I hitched an Über with some dear friends and managed to skip the walking bullsh*t today. As the black car crept toward the ocean through the gridlock on Fulton Street that I endured yesterday, I noticed the absence of rain and to a certain extent, even clouds. The City had cleaned her act up considerably from day 1.
After slipping in around 2:30 p.m. with the bleep of the scanner, I made my way through the festival back to our favorite locale of the weekend so far, the Dome by Heineken. After convincing the door-girl and then her immediate supervisor that I would literally die if I was forced to wait, I was admitted into the dark structure. After squeezing in past the bar into the neon green-lit dome, I assumed a position by the wall and enjoyed the end of DJ Sam Spiegel’s rock-heavy electro set while I waited for Lazy Rich, our first target of the day.
I leaned up against the white plastic wall of the Dome, bobbing my head with the other massive, inflated objects floating above the sea of bodies. A smaller, neon-clad guy with serious accessory fever stood in front of me and nodded his head, wrapped in an orange headband. I nearly facepalmed the stranger’s skull out of my general vicinity just before I realized it was my photographer, Jon April, after a swag shopping spree.
“Check out this headband, man! Toyota gang… plus, I’m like, Hype Machine everything!” he said, showing me his pen, keychain bottle-opener, and more branded items he came across while waiting for me to arrive.
Lazy Rich rode the momentum from the heavy previous set and tested the limits of the sound system for the next hour while April and I elevated our heart rates before taking on the beast yet again. Afterwards we left the dark limbo-land and re-entered reality out the back door of the Dome. Under some of the first sunshine of the weekend, Jon and I walked through the main stage area and up over the crest separating it from the Twin Peaks realm of the grounds and funneled in with the rest of Baauer’s loony fanbase.
With 30 minutes to go, something caught my eye:
“Dear God, is that true?” I asked, pointing at a sign reading “FREE Chipotle.”
“Yeah, but there’s a line,” April said.
But I was aware of this, because I was already in it, dreaming of tacos, before he finished his sentence.
“I’m gonna go to the photo pit and wait.”
After some deliberation and number-crunching on the seats and bodies in line, I realized I would perish from hunger or lack of Baauer before I ever got a taco, so against my better judgement, I relinquished my place in line and plodded off empty-stomached to eat booze and wait for the set.
It’s an amazing time to be a trap artist. With so many massive new hits and classic ’90s and ’00s hip hop jams at your disposal, building a fanatic fanbase into a frenzy is easy for one Harry Rodriguez, aka Baauer. Opening with Kanye West’s Dark Fantasy and his Higher collab with Jay-Z and Just Blaze, he slammed into a long string of trap tasties from recent months and turned the Twin Peaks stage into a twerking, tunrt-up free-for-all.
With a dynamic approach to his sets and non-stop energy behind the decks, Baauer proved to everyone still holding some shred of a doubt, that he is the real deal, and f*ck whatever you thought you knew about the guy who made The Harlem Shake.
His face contorted with each climax and drop while he remained unable to stand still on stage, earning him the title of the Rusko of trap. He tossed in some of his own productions as well, like his remix of Nero’s Won’t You and, of course, the infamous shake.
“San Francisco you’re the f*cking best,” he announced, signing off around 6 p.m.
Jon had returned by this point, and the two of us waited out the crowd with our own personal cocktail hour on the grass in VIP. Jon and I then parted ways again while he took in some Yeah Yeah Yeahs with his lady friend and I shared some paella with Ari Evans.
“Lazy Rich was the sh*****t!” He announced to me, struggling to keep the paella from coming out along with his high-spirited declaration. After refueling, we went with the flow of the crowd, BS-ing and sipping whiskey-coke until we received a call from a mutual friend advertising the open bar at the soundstage where YYY was currently performing.
“Holy… lamb and rice, Batman, why aren’t we over there?”
Pushing our way up to the central structure, I was able to sneak into the soundstage area long enough to use the short-lined bathroom and no-charge bar.
“Hey, there’s no media in here,” a stern-looking dude in an OSL shirt said.
“Are you sure?” I asked. Before offering him a chance to retort, I said, “That’s fine, I’m all done here anyway,” as someone else shouting my name pulled my attention.
“Jake?” I reached across the barrier into the GA horde to link hands with a member of Santa Cruz’s fast-rising local talent scene. Going by Jayko, Jake Lubell was a pleasant surprise, even after he wasted no time in ordering a drink for himself from my bar.
“Don’t worry, I got you,” I replied across the barrier, turning back toward the bartender. Then, a hand came to rest on my shoulder.
“I know what you’re doing, and if I see you do it, you’ll be outta here so fast,” a stern-looking man in security garb told me.
“Outta the Outside Lands? Uh-oh… well, I assure you that I’m not doing what you think I’m doing, and that I’m just particularly thirsty.”
He didn’t answer, staring me in the eyes.
“Extra ice!” Shouted Jake from the crowd, as I smiled at my new friend.
The hand finally left my shoulder, and I took my cocktails and double-fisted my way out the back gate to Jake, and we headed back east to the Panhandle Stage for the main man with the sax plan, GRiZ.
One of the most intimate venues in the festival, the Panhandle Stage is only about four feet off the ground and surrounded with equally high stacks of hay bales. Jayko and I staked a claim on one corner of the pile and prepared for the imminent onslaught of glitch and smooth saxophone. As the sun went down over Golden Gate Park, GRiZ took the stage and worked what seemed like the entire population of the Pretty Lights set from the night before into an insatiable frenzy.
He went so hard, I lost my notebook some time around Next Episode made heads spin and asses shake in all directions, so I’ve been writing this from memory. As the hands-down best set of the night, it leaned more toward the blurry side, but I distinctly remember a very bassed-out, sax-infused version of Get Lucky, from whICH GRiZ moved into Ball So Hard, and I thought “‘Ball So Hard’ is f*cking right; look at these people losing their sh*t.”
Before the end of the set, I traded Jayko for Jon again, and the two of us enjoyed the rest of his extra-long performance and waited on the hay bales for the young talent from Detroit. After catching up with some superfans, GRiZ, or Grant Kwiecinski, met us outside his tent backstage.
“Man, that set was incredible… so diverse. And your manager told me you put it together an hour ago.”
“Yeah,” he laughed.
“Are there any of those tracks that are especially significant to you in any way?”
“All of ‘em, man, I mean… I was watching Animal House yesterday, so I had to put in Shout,” he said, “one of the greatest party movie scenes of all time. Other than that, Put Your Hands Up For Detroit, that’s like my hometown love song, right there.”
He took a drag from his cigarette and extinguished it in the ashtray on the table wet with mist from the air, and told us about his side-project and the making of the video for My People, his latest collab with Gramatik.
“The only reason why we threw the budget together was we wanted to make music,” he explained, citing the birth of Grizmatik.
“We have a really similar workflow, and we just wanted to make really cool music that we enjoyed, and our fans kind of took it to the level that it’s at, and we were like ‘alright, we’ll follow, we’ll bring it.'”
GRiZ sat relaxed in the plastic chair under the misty twilight of the park as he explained to Jon and I how excited he was for his set at Shambhala, for which he was flying into Vancouver at 4 a.m.
“And the last time I went into Canada, I got kicked out,” he said with a chuckle, “so hopefully it goes better this time.”
We spent the rest of our sesh talking about Canadian girls and bid the cool young talent safe travels and drew the curtains on night two of Outside Lands 2013.
“By the way, I lost my notebook, so if you see a little notebook with puppies on it, that’s mine. Save it for me?”
“Will do,” he laughed.