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Friday, December 3, 2021

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Arts + CultureMusicWho we're stoked to see the most at Outside...

Who we’re stoked to see the most at Outside Lands

Psychedelic surf rock shenanigans, moody Oakland tropicalia, and house music all day long, among other delights.

Two years in the making. That’s right. We don’t need to rehash everything that everybody has gone through in order to finally get to Outside Lands. We all know what it is. Thank you, Karl The Fog, for escorting us to this massive event in Golden Gate Park Halloween Weekend 2021.

As you all know there are other festivals, a very popular one to the south of The Bay and another very far East of The Bay, both of which decided to forego their own regional music festivals this year. So we are grateful. Overwhelmed. So dang pleased. So much in fact that we are vaxed up, washing our hands, using sanitizer, and masking up when and wherever needed in order to partake in the musical smorgasbord set before us. Because there are numerous amounts of volunteers and workers sacrificing their wellbeing and health, making sure that we get to hear music. 

So let’s be considerate and keep it safe for them and us. OK, PSA time is over. Here are some performances to look out for.

FRI/29

KHRUANGBIN

This little band from Houston with the big name that’s difficult for some to pronounce—it’s Thai for “flying engine”—attracts the most assorted Venn diagram of enthusiasts. Their head-nod combination of surf music, psychedelia, Thai funk, Middle Eastern vamp, disco-to-go strut, and kraut-rock shenanigans lands their sound between ESG on shrooms and the 1970s version of ZZ Top sippin’ lean.

Guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee, and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson-who played in the gospel band at St. John’s United Methodist Church in downtown Houston (the home church of Beyoncé, Solange, and the rest of the Knowles family), have collectively deferred to their own inner compass with rapturous success over the past decade. This is a band that makes rock rumors come true when seen live in the flesh.

BRITTANY HOWARD

Brittany Howard’s 2019 debut solo album Jaime, named after her late sister, was a coming-out party for a new singular force who could take us all on a trip through rock, funk, folk, hip-hop, and some undefined shit too.

That’s what an artist does. It’s they job. 

Howard, full of confidence, presented these sound worlds from Prince-informed sheen, Sharon Jones’ gravitational pull, and DʻAngelo mood funk. All bursting past the polite retro-soul niceness of her band Alabama Shakes’ 2012 Boys & Girls and vast-reaching, further out, 2015 Grammy-winning Sound & Color. Expect Howard to bring the thunder. Revel In it.

SOMA TENT

This year Outside Lines decided to bring the club into the forest. Pitch it up between the trees.

A brand new experience and another way patrons to dance the day (and night) away: SOMA Tent. Located in Marx Meadow and inspired by underground clubs and late nights, SOMA Tent, according to the site, features non-stop dance music all weekend long. 

With a line-up that stretches all three days, including top-flight talent I’d wait in line for: Green Velvet, Ash Lauren, Wajeed, Maya Jane Coles, and others. This may actually be a good idea, with your mask firmly affixed: House music all day long!

SAT/30

BRIJEAN

Oakland percussionist Brijean Murphy told us in February that she and bandmate Doug Stuart have a very particular way of constructing songs and conjuring up fresh ideas. “When we write songs, we write rhythms first,” said Murphy. “So we started with drums and percussion and then built off of that. It’s definitely elemental to the music writing.” Tropicalia expansiveness, house music posture, and ’70s mellow disco flair: Brijean is that stretch. Reminiscent of those yesterday/tomorrow outfits. Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band comes to mind, aesthetically. This Oakland-based duo presents a tasteful symmetry between modernism and sentimentality.

When they perform selections from their recent Feelings, Murphy’s “romancing the psyche” debut release on the “transcending” Ghostly International label, expect polyrhythms that move with aquatic swooshes, languid energy redirections, blissful grooves, and loaded-up bossa nova touches.

Great to see a Bay Area talent such as this given the well-deserved spotlight at such an event.

SUN/31

NEAL FRANCIS

Neal Francis, a piano prodigy and boogie-woogie enthusiast who toured Europe by the age of 18 with Muddy Waters’ son, shall soon release his sophomore album In Plain Sight on November 5. His “Changes (Demos) EP” from this past March gave us a sneak peek into the initial sketches at the onset of his career as a singer and songwriter. Those demos eventually became Neal Francis’ debut album, Changes. Raw evidence that the foot-stomping bluesy vistas surrounding the nasally atonal, dead-ass vocal delivery by Francis are ones to get familiar with. 

YVES TUMOR AND ITS BAND AT BIMBO’S

Nobody really freaking knows exactly what to expect at a live show from Yves Tumor, but you can bet, you’ll never forget it. You can be assured to be engulfed in some of the most dynamic, challenging, and beautiful music being made in rock and roll right now. I kid, and this is no disrespect, but there is a reason Eddie Van Halen passed away last year. Just take a look around. You see his legacy in Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast, St. Vincent, and of course Yves Tumor. 

So settle in with a stiff drink at one of the swankiest spots in The City and get ready for one of the best performances of the weekend.

OUTSIDE LANDS runs October 29-31in Golden Gate Park. It’s sold out, but you might be able to find a friend who can put you on?

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.
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