By Dave Pehling
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 the festival:
FRIDAY AUG. 10
Shannon and the Clams (Twin Peaks Stage 12:40 p.m.)
An institution on the Bay Area garage-rock scene, bassist/vocalist Shannon Shaw and company have been mixing trashy punk with doo-wop, surf and vintage ’60s girl-group sounds for nearly a decade. A regular attraction at the annual Burger Boogaloo festival in Oakland (director and regular MC John Waters has called them his favorite group), the band received a boost last year when Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach fell in love with the band after hearing them at a record store. He produced their latest album Onion and released it on his Easy Eye Sound imprint earlier this year. Auerbach also helped Shaw producer her spectacular solo debut Shannon in Nashville, a soulful effort that showcases her brassy, emotive voice over lush orchestrations featuring players who recorded with her hero, Roy Orbison.
Margo Price (Sutro Stage 2:45 p.m.)
A rising country talent who moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music when she was 20, Price became a fixture of the city’s more traditional, less pop-minded country scene after she and guitarist (and Price’s future husband) Jeremy Ivey founded the bands Secret Handshake and Buffalo Clover. Her own backing band the Pricetags has featured such luminaries as Sturgill Simpson and longtime Marty Stuart Band guitarist Kenny Vaughan. The release of her proper solo debut album Midwest Farmers Daughter on Jack White’s Third Man Records established Price as a songwriter to watch. Subsequent appearances on Saturday Night Live and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and work with country icon Willie Nelson (they’ve recorded a duet and she is set to have her own strain of Nelson’s marijuana brand) have only solidified her reputation.
LUXXURY (The House 3:30 p.m.)
First coming to wide recognition for a series of craftily remixed ’70s and ’80s rock classics — everything from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and the Eagles to Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and the Talking Heads — Luxxury (aka former SF resident Blake Robin) scored a boatload of fans, ample press coverage including a New York Times article and a stack of cease-and-desist orders. While his unique dub-influenced, disco-fied re-imaginings of those radio standards would end up being banned from sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, fans can still experience them during his live sets that mix in some of his original tracks that work a style that echoes the sequencer-fueled Italian disco of Giorgio Moroder.
N.E.R.D. (Lands End Stage 4:55 p.m.)
Pharrell Williams had already been half of the successful production duo the Neptunes (who helped make hits for the likes of N.O.R.E., Jay-Z and Britney Spears) when he and his Neptunes partner Chad Hugo decided to launch a new project with N.E.R.D. in 1999. Initially working with the rock band Spymob as collaborators for their debut In Search Of…, they later took over playing instruments while bringing on guest like Lenny Kravitz and Roots drummer ?uestlove. After an extended hiatus, N.E.R.D. reemerged with a new album last year.
Chicano Batman (Sutro Stage 5:20 p.m.)
This eclectic Los Angeles-based quartet formed a decade ago and quickly made a name for itself with a reputation for high-energy live performances and a heady mix of Latin soul, psychedelia and funk. An eminently danceable music fest favorite, the group fronted by singer/multi-instrumentalist Bardo Martinez has gotten crowds dancing at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and San Francisco’s own Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
SATURDAY AUG. 11
Kikagaku Moyo (Twin Peaks Stage 12 p.m.)
A powerhouse Japanese psych band that has already built a loyal stateside following with its tireless touring, Kikagaku Moyo is one of the more adventurous acts scheduled for this year’s Outside Lands. Formed in 2012, the group has evolved from a more pastoral, acoustic psych-folk sound to its current incarnation delivering howling, guitar-fueled space rock excursions. Earlier this year, the band toured extensively with rising U.S. psych trio Earthless and shared the stage with the band at the annual Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands. Kikagaku Moyo recently released the first teaser track from the band’s upcoming new effort Masana Temples set for October release.
Lizzo (Lands End Stage 2:20 p.m.)
First coming to fame in her Minneapolis home base as part of the electronic soul duo Lizzo & the Larva Ink and the all-female R&B/hip-hop crew Chalice, Lizzo broke out on her own with the release of her acclaimed independent solo debut Lizzobangers produced by Doomtree affiliates Lazerbeak and Ryan Olsen. She has since moved on to a major label, putting out the EP Coconut Oil in 2016 before blowing up with the massive hit “Truth Hurts” last year. She her all-inclusive, body-positive message to at Outside Lands ahead of an anticipated fall tour opening for Florence + the Machine and St. Vincent.
GoGo Penguin (Panhandle Stage 4:35 p.m.)
A trio of talented musicians from Manchester in England, GoGo Penguin cross the streams of avant-garde jazz and breakbeat-driven electronic dance with their kinetic sound. Signed to Blue Note, pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner present muscular, minimalist tunes from their most recent effort A Humdrum Star when they play the intimate Panhandle stage Saturday.
Tycho (Twin Peaks Stage 6:15 p.m.)
San Francisco producer, musician and songwriter Scott Hansen has been making his distinctive style of cinematic, downtempo instrumental songs since the early 2000s, mining a style inspired by the groundbreaking sounds of ’90s electronic music heroes like DJ Shadow and Boards of Canada. Where most electronic musicians rely on lighting and visuals to augment their performances, Hansen has assembled a talented four-piece band that helps him recreate his dynamic soundscapes onstage. His latest album, 2016’s Epoch on Ghostly International, was nominated for the Best Dance/Electronic Album Grammy last year.
SUNDAY AUG. 12
Durand Jones & the Indicators (Lands End Stage 12:45 p.m.)
Started as a one-off side project by a few students at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Durand Jones & the Indicators has become one of the hardest working retro soul bands touring the country today. The band channeled its love of James Brown and Otis Redding on its fiery 2016 debut that was recorded on a four-track Tascam deck in the drummer’s basement and took to the road, playing clubs across the nation and building a solid fan base with their sweaty, soul testifying live shows.
Red Room Orchestra (The Barbary 2:40 p.m.)
Started last year by veteran San Francisco musician and bandleader Marc Capelle as a group focused on interpreting the music from iconic director David Lynch’s surreal television show Twin Peaks, the Red Room Orchestra was soon expanding its mission to become SF’s premiere soundtrack interpreters and experimental large ensemble. In addition to providing live musical support to weird found footage at the SF International Film Festival and a staged reading of Trains, Planes and Automobiles at Clusterfest this year, the group headlined two showcase performances at Sketchfest. For Outside Lands, the group will perform select music from the films of Wes Anderson with special guest guitarist James Williamson of the Stooges. The group also returns to its Twin Peaks roots with a set alongside series actors Michael Horse (Deputy Hawk) and James Marshall (James Hurley) at the Gastro Magic Stage at 5:45 p.m.
Monophonics (Panhandle Stage 4:20 p.m.)
Formed by drummer Austin Bolman in 2005, Marin-based outfit Monophonics has undergone a dramatic evolution during its decade plus existence. While got its start mining a vein of instrumental jazz-funk similar to boogaloo revivalists Soulive and the Greyboy Allstars, with the release of their third album, 2012’s In Your Brain, the band revealed that its members had done some serious woodshedding in the Temptations’ “Psychedelic Shack.” Drenched in fuzztone and awash in Echoplex delay, songs like “Sure Is Funky,” “All Together,” and the title track hearkened back to the acid-laced grooves of early Funkadelic. Their latest covers EP Mirrors offers a hard-grooving look at the band’s pop, soul and psychedelic influences.
Janelle Monáe (Lands End Stage 4:40 p.m.)
One of the most forward-thinking R&B artists working today, Monáe made her first inroads in the music business after meeting Outkast member Big Boi in Atlanta. She appeared on Outkast’s Idlewild album and was soon signed to Puffy’s Bad Boy Entertainment, who released her futurist concept EP Metropolis: Suite I and debut album The ArchAndroid. Referencing everything from David Bowie ever-shifting musical personas to Prince’s wide-ranging, sexually charged funk, Monáe was rightly hailed as a leading light of modern soul. While she has taken time off from her music career to pursue acting with roles in celebrated films like the Oscar-winning Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Monáe returned this year with her ambitious new concept album (released alongside a companion “emotion picture” film) celebrating pansexuality entitled Dirty Computer.