SAN FRANCISCO — Reunited New York group LCD Soundsystem headlined day one of the Outside Lands Music Festival, but a good portion of the crowd was seeing rapper J. Cole instead.
James Murphy and company delivered favorites from LCD's three LPs, boosted by a lighting and video setup that enhanced their dance punk.
While Murphy isn’t the most engaging frontman, he did bring his crate of swirling, hypnotic beats and throbbing grooves. He rants (“Losing My Edge”) and yells (“Yeah”), but it worked to sell the urgency of the band’s songs. The band closed with a version of "All My Friends" that felt somehow celebratory.
One of the day’s biggest highlights was Foals, which is aging like wine. The last time the group played the festival, now in its ninth year, the British post-punkers helmed the main stage. Relegated to a smaller platform this time, the band showed some of the best fire of the day, delivering a set of confident rockers with driving blasts of guitar. The sun also made its only extended appearance during the band’s set on a day when temperatures routinely hovered in the 50s.
Later, on the same stage, Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats strode in with a point to make. It’s difficult to believe the band is nearly one year removed from its breakthrough appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” when a fiery performance showed Rateliff’s chops and the band’s cohesion. His dance moves showed as well as his politics, mentioning Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential run and urging the crowd to keep his message alive.
Beach House closed the Sutro Stage on Friday. The group was sublime, with its melancholy and moody music matching the overcast, sunset tone. What impresses in the band’s live performance is that their songs retain their fragility from the studio recordings, but manage to project to a crowd of thousands at a festival, too. That helps when the strongest weapon in your arsenal is Victoria Legrand’s voice. The group also used a prop that looked like a see-through curtain that stretched from the stage floor to the lighting rig atop it and, when alight, looked like a constellation of stars. Much like LCD, fans could be seen throughout the set peeling off to go see Cole.
Other notes from day one:
• The Claypool Lennon Delirium — This oddball project brings together the talents of Primus bassist and singer Les Claypool with Sean Lennon, son of the former Beatles singer and Yoko Ono. The combo thrives in reverb-soaked psych rock, including a batch of originals as well as a trippy cover of King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King.”
• Jidenna — The “Classic Man” singer was smooth, dancing his way through a set of his singles that show an encouraging future.
• Moon Taxi — On the tiny Panhandle Stage, the Tennessee band was one of the day’s early highlights, delivering fan favorites such as “Year Zero” and “All Day All Night.”