The warm mornings that burn off into cool crisp nights returned to festival goers this year as Outside Lands made its return to a more regularly scheduled August timeline.
It was only 10 months ago that the special Halloween version which took place on the spookiest weekend of the year brought out the costumes and permanently chilly weather.
This year however it seemed like the warmest weekend to date for the Golden Gate Park festival, with many a sunburn seen. Regardless, with enough hydration and time spent in the plentiful shade of the sweeping Monterey Cypress trees, this year’s festival was a nice return to what is expected out of an Outside Lands festival, with the beautiful natural sights, amazing food and drink options, laid back attitude, and of course the diverse range of sounds.
The headliners were as follows:
Green Day, Post Malone, SZA, Jack Harlow, Weezer and Phoebe Bridgers. A good mix of the most popular acts around currently mixed in with the 90’s mainstays that continue to entertain on stages across the world.
My highlights included Green Day, Post Malone, along with some smaller acts that helped round out the eclectic sounds you get from a weekend at Golden Gate Park.
Green Day was incredible, might even say the set of the weekend. Of course it helps when you are one of the most popular rock bands from the last few decades, and are playing in your Bay Area home to thousands of people that can simultaneously belt out your lyrics, but I give the band the most credit for finely tuning a performance that had no dead air time, not one moment where they didn’t captivate the audience at the Lands End stage.
Empress Of is one of those artists I came upon because the timing was right during the day, and was able to catch her wonderful, energetic set in the Sutro Stage located within Lindley Meadow. Her music can best be described as a mix of synth pop, electronica, R&B; and if you took these sounds and mixed them with the music video for “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance.
Lorely Rodriguez is the Honduran-American singer, songwriter, and producer behind the sounds and lyrics of Empress Of, which kept the crowd at Sutro Stage active and interested, going from up-tempo love songs to crooning lo fi ballads, her take on pop music is wonderful and fused with retro vibes and the more recent power pop high energy. Surely a highlight for many and definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Another memorable show was Thuy, a Vietnamese-American Bay Area native who played much appreciated smooth modern R&B tracks on the Panhandle stage on Saturday. With a commanding, ethereal voice, Thuy blends modern R&B and pop sensibilities with an edge and is unmistakably rooted in her musical heroes growing up: the Britney’s, the Aguilera’s etc.
In a bridging of Bay Area music solidarity, Thuy brought out special guest P-Lo, one of the modern mainstays of hyphy music, to rap his famous 2017 hit “Put Me On Something” to the roar of Thuy’s audience.
Even without the energetic rap break, Thuy’s performance was well worth catching, and a definite recommendation to stream when you’d like to hear the new wave of Bay Area R&B.
The food is one of the main highlights at Outside Lands every year, and this year was no different in terms of options and deliciousness.
From a plethora of wonderful noodle options to the Mexican/Central American fare, the booths alongside the edges of Lands End and on the walk to Twin Peaks stages were busy and filled with great food.
My top pick was Mamahuhu, a responsibly sourced Chinese-American restaurant in San Francisco who brought to Outside Lands Tomato Garlic Chow Mein, an extremely popular Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and my personal favorite, a crispy and delicious Sweet and Sour Chicken plate which left me wanting more. So yes, I will be heading to Mamahuhu’s next time I’m near Clement street.
Outside Lands came a mere 10 months after its special October iteration, and it felt like a treat getting another one in less than a year, but after every weekend I am left happy, tired, full, and hopeful with the promise of next August’s group of artists and food options. So here we are again, post-OSL, just thinking of what next year’s lineup and opportunities for fun at Golden Gate Park.
Outside Lands 2023 will take place August 11-13, 2023. More info at sfoutsidelands.com.