Outside Lands 2019: Weed, Wellness, and Music in the Park

Festival dives into selling cannabis products amongst chilly air and tunes spanning a diverse spectrum of music
Grass Lands was busy with those curious and willing to partake in the newly available marijuana marketplace. Photo Credit: Arturo Hilario

Arturo Hilario
El Observador


Outside Lands manages to combine a music festival, along with a full blown array of eats and drinks, mini golfing and now a recreational Marijuana shop all within the confines of the Golden Gate Park Polo Field in San Francisco. 

This year was the addition of the marijuana marketplace known as Grass Lands which was a frantic last minute addition, it all hinged on San Francisco lawmakers approving a law which would allow a festival to sell cannabis just days before it was set to commence. As it happened the resolution was approved, and allowed San Francisco to be one of the first festivals in the US to sell the products on the premises. 

From August 9-11 the sounds coming from the edges of Golden Gate Park were of Childish Gambino, the alias of auteur Donald Glover in his final few shows using the artist name of Childish Gambino, as well as legendary and master of career longevity Paul Simon, who would take the stage Sunday night.

In 2018 Grass Lands, minus the actual marketplace, was a promise of what could be, set away from the hustle of the main festival area and full of places to sit and relax while dispensaries and various cannabis vendors served as a sort of physical showroom of their products. With the ability to now sell, Grass Lands was bustling with the curious and those participating in the vending and 

Friday saw the happenings of another glorious weekend amongst the sunny days and blanket of Pacific Ocean chill. Among the busiest in attendance and most kinetic sets were Twenty One Pilots energetic performance and Blink 182’s 90’s punk nostalgia fest. Smaller but just as audibly potent included indie pop band The Marias, led by Puerto Rican lead singer María Zardoya crooning in both English and Spanish, and Bay Area blues band The California Honeydrops, who started off jam sessions in an Oakland BART station. 

Saturday saw a much more youth-oriented main lineup with electronic musical acts Flume and RL Grime taking main stages, while Hozier’s soul folk had a much more ethereal effect on the audience.

At the Barbary tent, hilarity insured with comedians Mike Birbiglia, Aparna Nancherla, Rhea Butcher taking a set inside the tent, while “Ear Hustle: A Conversation w/ Nigel Poor & Earlonne Woods” proved interesting conversations and brought podcasts to real life with moderator Glynn Washington of  Snap Judgment fame. 

For me, the highlight of the evening was the final San Francisco performance of the artist known as Childish Gambino, but hopefully not the last we see of the man behind the pseudonym, musician, writer, producer and actor extraordinaire Donald Glover. At the end of his much touted tour he says he will retire the Childish Gambino moniker, which he originally came up with on a whim when he went to a website where a name generator would give one their “Wu-Tang Clan Name”.

Coming out in a grizzled salt and pepper beard, wearing only white trousers and white loafers, Gambino descended from a hydraulic platform down to the stage, to the minimalistic white lights and smoke as thousands of fans screamed in anticipation. 

Gambino put out all the energy of the reported “biggest Outside Lands crowd ever”, diving into old favorites like “Sweatpants” and “Redbone”, and his most recent and most political tune, “This is America”.  

And to cap off Sunday’s Outside Lands finale, there were acts like the frenzied rap of Denzel Curry, which mixes the genre with the stage presence of Rage Against the Machine, as well as the hypnotic California funkiness of Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals. 

Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges and the legendary Paul Simon rounded out the weekend, which was sure to rid the festival of any ‘Sunday scaries’. It was certainly a poignant walk out of the festival listening to Simon’s “ Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”.

Outside Lands 2020 will be back in August of next year.

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