Outside Lands: It Isn't Only About The Music
    • SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2016

    • Posted by: Mandi Dudek

    Another year of Outside Lands has come and gone and the post-OSL depression has officially set in. Over the years, Outside Lands has proved to be one of the most unique summer festivals out there. Not only because it's the only summer festival where you'll see festival attendees wearing beanies while wrapped in blankets, but because it completely embodies the Bay Area. First of all, OSL-goers are probably the friendliest and most laid-back crowd you'll come across. With over 200,000 attendees this year, everyone seemed to look out for each other and remembered their manners.

    But Outside Lands really sets itself from the rest by the overwhelming amount of food, games, drinks, and shows. You could spend an entire weekend at OSL without actually seeing any of the sets on the line-up (but don't do that, Im just saying you could). There was a Barbary Comedy & Improv tent, at least 25 Northern California breweries and over 120 wines, Outsider Art provided by Jeben Berg and SF's very own Juxtapoz Magazine, an SF-themed mini-golf course (and an arcade!), and tucked within the forest was GastroMagic and ChocoLands, where you could indulge on sweets like beignets and s'mores. There was even a surprise performance outside the SoundStage from the Bay Areas own rap ambassador, E-40 alongside Warren G (!!!).

    All of the extra goodies aside, lets talk about the music. The first day brought us some highlights like Marian Hill, a Philly-based duo who infuse electronic beats, smooth jazz and vocalist Samantha Gongol's sultry vocals. They focused on their new album Act One and played favorites like "Talk to Me" and "Down" and threw in some older tracks like "One Time" and "Whisky." Ra Ra Riot and St. Lucia played back to back on the main stage, both bringing high energy levels and dance hit-tracks.

    Marian Hill

    Ra Ra Riot

    Ra Ra Riot

    J.Cole and LCD Soundsystem closed out Day One of Outside Lands in the most hyped-up, energetic fashion. No matter who you caught, you danced your way out of Golden Gate Park ready to come back for day two. Since I saw LCD at Panorama, I caught all of J.Cole and his performance proved he earned the hype he has received over the past few years. Of course, he played older hits like "Work Out" and "She Knows" but most of the focus was on his 2014 album, Forest Hills Drive. He played "Wet Dreamz," "A Tale of 2 Citiez," "Apparently," and "No Role Modelz," all of which got the crowd going insane. He's the man. Why? Because... J.Cole went double platinum with no features. Are we sick of that meme yet?

    J Cole

    J Cole

    Day Two started out with "ass and beignets," as Big Freedia says. New Orleans-based Big Freedia The Queen Diva teamed up with Brenda's Soul Food to throw a "Beignets and Bounce Brunch" at the GastroMagic stage for the second time. I was able to catch Big Freedia and her twerkin' team last year as well and seeing beignets and confectioner's sugar getting launched into the crowd in the middle of the forest never gets old. That pretty much set the vibe for the entire day.

    The Knocks, which is a duo made up of B-Roc and Mr. JPatt, threw a dance party to kick off Day Two. Their set included hits like, "Dancin' With The DJ," "We Got U," "I Wish (My Taylor Swift)," and "Classic" and it was a good warm-up for the crowd on the coldest day of the weekend. The dancing continued over at the main stage with British electronic trio, Years & Years, as frontman Olly Alexander and the band brought celestial synth-pop goodness to each track.

    The Knocks

    Years and Years

    Canadian electronic artist, Merrill Beth Nisker, better known as Peaches put on the "WTF" performance of the day (and I mean that in the best way possible). She came on the stage wearing a sheer, nude-colored jumpsuit with sequins cartoony-like hands covering it. She's a woman who completely disregards gender norms while putting on a completely sexually explicit show that leaves you saying, "WTF did I just see."


    Radiohead closed out the night, being only the second band to headline Outside Lands more than once (they were the first headliner back in 2008). As you would expect, Thom Yorke and the band didn't miss a beat. "Lotus Flower" and "The Gloaming" were two notable dance numbers. "Paranoid Android" was one of those moments where the crowd just stood still, hypnotized by what was in front of them. Radiohead brought everyone together to sing "Karma Police" to finish their set and everyone left Golden Gate Park a little speechless.


    As we all dragged our feet into Day Three, the sun peaked out behind the clouds and gave everyone the pep in their step they needed to make it to the finish line. And since everyone was overdressed, expecting it to be a day of thick clouds and brisk winds, it actually turned out to be a day where I overheard, "It's so hot" a few times. As I ran up to the main stage, Oh Wonder was charming the crowd with their track, "Body Gold." But I don't think there is a song on Oh Wonder's debut self-titled album that isn't charming, charismatic and goddamn phenomenal.

    Oh Wonder

    Third Eye Blind struck the nostalgia cord at Outside Lands this year and I accidentally/appropriately dressed in something I probably would have worn in 1999. They - obviously - played hits such as "Jumper," "Never Let You Go" and "How's It Going To Be" but then threw in a pretty incredible tribute to David Bowie. As if I wasn't melting inside enough, they finished their set with "Semi-Charmed Life" and the middle school girl inside me was squealing.

    Third Eye Blind

    Chance The Rapper brought his usual high energy to his set and had some of the most colorful visuals of the weekend. Miguel was one of a huge highlight of the whole weekend. Miguel's dance moves mixed with his suede boots and colorful outfit with red bug-eyed sunglasses and infectious smile made it impossible to take your eyes on the Twin Peaks stage. "Hollywood Dreams," "Coffee" and "Waves" were a few highlights of his set. Who doesn't love Miguel?!

    Chance The Rapper


    Lionel Richie proved that he's still not done gracing us with his heavenly voice. He played an extended version of "Easy Like Sunday Morning" with a jazz break towards the end. His happy energy was infectious throughout the set and he'd tease his most memorable track by saying things like "Are you ready to dance all night long?" And as he weaved through years of Lionel Richie classics, he closed with "All Night Long," and people were coming to the main stage from every angle to dance with the crowd. I couldn't have imagined a better way to bring Outside Lands to a close.

    But as your power walking (slightly jogging) from set-to-set because of the borderline set time clashes, you find yourself in the middle of a forest as you pass someone indulging in a donut cheeseburger while a friend beside her has a chocolate "S'mores" Popsicle. When you walk past the Panhandle stage, you see a psychedelic, Alice in Wonderland-like, live story-time with spectators who are wearing onesie animal pajamas. Outside Lands follows the magical mystery of the city that hosts such a glorious festival. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who's counting down the days till next year's rendezvous.

    OSL Portraits

    OSL Portraits

    OSL Portraits

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