his field since Kurt Cobain.” While Houcke — better known as Phosphorescent — was recently evicted from his house in Brooklyn’s Navy Yards, the Alabama native has found some sort of comfortable home on the road. After his gig at Outside Lands, he will continue on to the Edmonton Folk Festival in Canada, Hopscotch Music Festival in North Carolina and Thrival Festival in Pittsburgh. His most recent record, Muchacho, aches for beauty and depth, exploring glory and redemption through harmonics, pedal steel guitar and bongos. Phosphorescent secured a 2:30 p.m. slot Friday, which hopefully promises afternoon sunlight (Karl the Fog, let us win this one!) — a beautiful complement to the warm and inspiring hit “Song for Zula.”
For fans of: Father John Misty, The War on Drugs
— Addy Bhasin
Derwin Schlecker — known onstage as Gold Panda — never intended to release his music, but U.K. label Witchita discovered him on MySpace and decided to give the electronic experimenter a go. Gold Panda has gone from remixing Block Party and Little Boots’ tracks on his uncle’s sampler to now spinning for bigger crowds. His music involves unique samples, dusty nostalgia and references to numerous travel destinations. Japan is a major one on last year’s album Half of Where You Live, which was inspired by globetrotting. “I studied Japanese in London,” Schlecker told Stereogum in an interview with the Internet publication last year. “I spent all my money on beer and sushi.” That’s what’s great about Gold Panda. He may be up on a stage turning knobs, but he’s relatable too.
For fans of: Shlohmo, Caribou
— Addy Bhasin
Raspy-voiced Paolo Nutini danced his way into our hearts in 2007 with his infectiously catchy single, “New Shoes.” The Scottish singer/songwriter combines folk, vintage soul, blues and rock, making eclectic music that sounds as if it were designed to be played at festivals. His debut album, These Streets, debuted at No. 3 on the U.K. charts, and the Independent UK said his latest album, Caustic Love, “may be the best UK R&B album since the 1970s.” If that isn’t enough to inspire you to check out his 1:50 set at the Lands End stage Sunday, check out the “Harvey”-inspired video for “Coming Up Easy” or turn on the retro “Scream (Funk My Life Up).”
For fans of: Paloma Faith, Sam Smith
— Grace Lovio
The Brothers Comatose
The San Francisco-based five-piece string band, the Brothers Comatose, may be a bit of an outlier at this year’s festival, but that’s all the more reason to check out its Sunday set. “We’re probably the only hoe-down dance party you’ll find at all of Outside Lands,” guitarist and lead vocalist Ben Morrison told The Daily Californian in a phone interview. “Come by, hang out and stomp your foot with us.”
The Brothers Comatose — who sound like a blend of Americana, folk and bluegrass — played at last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and admit that “to be on the same bill as the Flaming Lips or Kanye West is such a strange thing for us.” Be sure to check out the band when it takes the Panhandle stage.
Who they’re excited to see: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, The Flaming Lips
Garage rocker Mikal Cronin makes rough, punk-inspired music with heart. His latest album, MCII, is more of a somber affair, blending noisy guitar riffs with sincere, revealing piano pieces, exemplified by the song “Weight.” While he is well known for his collaborations with other garage revival groups such as Ty Segall, he will be performing solo at the festival’s Panhandle stage Friday. What sets him apart from other Bay Area neogarage punk acts? A particular anxiety about the future — as he says on “Weight,” “the time is right, I’m only getting older/ I’m not ready for the second wave, the weight of seeing through.” His music may not be the danciest — nor the moshiest — but it does pack an emotional punch that will leave audiences floored.
For fans of: Ty Segall, Mac Demarco, Bleached