Outside Lands Festival returns to Golden Gate Park
This article first appeared on KCPR.org. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
A few hours from San Luis Obispo on the coast is San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, home to one of the largest annual music festivals in the United States: Outside Lands. Welcoming more than 100 artists from various genres, the festival attracted more than 200,000 people over three days.
Since its inception in 2008, the festival has brought a number of big names to San Francisco, such as Radiohead, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kanye West. This year’s headliners included SZA, Green Day and Post Malone. Alongside these captains of industry was a wide repertoire of bands and artists who brought memorable performances to Golden Gate Park.
Upon entering the festival, attendees were greeted by a large statue of Ranger Dave on the north side of the park. This side housed the Sutro scene, hosting a range of indie and alternative acts, including Mt. Joy, Faye Webster and Polo & Pan.
On a path decorated with vibrations and colors, the Twin Peaks and Panhandle stages hosted shows of all genres on the far east side of the park.
The Polo Field, the main festival area, housed dozens of food vendors, the West Coast Craft x Outside Lands Marketplace and the Lands End main stage, where the headliners performed.
In addition to music, many activities were offered to participants. These included a 21+ person area surrounding all things cannabis, an art exhibit sponsored by Monster Energy, an EDM-centric house and tent, and a culinary stage where artists and chefs performed. collaborated on a number of recipes.
Friday brought 26 artists who performed on the four main stages. Kicking off the day was experimental pop artist SPELLLING, who performed on the Sutro stage. SPELLLING could also be found later in the afternoon at the Music Den by Toyota, a smaller venue set under trees and decorative disco balls.
Faye Webster hit the stage soon after and performed a variety of songs from her discography, including the hits ‘Kingston’, ‘Right Side of My Neck’ and ‘Better Distractions’. His dreamy vocals and slow guitar created a quiet yet captivating hour-long set.
Next to the Sutro stage was the Lands End stage, where Haitus Kaioyte opened his set with “Rose Water” and rode through a 10-song performance inspired by funk and jazz, including a cover of “Within You” by David Bowie.
The Marías performed in the early evening, drawing thousands to the Twin Peaks stage. Wearing a flowing white dress, Maria Zardoya led the band through a mesmerizing set in front of psychedelic visuals dominated by the band’s signature red color.
After the sun finally set behind the horizon, Phoebe Bridgers and SZA took the Twin Peaks and Lands End stages. Bridgers expressed disappointment at not being able to see the performance happening simultaneously across the park, joking that the only downside to the audience being on his set is that they were missing SZA.
Both performances could be heard from across the park, making it easy for fans of both artists to experience both sets. Bridgers made her performance memorable with storybook visuals, crowd surfing and giving fans the microphone during “Scott Street.”
According to their website, with the help of onsite waste reduction organization Clean Vibes, Outside Lands diverted 86% of all waste from landfill in 2021 and expects similar results from this year. . Other sustainability efforts included refillable water bottle stations and a partnership with Proud Source Water for a plastic-free festival.
Eco Lands, a sustainability-focused zone where local and national nonprofits educated and led conversations with the festival community, returned on Friday. This is where the festival’s efforts to keep the park relatively pristine and beautiful throughout the year came to life.
One of the nonprofits featured was Garden for the Environment, an educational organization that focuses on teaching gardening and plant care in the San Francisco climate.
“A lot of festivals can take on a more commercial role and can be very expensive,” said Hana Park, teaching assistant at Garden for the Environment. “But having a sustainable approach by bringing us here, along with other local suppliers, helps share ideas about how we can make a difference together.”
Benny Sings kicked off the second day of this festival with a fun and lively performance on the Sutro stage and was attended by jazz artist Robert Glasper.
The local aboriginals then put on a fantastic afternoon performance on the Lands End stage. Crowds began pouring into the park around this time, and the band drew thousands to the polo fields.
“San Francisco is like a second home,” Local Natives lead singer Taylor Rice said between songs. “You are always so amazing with us.”
Rice dedicated the set’s final song, “When am I Gonna Lose You,” to her son, who was attending his first festival. Whether or not viewers knew the song, the catchy tempo and rhythmic chorus had them dancing.
Mac DeMarco took the Lands End stage after Local Natives, providing the perfect soundtrack for a relaxed, sunny and beautiful Saturday afternoon. Although his songs often had a slower pace, DeMarco kept audiences moving and dancing to songs from across his discography, like “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” “Together,” and “Another One.”
Kali Uchis appeared at the Gastromagic Culinary Stage in the early afternoon, where she, alongside culinary icon Nyesha Arrington, prepared red pepper arepas. Later, Uchis headlined the Twin Peaks stage, bringing his sensational bilingual, psychedelic pop energy to close out the evening on the west side of the park.
Meanwhile, Green Day’s performance on the south side of the park was nothing short of sensational. Hailing from the East Bay area, the band was thrilled to play at a hometown festival.
Setting the tone with “American Idiot,” “Holiday” and other hits, Green Day rocked an explosive set while interacting with the crowd. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong even invited a 10-year-old boy up on stage to play guitar during the band’s cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge.” The performance surely reminded the crowd that rock and roll is still alive and well.
Speaking of local, the West Coast Craft x Outside Lands Marketplace at the back of the polo grounds hosted about four dozen local vendors, who sold a variety of items including jewelry, home decor, wellness products and vintage clothing. Attendees could even take a break from the chaotic festival environment and take part in relaxing personal care with a CBD massage.
Moody Goose Vintage was among the many vendors that moved into the market. This was the vintage collective’s first year as a seller at Outside Lands (OSL), and founder Kristina Zhu Schagane was thrilled to be a part of it.
“I’ve lived my whole life in a house three blocks from OSL,” Schagane said. “To be able to contribute to the dynamism of the successes of the festival close to home, literally and figuratively.”
For those who love the San Francisco club scene, the SOMA tent offered over nine hours of non-stop house music each day of the festival. Live DJs included J. Worra, Dixon and Claude VonStroke.
Cassandra Jenkins started day three with a performance on the Sutro Stage, followed by Petey and Briston Maroney.
Rock duo Wet Leg took the Sutro stage after Briston Maroney for 50 minutes of pure rock and roll. The band, from England, said they were delighted to play at the festival.
Wet Leg started with the single “Wet Dream” and ended with the first single “Chaise Longue”. Leading the audience in a cathartic scream before the performance of the previously unreleased song “I Want To Be Abducted By A UFO”, Wet Leg’s performance was among the most memorable of the weekend.
Attendees had a variety of other things to experience on Sunday, including Grass Lands – a curated cannabis experience of over 21 people. Located south of the polo grounds, Grass Lands was a celebration of cannabis, including farmer’s market-style pop-ups and educational resources about cannabis and its effects on everyday life.
The Outsider Art exhibit presented by Monster Energy brought talented artists to the festival where they created live murals near the Twin Peaks and Panhandle stages. Attendees watched local San Francisco artists transform large blank canvases into beautiful works of art.
Muralist Ursula Young was one of the artists who created a mural over the weekend. With the help of his niece, Indra Whetton, Young freehanded a San Francisco-inspired piece on an 8-by-20-foot panel in seven hours.
“I wanted to create one of my quintessential San Francisco flower dancers,” Young said. “I wanted to capture the free spirit of the city that has always been so prevalent and has inspired my work over the years.”
It was Young’s first time painting at Outside Lands, although it had been a long-time dream.
“It gives me a special energy when painting live in front of a crowd,” Young said. “There’s a mutual inspiration that happens and I love meeting people who stop to chat and get excited about what I’m doing.”
Around 5 p.m., 100 Gecs took to the Twin Peaks stage for a short but sweet performance. Their set included an acoustic rendition of the song “gecgecgec”, a unique take on their typically electronic hyperpop style. The rest of their set included “stupid horse”, “ringer”, and “slot machine”, which had the audience laughing.
Mitski closed the evening, and simultaneously the festival itself, on the Sutro stage with an impressive performance. Although she spoke little to the crowd, her powerful voice and expressive movement blew the audience away, especially in her performances of “Working for the Knife” and “Washing Machine Heart.”