Outside Lands put music, food, art and cannabis in the spotlight and paired it with the natural beauty of Golden Gate Park at this year’s edition!
Outer lands found his usual dates in his beautiful home of Golden Gate Park this year, and it was one for books. Having attended the festival once before, in 2016, I was long overdue for a trip to the Bay Area and delighted to see how the festival has grown over the past six years. The trip from San Diego to San Francisco went well, and after settling into my accommodation, I was excited to send it off for day one!
There’s so much to love about Outside Lands, but this year it was all about the musical performances, art, food, and natural beauty of the park. When I needed to rest and refuel, there was more than enough shade and delicious food to keep me energized through the long nights. And as I strolled through the venue, I couldn’t help but be wowed by the towering, carefully manicured trees, lush green grass, and all the vibrant art that has been crucial in bringing the Golden to life. Gate Park.
Countless sets impressed me throughout the weekend, from the headliners to the undercard ones.
The first set of the weekend that I saw was Cory Henry at lands end Friday. Lands End is a wonderfully designed stage with its basic top deck, rotating backdrop and staging. As soon as I walked in, I couldn’t help but be interested in what they were playing. An eclectic mix of funk, soul and jazz Cory Henry had the crowd buzzing with all the energy he exuded on stage. Not to mention that the band members are all stellar musicians who played a very polished and professional set.
Another early set worth mentioning is Loot Planet, who contested the top spot at Lands End on Sunday. In the same vein as Cory Henry – if the music is that good, you literally start being drawn to it. When this happens, you have to rely on this intuition. Combining live instrumentation with funky melodies and dancefloor-inspired beats, Planet Booty has a distinct sound that resonates with a lot of people. The crowd gave back their energy from the first beat to the last, and by the end of the set the crowd had at least doubled in size.
As for my favorite performances of the weekend, I found myself experiencing them all on the Sutro Stage.
Hands down, my favorite set of the weekend was Frank Moody at sutro Saturday. The British electro-funk band never ceases to amaze me and leave me even more excited every time I see them. Over the past few years, Frank Moody has released a plethora of funky, dance-infused tracks like “I’m In A Funk”, “Mass Appeal”, “Big Cheese” and, most recently, “Raining In LA”. All this they skillfully incorporated into their set among classics like “Dopamine” and “In Too Deep” as well as remixes like their version of “Alergía” by Elia and Elizabeth. When you see a band having so much fun on stage playing undeniably groovy tunes, there’s nothing to do but dance and have fun.
My second favorite was Package, who played just after Frank Moody on Saturday. It was the three hour block that I expected to be the most fun of the weekend, and it absolutely was. Parcels are a five-piece Australian electropop band who burst onto the scene with their soulful tracks ‘Tieduprightnow’, ‘Lightenup’ and ‘Gamesofluck’. Their productions translated even better to live as each band member was versatile, singing harmonies and playing an instrument. Being able to live these two sets back to back was a scenario that I had not seen coming and which made Saturday a special day.
Other memorable sets at Sutro were purple disco machine, Disclosure, Polo and panand Faded. Once the weekend was over, I concluded that Sutro was my favorite stop. It was handled well with no apparent sound issues. Finding a solid spot in the crowd where vibes, sound, and a view of the artist met in perfect harmony was surprisingly easy, especially if you were hanging out for multiple sets. Although I liked seeing artists that excited me, I also discovered a lot of new music.
One of my favorite new musical finds was Los Angeles-based indie-electronic duo Forester, who played two sets on Sunday.
I just discovered Forest, I can say with confidence that this duo is onto something special. They took the stage for their first Outside Lands on Sunday at Twin Peaks and played a live set with Xander on keyboards and vocals and David on guitar, percussion and DAW. Although Forester played the first set of the day, their dedicated fans showed up early and brought a fun and palpable energy. The sound was turned up high, the visuals were stunning, and the audience felt like they were experiencing a closing set on the main stage. Forester may be at the start of their career, but their combination of live instrumentation and cutting-edge production has all the signs pointing up.
Afterwards, the two took to the stage at the Toyota Music Den for a DJ set. Catching this set right after playing a live was an interesting contrast as it showed their ability to create different kinds of experiences. The live set was strictly their music, all instrumentation, vocals and visuals live, and on a huge stage. The DJ set was more intimate and allowed them to play outside of their musical catalog and some of their own. Every performance was full of energy and full of good vibes, and I certainly won’t miss a Forester set in the future.
When I wasn’t watching music, I could be found in Grass Lands, at food vendors, or wandering around checking out art and installations.
Outside Lands is one of the festivals in California that is beginning to incorporate cannabis into the event experience. Not just recreationally, but also educationally and informatively. There were cannabis vendors, consumer areas and local organizations educating people about the legislation surrounding cannabis and letting attendees know what they can do to support the cannabis movement.
There was a whole range of topics of discussion like wrongful arrests, medical use or the fact that cannabis is still a schedule 1 substance at the federal level. But the most crucial thing Grass Lands has done is to raise awareness about cannabis as a whole and hopefully this will lead to a more de-stigmatized mindset towards cannabis use.
The second best thing about Grass Lands is that the food vendors and art instantly became more radical man.
I supported a few food vendors throughout the weekend, from pizza and coffee to nachos and bao. My favorite was the pork buns from The presidents. It was a relatively large portion for a festival and expensive, but well worth it. It was about the size of a regular burger, but the flavor of the pork belly mixed with cucumber shavings, soft bun and aioli made me forget the hole that was forming in my wallet.
As I walked around the festival, I noticed some familiar artwork and lots of new ones. I always seem to find Greg Mike’s funny and dynamic little characters, who always make me smile. Greg Mike was also spray painting live in the meadow, and it was really cool to see him working. I also found new pieces that immediately caught my attention. Even Flores painted a piece that showed a gorilla spinning on a record player with colorful animals coming out of the sound cone. I also saw a wonderful, bright, colorful and scary wizard painted by Skinner.
Music, food and art guided my experience, but the natural beauty of the place was a common factor that elevated all of these aspects.
Being able to experience world-class music, cuisine and art in an environment like Golden Gate Park is truly an adventure in itself. Coastal breezes keep temperatures comfortable during the day and you can bundle up in a jacket or blanket at night. Tree canopies cast large pockets of shade throughout the park. The sun was falling behind them at sunset and huge beams of light were shining through the leaves. I remember a particular moment Sunday in Sutro when Mt. Joy was playing “Fire On The Mountain” at sunset, and the light beamed through the empty spaces of the trees. It was so magical, with everything perfectly placed in its role.
It should also be mentioned that the park would not have stayed as clean as it has without the volunteers from Outside Lands. The green team, or whatever they are aptly called, scrambled all day to keep the grounds clean. It increased the overall vibe by not seeing or stepping on trash everywhere. All the volunteers I interacted with were in a good mood and delighted to play a vital role in the preservation of the site.
Overall I had a wonderful time at Outside Lands and plan to return in the future.
It was a fun and successful weekend for my first time at Outside Lands in six years. I saw amazing sets, discovered new music, ate lots of great food, met new friends, hung out with old ones, and was inspired by all the art. I have to admit, the most significant change I saw was in the audience. It was a noticeably younger crowd, which has a lot to do with reservations.
Last year’s lineups brought in bands like Radiohead, Metallica, The Who and Gorillaz, while 2022’s lineup booked artists like Post Malone (which was amazing), Lil Uzi Vertand Jack Harlow. It was nice to see the younger generation finding music festivals, but it didn’t come without fratty moments.
Outside Lands is a wonderful place to see music, eat delicious food and enjoy a beautiful natural site. If you are trying to have a relaxing festival where you can sit, eat, drink and not feel conflicted with fixed times, I highly recommend visiting this festival. Even though the queues continue to diverge from the old days, there’s more than enough new music, food, art, and cannabis to make it worth attending.
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