SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While the big main-stage headliners are always a major draw to any outdoor festival, veteran Outside Lands attendees know that sometimes the best moments of the festivals can be had earlier in the day, especially at the smaller stages.
Here’s a list of some recommended acts to catch during the course of Sunday’s schedule:
Heron Oblivion (Panhandle Stage 12 p.m.)
Celebrated all-star psych quartet Heron Oblivion has made some serious waves in its short existence. Comets on Fire veterans Ethan Miller (bass) and Noel Von Harmonson (guitar) first teamed with Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound mainstay Charlie Saufley (guitar) and noted psych-folk artist Meg Baird (drums and vocals) during informal jam sessions that started in 2014. The band would evolve organically, conjuring a sound that wraps Baird’s crystalline singing voice with a gradually blossoming guitar squall equally indebted to Crazy Horse-era Neil Young and Japanese neo-psych giants like High Rise and Acid Mothers Temple. The band’s Sub Pop debut released this past spring has been hailed as one of the best rock albums of 2016.
Kamasi Washington (Lands End Stage 12 p.m.)
Saxophonist Kamasai Washington has made a meteoric rise over the past year, but the adventurous jazz talent has been making a name for himself for well over a decade. A precocious musical talent, Washington studied at the prestigious Alexander Hamilton High School’s Academy of Music in Los Angeles before getting accepted to UCLA on a scholarship to study with the Department of Enthnomusicology. Washington would perform with noted faculty members like guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Billy Higgins and began independently releasing his own albums in 2004. Equally adept with jazz and hip-hop (he has collaborated with his hero Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock as well as such rap luminaries as Nas, Snoop Dogg and Flying Lotus), last year Washington was a major contributor to Kendrick Lamar’s landmark To Pimp A Butterfly album in addition to releasing his own celebrated three-disc opus The Epic.
The Muppets’ Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (Lands End Stage 2:30 p.m.)
Some music fans might be thinking that the appearance by the longtime house band of The Muppet Show as little more than a comic novelty, but how often do you get a chance to see a legendary Jim Henson creation come to life onstage? A staple of the Muppets’ television programs and movies dating back to their central role in the pilot episode of The Muppet Show in 1975, the group featuring flamboyant keyboard player and leader Dr. Teeth, ultra mellow bassist Floyd Pepper and everyone’s favorite monster drummer Animal has had a resurgence in recent years. The group took the spotlight in several viral videos produced by Muppet Studios since 2010 and returned to its familiar place as house band in The Muppets show-within-a-show, Up Late with Miss Piggy.
DIIV (Panhandle Stage 4:20 p.m.)
The creative outlet for songwriter Z. Cole Smith, Brooklyn indie-rock outfit DIIV has earned praises from cultural web outposts like Pitchfork and Stereogum. Signed to noted imprint Captured Tracks on the strength of several songs recorded by Smith alone, the musician gathered a group of friends to form the band and craft its debut album Oshin that mixed elements of krautrock, early ’90s alternative sounds and global grooves. Though work on the band’s follow up effort was slowed by false starts and struggles with drugs (Smith was arrested with girlfriend Sky Ferriera and later entered rehab, while drummer Colby Hewitt would depart to focus on fighting his addiction), the group’s latest release Is the Is Are has been met with rave reviews.
Jason Isbell (Sutro Stage 5:15 p.m.)
A former member of the revered alt-country powerhouse band the Drive-By Truckers (he joined the group when he was only 22 for a six-year stint starting in 2001), Jason Isbell has come into his own over the past decade as a solo Americana star. Producing albums both under his own name and with his sometimes touring group the 400 Unit, the gifted songwriter delivers emotionally charged confessionals and nuanced, Southern Gothic character studies in his powerful, literate songs.