The 10 Greatest Outside Lands Festival Sets Ever

Article by: Adrian Spinelli|@AGSpinelli

Thu August 06, 2015 | 00:00 AM

This article was originally published in August 2015.

The 8th Annual Outside Lands Festival  goes down this weekend in Golden Gate Park and it's always been a magical place to see your favorite artists while discovering new ones. The last seven renditions have had their slew of memorable acts and this list celebrates the "Best All-Time" moments. Here's to adding to these memories this weekend and share your favorites in the comments below. Cheers!

Arcade Fire at Land's End Stage (2011)

A marvelous headlining set from one of the greatest live acts in the world. Arcade Fire was at the height of the rage surrounding their Album of the Year Grammy winning The Suburbs. The set's best moment was a tease cover version of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" that whipped the crowd into a frenzy, as they morphed it right into "Sprawl II."

Alabama Shakes at Sutro Stage (2012)

Hands down the biggest crowd I've ever seen at Sutro Stage. This was right when the band's first single "Hold On" skyrocketed them to stardom and this set felt like an official coming out party for the band. 

From Andrew Bird to Broken Social Scene to Wilco at Twin Peaks Stage (2008)

Ok...during first year of Outside Lands we just never left Twin Peaks Stage on Sunday. First, it was Andrew Bird, with his double spinning gramaphone, then Broken Social Scene before they split up into many fragments and then Wilco, shortly after Nels Cline joined the band for Sky, Blue, Sky, playing that silky guitar solo on "Impossible Germany." It was such a well-curated stage and one helluva good time.

Kanye West at Land's End Stage (2014)

Outside Lands 2014 Adrian Spinelli   1

Photo by: Adrian Spinelli

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is a real artist who believes everything that comes out of his mouth. We posted up at the Land's End Stage all day to get a good spot for Kanye's headlining set and it was worth it when we had a close glimpse at his madness. At one point, he went from “Heartless” to “Jesus Walks” to “All Falls Down” to “Touch The Sky” and then climaxed with “All Of The Lights.” It was grand.  From playing the hits to awkwardly asking the crowd to make a dance circle almost as many times as he played "Blood on the Leaves" (three), it was everything you could want from a Kanye set. 

Sigur Rós at Twin Peaks Stage (2012)

Closing out the evening in the dark and misty Golden gate Park air, Sigur Ros couldn't have had a better setting for their performance. It didn't matter if you were up in the front or sitting back on the short slope of the Speedway Meadow hillside, the cryptic sound of Jönsi's voice felt like a spiritual shaman calming your nerves at the end of the day. 

Father John Misty at Panhandle Stage (2013)

"We gotta go see this guy! There's this one song I gotta hear!" I told my friends. All I knew about FJM at the time, was that he used to be the drummer in Fleet Foxes and the song "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" was on HEAVY rotation. We posted up at the intimate Panhandle Stage and watched the entire set before he closed with the single we came to see (of course). But damnit if it wasn't meant to be, cause we witnessed the lovably snarky, hip-twisting bravado of a star in the making at the festival's most accessible stage. This could go down as my #1 all-time OSL set. 

The Shins at Twin Peaks Stage (2011)

At first glance, The Shins closing the fest on Friday night seemed like a soft option. I didn't think their sound would play well for a closing set, but James Mercer and company rocked out like no other. It's one of those rare moments when you discover that a rocker is indeed a rock star. 

Jack White's Surprise Set in The Woods (2010)

This is the stuff legends are made of. A van pulled through the forest just beyond the Land's End Stage and out popped Jack White with his guitar and played a short set for those fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. 

Beirut at Sutro Stage (2011)

It was Sunday afternoon and I was battered from the past two days of the fest. Girl Talk was rowdy as all hell the night before and Sunday was just the ultimate day to decompress. Standing on the Sutro Stage hillside, I watched as Beirut's Zach Condon strolled to the sound of a beautiful accordion filling the atmosphere. It was a life-affirming moment, that made the festival experience that year whole. 

Stevie Wonder at Land's End Stage (2012)

Wonder's the type of artist that you never thought you'd have a chance to see play in your lifetime, yet here he was, for two hours, playing every imaginable hit. From opening with "How Sweet It Is" to "My Cherie Amour" to "Superstition" to closing with a cover of The Temptations' "My Girl" as the whole crowd sang along this was the stuff dreams (and the best year of Outside Lands) are made of (full setlist here. Swoon.)

Adrian Spinelli is only one man. Feel free to tell him he's full of shit in the comments below.