With a decade under its belt, Outside Lands 2018 knew what it was doing. Repeating multiple artists from its first lineup — such as Beck, Broken Social Scene and Bon Iver — while also finally managing to have female headliners, the festival neatly divided its crowd between the Twin Peaks and Lands End stages each night.
In characteristic San Francisco fashion, each day experienced its own unique weather, too. Friday was so cold that The Weeknd could hardly feel his face, while Saturday left fans with sunburns that rivaled the red of Florence + the Machine’s iconic hair. Sunday’s fog meant the stage lights of sets early in the day were almost as brilliant as those that would illuminate Janet Jackson’s performance that night.
But if the six biggest acts resembled the weather — inconsistent and not always pleasing — the talent that came before them was often stellar. While many attendees came late, the early sets of local artists such as Caleborate and Shannon and the Clams were well worth the hefty ticket price.
And although the age gaps between attendees remained as awkward as ever — couples in their late 40s drunkenly danced to indie rock as 14-year-olds Snapchatted and snickered — Outside Lands continued to push outside the box.
— Caroline Smith, Olivia Jerram and Ketki Samel
Friday, August 10
The Weeknd provides well-received (though uninspired) opening to Outside Lands weekend
“This is going to be the best concert of our lives,” yelled a drunken teenage girl to her friends in the minutes before The Weeknd — Friday’s headlining artist — was scheduled to go on. Even though The Weeknd’s music was well-received by the Friday night crowd, his concert wasn’t particularly inventive or original, which was especially disappointing given…Read More.
Beck fights indie rock’s diminishing presence at Outside Lands
Friday night’s headlining slot set an R&B sex symbol who frequently ranks among the world’s most popular artists against a man best known for robbing Beyoncé of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It was a bold move on Outside Lands’ part, to say the least, especially since Beck stood this year as one of the last remaining fixtures of the white male…Read More.
Carly Rae Jepsen provides ultimate #CutToTheFeelingFriday in Outside Lands performance
While Carly Rae Jepsen may have been without her sword for her Friday afternoon Outside Lands performance, nothing stopped her from slaying. With her set only scheduled for 50 minutes, Jepsen wasted no time in sauntering to the stage in wild white fringe pants, dancing and twirling as she sang the effervescent “Run Away With Me”…Read More.
Caleborate proves he’s ready for the big leagues at Outside Lands
In the past couple of years, Berkeley rapper Caleborate has had quite the rise. He’s quickly gone from being a virtually unknown YouTube rapper who opened shows on UC Berkeley’s Lower Sproul Plaza to touring Europe and holding his own early-evening spot in Outside Lands’ Friday lineup. Seeing him onstage as he bounced around in his signature…Read More.
Perfume Genius emerges with a feral theatricality at Outside Lands
If there had to be one work to describe Perfume Genius, the stage name of Mike Hadreas, it might be “feral.” “Raw” is another close contender, but it seems too limiting, too focused on his work as a musician and a lyricist and not broad enough to encompass his movements or his presence onstage…Read More.
Shannon and the Clams transports intimate crowd to 1950s diner
Oakland’s own Shannon and the Clams inaugurated the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands on Friday. Though the crowd size was only a hundred or so deep, as anyone would expect for noon on day one, the group performed with as much spirit and passion as a headliner, jampacking its 40-minute set with tracks that best exemplified the group’s February release…Read More.
Saturday, August 11
Florence + the Machine soars ‘High As Hope’ above expectations at Outside Lands
On a mild San Francisco Saturday evening, as day plodded toward night, an apparition captured the collective heart of a crowd of more than 25,000. Clad in no more than a thin, white nightgown, the ethereal being flowed across the stage, her pale bare feet seeming to never really touch solid ground. Before anyone could fully process the shining specter…Read More.
Future’s set at Outside Lands wasn’t good, but maybe that doesn’t matter
By now, it’s no secret that a statistically significant portion of the world’s biggest rappers have no idea whatsoever of how to put on a good live show. The thrill of paying a visit to one of their shows stems more from being in the presence of someone so ubiquitous than it does from any aspect of their performance or stage presence. At his Saturday night set…Read More.
Jamie xx’s set stands out among electronic acts at Outside Lands
This year’s Outside Lands lineup ran heavy with electronic acts. From Elohim to Whethan, there was no shortage of opportunities to rage to some bass-heavy bangers wrapped up in sugary sweet female vocals. If there was one DJ set to catch this weekend…Read More.
What happens when Bon Iver doesn’t play ‘Skinny Love’ at Outside Lands? Chaos (and a decent set)
Bon Iver’s music is best listened to when sitting alone in a dark corner. It possesses an intimate, private quality best described by the lyrics of Bon Iver’s songs themselves, which all convey emotional depth and gravitas…Read More.
SOB x RBE has a way to go before it is truly festival-ready
By now, it feels a bit redundant to comment on yet another Bay Area crowd failing to get hyphy or to show even the smallest inkling of recognition when hearing Mac Dre’s legendary hit “Feelin’ Myself.” Nonetheless, it remains astonishing to see that, especially when it happens right before a set by the Vallejo-based rappers of SOB x RBE at one of the Bay’s biggest music festivals…Read More.
Daniel Caesar provides the soulful dressing on top of angelic Outside Lands performance
Wristbanded hands pushed and shoved to get to the front of Daniel Caesar’s performance, but if Caesar knew how many die-hard fans he had in his audience, he didn’t let on…Read More.
Freya Ridings performs predictable yet alluring set at Outside Lands
Though clad in a glimmering, multicolored sequined jacket, Freya Ridings’ set Saturday afternoon was anything but flashy. The 23-year-old North London-based singer performed her set alone, with no bright graphics flashing on the screen behind her. Instead, Ridings relied solely upon her own raw talent — her awe-inspiring voice and the keyboard piano at her…Read More.
Getting real: Jessie Reyez takes audience on a ‘first date’ at Outside Lands
As Jessie Reyez announced to the crowd gathered around the Twin Peaks stage on Saturday, she likes to treat her concerts like first dates. If this is true, then the 27-year-old singer-songwriter is not afraid to reveal her most intimate beliefs to a virtual stranger — or, in the case of her performance on Saturday, to hundreds of virtual strangers…Read More.
Sunday, August 12
Janet Jackson reigns as Outside Lands’ No. 1 diva
Fifteen minutes into her Sunday night headlining set, Janet Jackson froze, glittering under the spotlight. A vast crew of backup dancers clad in black and white framed her. Jackson’s face turned to the side as her crimped ponytail blew in the wind. She basked in the admiration of the crowd, taking in the respect that she had earned over the course of…Read More.
At Outside Lands, James Blake proves he doesn’t need a spotlight to shine
You may not recognize the name James Blake, but you’ve heard the electronic/R&B musician’s material. The 29-year-old English singer-songwriter-producer has collaborated with a plethora of prominent performers, including Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and Chance The Rapper, to name just a few. In 2013, Kanye West even called Blake…Read More.
Portugal. The Man is beyond ‘Feel It Still,’ feels it still at Outside Lands
“They ain’t no pop band?” asked a man in his late 60s as he stood in the front row, watching Portugal. The Man’s Sunday Outside Lands set. No one could blame him for his surprise — those who have only ever heard the formerly catchy “Feel It Still” (And who hasn’t? The song was used in commercials for the iPad Pro, Vitaminwater, YouTube TV and even…Read More.
Tash Sultana pushes boundaries of 1-person show at Outside Lands
In surveying the crowd gathered at Outside Lands’ Sutro stage in anticipation for Tash Sultana, it was clear that the Australia-based reggae/psychedelic rock star doesn’t just have casual fans. As demonstrated by the Sultana paraphernalia on view, they have a devoted following. Two young women in the front row even showed off their matching Sultana-inspired…Read More.
The Internet won’t let technical difficulties stop it from showing the crowd a good time
The bad news? By the time The Internet took the stage at Outside Lands on Sunday, more than half of its allotted set time had been eaten up by some serious technical difficulties…Read More.
LP goes back in time in all-out Outside Lands performance
When Laura Pergolizzi, known by fans as LP, stepped onstage, she seemed to come from a different era. Sporting brown suede pants and jacket, a black embroidered top, mirrored sunglasses and a single cross earring, the 37-year-old looked as if she had just stepped out of the 1960s or ‘70s — it was hard to pinpoint…Read More.
Janelle Monáe celebrates Black Girl Magic, fights food poisoning at Outside Lands
Janelle Monáe arrived 12 minutes late to her Outside Lands set on Sunday — not that her fans seemed to mind, however. Once Monáe arrived on stage, the Electric Lady brought her charisma and energy at full throttle. Her shortened set was jampacked with hits off her latest visionary, acclaimed album and a handful of classic Cindi Mayweather hits…Read More.
Kelela enchants at Outside Lands
Kelela is the textbook example of critically acclaimed but commercially unfulfilled. Case in point: the crowd that she drew to her on Sunday. While it was certainly one of the more intimate crowds of the festival — and perhaps it was her 2 p.m. time slot that was to blame — everyone in attendance appeared to be a fan through and through, never standing in…Read More.
Kailee Morgue hesitates, eventually finds her groove at Outside Lands
As Kailee Morgue stepped onto the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands, the 20-year-old pop singer looked nervous. Clad in a white crop top and transparent red pants, Morgue smiled hesitantly at the hundreds gathered before her before diving into her opening track, “Do You Feel This Way.” Despite the catchy, upbeat mood of the piece, Morgue appeared…Read More.