Paul McCartney thrilled a crowd of 65,000 people at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to close out the first night of Outside Lands 2013, whipping out a cavalcade of hits to warm up the chilly night air.
Taking the stage just after 7 p.m., McCartney launched into Beatles’ classic “Eight Days A Week,” then rollicked through a nearly three-hour set. Macca trotted out Wings songs often — like “Live and Let Die” with pyrotechnics launching off from atop the stage — before ending with the sing-a-long song to beat them all, “Hey Jude.” As if it’s possible, even bigger Beatles’ hits highlighted the encore, including “Day Tripper,” “Helter Skelter” and “The End.”
While fog, mist and even a little drizzly rain hung over the festival for the most of the day, the crowd rolled with the autumnal weather, with a plethora of stylish fashion statements being made by women and me alike — animal-themed hats and flower crowns were prevailing sartorial trends.
Nile Rodgers and Chic played a revelatory set of classic dance music, schooling a sea of younger fans in his bottomless catalog of hit songs. “Good Times” and “Le Freak” were played of course, as well as classics the band wrote for Diana Ross (“Upside Down”) and Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) and a rousing rendition of David Bowie’s 1983 single “Let’s Dance.” Rodgers ended the show with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” playing over the sound system, as he thanked the crowd for “making it No. 1 in 97 countries.”
Other Day 1 highlights included a warm, jazzy set from emerging quiet storm heroes Rhye, stretching out songs from their debut album, Woman into even more intimate moments for couples dotting the rolling meadow in front of the stage.
Across the festival on the Pan Handle stage, Portland’s Chromatics played a synth-focused set of the band’s patented icy electro, with mastermind Johnny Jewel pogoing behind his keyboards while singer Ruth Radelet seduced the crowd with her whispery vocals on songs like Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill” and tracks from the band’s 2012 full-length, Kill for Love.
Music fans not in San Francisco for the festivities can still check in on the action via the Outside Lands webcast (watch it here), which on Day 2 (August 10) will include performances from Phoenix, Grizzly Bear and a revived Nine Inch Nails, who just last week dazzled Chicago’s Lollapalooza with a high-tech set thick with hits.