By: Jackson Howard
When you combine one of the country's most storied, stylish and cultured cities, a smorgasbord of culinary options (I ate a tomato soup/grilled cheese combo and a plate of fried chicken and waffles in the same day, but that's a different story) and some of the best music in the world (hello, Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar), you pretty much reach nirvana. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Outside Lands. Considering San Francisco's role in the founding of Levi's, it was no surprise to see a wide-display of carefully curated denim at the festival, notwithstanding a few pairs of RE/DONE's. Torn and frayed cut-offs, grass-stained boyfriend jeans and patches and holes encircling knees drifted throughout the festival. Some people got creative with denim overalls, while a few others ventured in rompers. Needless to say, San Francisco knows its denim.
U.S. festivals, like Outside Lands, Coachella or Bonnaroo, tend to underscore a sense of heritage — whether it be American, musical or simply personal. Maybe just the idea of tens of thousands of strangers frolicking and dancing in fields together makes us think back to "the good old days," yet something distinctly genuine and tangible was without a doubt present this year in San Francisco. There were American flags sewn into old Levi's and painted on backs, leather bracelets and cuffs stacked on arms and plenty of smiles. Without a question, RE/DONE icons like Kate Moss, Joni Mitchell and Mick Jagger would’ve been at home. The artists themselves were no different in adhering to this trend of heritage. Cold War Kids frontman, Nathan Willett, rocked a stiff pair of dark denim while cranking out songs like "Hang Me Out to Dry," while Tame Impala mastermind, Kevin Parker, effortlessly breezed through his band’s recent album, Currents, in a blue scarf with some light blue jeans, certainly – if unintentionally – recalling San Francisco in the ’60s.
D’Angelo, back to rocking stages after a 14 year gap between albums, brought his legendary funk, groove and style to the festival. Mixing and matching layers of black clothing and topping it off with a crème hat tilted ever so slightly, D displayed an elegance and energy foreign to most musical acts in 2015.
The festival was over almost as soon as it started, but, as always, Outside Lands managed to leave a lasting impact on everyone involved. Walking around the festival grounds and watching both artists and concertgoers in their respective fits, the words identity and community continued to come to mind, from how we choose to express ourselves to how we incorporate and share our own distinct heritages. One thing is for certain: next year will be even better.