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 Friday’s schedule:
Down and Outlaws (Panhandle Stage 12 p.m.)
Formed in 2012, San Francisco-based band Down and Outlaws deliver a gritty style of blues-tinged rock that touches on classic ’70s sounds but manages to avoid coming off as blatantly retro. The quartet’s debut album Above Snakes was recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 and boasts tight song craft and catchy hooks that recalls the Black Keys at their most anthemic.
Vulfpeck (Panhandle Stage 2:55 p.m.)
A talented soul/funk group that first came together when the players were music students at the University of Michigan, Vulfpeck earned notoriety a couple of years ago when it earned $20,000 in royalties from Spotify with it’s silent Sleepify album after encouraging fans to play the songs online (the royalties funded a subsequent tour). Vulfpeck has since appeared on Late Night With Stephen Colbert and issued several albums and EPs showcasing impressive musical chops and tuneful grooves that echo vintage Motown hits, Hall and Oates and Steely Dan.
Poliça (Twin Peaks Stage 3:40 p.m.)
Mixing elements of modern electro soul, synth pop and alternative rock, Minneapolis-based band Poliça has been building an international reputation ever since singer Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olsen (whose diverse resume includes work with sprawling soft-rock collective Gayngs and experimental electronic noise act Marijuana Deathsquads) first started releasing songs by the collaborative project in 2011. The band’s third album for Mom + Pop Music United Crushers from earlier this year has been praised as the group’s most compelling yet.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium (Sutro Stage 5:10 p.m.)
The new collaboration between Bay Area bass hero and Primus main man Les Claypool and renowned solo artist and Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger guitar player Sean Lennon makes its local debut at Outside Lands. Hatched after fruitful post-gig jam sessions during a joint summer tour by their two main bands, the pair convened at Claypool’s home studio in Sebastapol for a month and a half of psychedelic noodling that gave birth to their recently released prog/space-rock recording, Monolith of Phobos. The live band is rounded out by longtime Beastie Boys keyboard player “Money Mark” Ramos Nishita and drummer Paulo Baldi (who also plays with Cake and Claypool’s Fancy Band).
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Sutro Stage 6:30 p.m.)
Channeling a mixture of Stax soul and His Band and the Street Choir/Tupelo Honey-era Van Morrison, singer Nathaniel Rateliff explored a style of modern folk-rock similar to Bon Iver and Iron & Wine prior to putting together his raucous R&B combo the Night Sweats together in 2013. Quickly earning a rabid following around their Denver home base, Rateliff and company have been praised as one of the most electrifying live acts to emerge from Colorado in years.
Kyle Kinane (The Barbary 6:45 p.m.)
Gravel-voiced comic Kyle Kinane is sure to be one of the highlights on this year’s packed schedule at the Barbary. Beloved for his literate, often poetic writing style (who else would call a Comedy Central stand-up special Whiskey Icarus?) and vividly bleak anecdotes, Kinane offers up grim yet hilarious tales of his own foibles and the spectacular failures of others when he shares the stage with Anthony Jeselnik and Claudia O’Doherty (he also performs Saturday and Sunday).