The twelfth year of San Francisco’s highly-anticipated outdoor music festival (AKA Outside Lands) not only set attendance records but also made history as the first U.S. music fest of its kind to allow onsite cannabis sales and consumption.
During the three-day, sold-out event, over 50 acts took to six stages spread across the idyllic greenery of Golden Gate Park. Fans breathed the same air as headlining hitmakers and rising stars, which offered an assortment of magical lyrics, cutting-edge sounds, pyrotechnics, sultry songstresses, international melodists, and nostalgic classics.
There was certainly plenty to see, taste, explore, and do at Outside Lands.
And if you’re one of those who missed out on scoring one of those coveted day-passes, here’s a brief glimpse at the party you wish you would have attended last week.
Seeing Green: Grass Lands Was a Groundbreaking Success
Outside Lands is the first festival of its kind and size where attendees were able to legally purchase, consume and smoke pot on festival grounds.
Outdoor picnic table enclosures served as designated sites for visitors of “Grass Lands.” Although you needed to undergo a separate ID check to gain entry, once you received the A-OK, those 21 and up had the opportunity to buy Mary Jane from respected brands in the industry that included the following products: concentrates, vaporizers, pre-rolled joints, edibles (like wild berry gummies), and of course, loose green.
Flow Kana sponsored a contest that encouraged guests to put their creativity to work as they carved bongs out of gourds.
To say the least, Grass Lands was an enlightening success—three days of partying led to the sale of seven figures-worth of cannabis.
This Year’s Food Lineup and GastroMagic Did Not Disappoint
The extensive selection of food, wine, beer, and cocktails came courtesy of more than 80 vendors supplying delectable eats such as pork belly burgers, frozen hot chocolate, tamales, crab rolls, brisket, Belgian waffles, ice cream tacos, and fried plantain.
A few standouts included Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts; tantalizing tropical drinks served at the new Polynesian Dave’s Tiki Bar at Polo Field; the 90-day aged grass-fed beef KronnerBurger; Monk’s Kettle vegan sausage; and Mozzeria’s wood-fired pizzas.
Another entertaining outlet for foodies was GastroMagic, where musicians, comics and other notable figures paired with chefs to present an amusing mash-up of talents.
Comedic drag queen Alyssa Edwards was a knockout favorite at the Barbary tent. He joined forces with “Top Chef” alum (and local food wizard) Melissa King for an orange margarita sip-session and Taiwanese popcorn chicken cooking demonstration.
Musical Recap for Day 1: Friday, August 9
Homegrown acts helped set the tone of Day 1, including Bay Area-based The Seshan, led by vocalist Lalin St. Juste, and East Bay rapper P-Lo who performed alongside the Oakland A’s mascot Stomper for a couple of songs.
Blink-182 minus longtime guitarist-singer Tom DeLonge hit the Lands End Stage with an assist from Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. Showcasing cuts from the band’s soon-to-be-released eighth album, the crowd listened to “Dammit,” “Adam’s Song,” “All the Small Things,” and “What’s My Age Again” with a bit of longing for the original trio’s chemistry (and energy).
Holding their own on the Twin Peaks stage, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz hinted at a possible break for the alternative rock band, as he delivered “Mr. Jones,” “Rain King,” “A Long December,” and “Round Here” with what could be described as “emotional energy.”
By day’s end, dense fog welcomed electronic act San Holo to the colorfully-lit Sutro stage, which may have also affected the numbers attending Twenty One Pilots’ closing out of the main stage. Offering waves of reggae, electro-pop, and rap, the band encouraged the crowd to join in on the hooks of songs like “Heathens” and “Stressed Out.”
Golden Gate Park’s Hellman Hollow belonged to folk-rock band The Lumineers, marking the largest venue the group has yet to play, according to vocalist Wesley Schultz. The touching set felt intimate, especially when the musicians mounted a mechanical riser to better connect with the audience during “Flowers in Your Hair,” “Ho, Hey,” and “Gloria.”
Despite relatively solid sets by household names like Blink-182, Twenty One Pilots, and The Lumineers, the start of the festival was not without a few underwhelming performances. Rapper Lil Wayne‘s voice and presentation seemed to miss the mark with crowd goers earlier in the day—obliviously tone-deaf and failing to deliver the expected energy for singles like “A Milli” and “Lollipop.” He missed the first half of set, leaving DJ T. Lewis to “hype up” the anxious crowd. The use of faux gunshot sounds also had an unnerving effect, to say the least.
Musical Recap for Day 2: Saturday, August 10
Saturday broke records (and hearts) on this chilly and seemingly coldest day of the festival. It also marked one of the last times fans will be able to set their sights on Donald Glover’s musical alter-ego, Childish Gambino—the second to last time, to be exact.
This announcement came alongside the artist’s personal, Bay Area-connected anecdotes, selfies with fans, and the proclamation that a reported 90,000 attendees made this Saturday the festival’s most massive crowd ever in all of its 12 years in existence.
The shirtless and white drawstring pants-wearing actor/comedian/writer/rapper electrified the crowd with “Summertime Magic,” “Feels Like Summer,” “Redbone,” “I. The Worst Guys,” “This is America,” and an unreleased track, “Algorythm.”
Earlier in the day…
Singer-songwriter Santigold, initially plagued by technical glitches, decided to spend the first minutes of her afternoon set sans stage audio. After a few raw moments, the dancehall-inspired native New Yorker then delivered an outstanding performance on the main stage. Her lineup of fan favorites included “L.E.S. Artistes,” “Disparate Youth,” “Creator,” and “Say Aha.”
Big Wild entertained electronic music fans on the Twin Peaks stage by 5:20 p.m. with “When I Get There,” “Afterglow,” and a well-received rendition of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.”
A fireball of confidence entered the scene at 6:10 p.m. Chicago-bred rapper CupcakKe was an X-rated, lyrically explicit explosion of energy at Hellman Hollow—launching into a larger-than-life performance on the smallest Outside Lands stage (the Panhandle) that was definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
Flume shined on the Lands End stage with his experimental electronic sounds at 6:25 p.m. He introduced new tracks such as “Let Your Know,” delivered familiar favorites like “Sleepless,” and entertained with a dirty remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Courts.”
Blame it on the misty chill of the night or poor sound quality, but Irish singer Hozier seemed a bit bogged down by a lack of energy. During his late evening performance, fans embraced tunes like “Someone New,” and “Almost (Sweet Music).” Fortunately, his much-anticipated “Take Me to Church” managed to leave the Sutro Stage crowd on an uplifting note.
Musical Recap for Day 3: Sunday, August 11
Sunday proved the sunniest (and mellowest vibe) out of all the days.
Three-day pass-holders tend to drag their feet on Sundays, making room for the typically older crowd of one-day pass-holders that come to see the “legacy” act traditionally slated to play on the night of the third day. This year, that act was the easygoing sounds of Paul Simon, who owned the Lands End stage for two hours and pleased the crowd with hits like “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,” “Graceland,” and the horn-accompanied fun of “You Can Call Me Al.”
Simon’s surprise of the night: bringing Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead on stage for a stirring cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Boxer.”
Rapper-singer Anderson .Paak (backed by the Free Nationals) played to a hyped-up crowd at the same time as Simon. His Lindley Meadow performance on the Sutro Stage drew in numbers with an hour-long set that included “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” and “Dang!,” his collaboration with the late rapper Mac Miller whose photo was projected onto a large screen during the song.
Earlier in the day, the Lands End stage welcomed 80-year-old soul legend Mavis Staples, who showed that she still had what it takes to move and motivate a crowd. She brought with her songs of change with a bit of political banter in between.
Crowd-surfing antics came courtesy of folk-hop group’s Judah & the Lion‘s frontman Judah Atkins, who dove into the crowd on more than one occasion. You couldn’t help but dance during the hour-long set at 2:50 p.m., which included their ultra-amusing signature stage presence and fan favorites like “Take It All Back.”
Kacey Musgraves, dressed in a skin-tight, rainbow-bedazzled black bodysuit, belted out heartfelt ballads such as “High Horse,” “Butterflies,” and “Love is A Wild Thing” with a shiny black guitar in hand. Her cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive” did not disappoint. Despite being assigned to one of the smaller stages at 4:10 p.m., Musgraves’ performance proved to be headliner-worthy material.
This year, the surprise guest for the Heineken tent act was Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean, who delivered a clean performance of hits such as “Gone ‘Til November,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Maria Maria”—where he impressed the crowd by playing the guitar behind his head and with his teeth—leaving them wanting more than just a 20-minute appearance.
Another standout for the day was Bebe Rexha, who oozed out explicit lyrics and sensual energy during her get-up-and-dance performances of “Me, Myself & I,” “Hey Mama,” and “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” at the Twin Peaks stage.
See You Next Year
Sounds like quite a party, huh? So much so that more than 300 festival-goers lost their IDs and managed to fill the event’s lost and found with hundreds of other sorely missed possessions, such as car keys, cell phones, and handbags.
If this year’s Outside Lands Festival slipped by you, don’t fret. The not-to-miss moments, creative eats, “high” times, and unforgettable acts will return to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California in 2020: August 7th – 9th.
Get your tickets early; this spectacular extravaganza is always a sold-out event.