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Outside Lands 2017: 10 Best Things We Saw

The 10th anniversary edition of the San Francisco music festival was full of surprises

Best of Outside Lands 2017

Gorillaz & special guests perform on Day 1 of the 2017 Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

The 10th anniversary edition of the Outside Lands music festival unfurled on a classically breezy San Francisco weekend where the damp fog never seemed to let up. There were other storms brewing, too: A Tribe Called Quest postponed their Friday night set, and then decided to cancel altogether, leaving many revelers frustrated and upset. (However, group member Jarobi showed up to give a solo performance alongside Bay Area ensemble Jazz Mafia on one of the small stages.) Tribe’s absence was the second this year; Queens of the Stone Age backed out on July 31st because of an unspecified injury. Despite those issues, Outside Lands still had plenty to offer. Here, 10 of the best things we saw over the three days.

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Sleigh Bells – Day 1

Sleigh Bells roused with a galvanizing set. Alexis Krauss sang like a post-millennial Pat Benatar, and even rapped occasionally like a fourth member of the Beastie Boys on “Bitter Rivals.” Meanwhile, Derek Miller slashed out crunchy metallic riffs that gave the music a bouncy yet edgy industrial edge. But Krauss was the center of the storm, and a buoyantly grinning host that proved infectious to anyone watching. She crowd-surfed and shouted out the girls forming mosh pits. “Oh man, this was really fun!” she shouted. Even if you weren’t familiar with songs like “Just Us Now” and “I Can Only Stare,” it was hard to stand still.

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Pusha T and Gorrilaz – Day 1

Gorillaz headlined Friday night for the first concert of their 2017 tour. They pulled out all the stops by inviting nearly a dozen guests, from rappers Pusha T, Little Simz and Bootie Brown of the Pharcyde to Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, whose shimmering, silvery dress cast a glow as she sang “Empire Ants.” 

Andy Keilen for Rolling Stone

Metallica – Day 2

Saturday night belonged to Metallica. They spent as much time on new material from last year’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct as they did on their unassailable back catalog, like “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Motorbreath.” “That’s some Kill ‘Em All for ya, baby!” roared James Hetfield after the latter. Still, the biggest cheers were reserved for “Master of Puppets” and their final encore, “Enter Sandman,” which inspired thousands to sing along and bang their heads.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Who – Day 3

At the end of the festival, the Who took over the main stage, and even the mostly twenty-something crowd sang along to timeless hits, such as “Who Are You,” while Pete Townshend worked his ageless windmill guitar riffs. 

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Solange – Day 3

Solange‘s was the set that truly stood out. Tucked away on a side stage, she and her ensemble bathed themselves in red light, and magnetized the audience with choreographed dance moves, unabashed twerking, and key cuts from last year’s chart-topping A Seat at the Table. When she hit a particularly high note on “Cranes in the Sky,” it felt cathartic, especially during a weekend that found numerous Outside Lands performers commenting on the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Before we do this next song, I want to say stay up. I know it’s been a rough few days. … You matter, you belong,” Solange told the crowd. Then she asked everyone to “just let it out and dance.” And when she performed “Losing You,” they did just that.

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