For its 11th year inside Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival made room for a nice share of Sacramento-based talent throughout the weekend. While Janet Jackson, Florence+The Machine and The Weeknd respectively headlined each day of the festival’s music portion, new additions such as Grass Lands, a stronger showcase of comedy, art and gastronomy spoke to the growing crowds of more than 200,000 people.
Outside Lands has always aimed to be an experience that goes beyond a concert and this year’s showcase proved that even after ten years, producers Another Planet Entertainment, Superfly Presents and Starr Hill Presents are still in tune to providing a memorable experience with familiar lands and a forward-thinking community.
The introduction of Grass Lands, an age restricted “town square” celebrating and educating the integration of cannabis products, had various sample items available without any cannabis-infused products on-site, which made a bittersweet addition for some guests. Moreover, inside the long-acclaimed Barbary tent came a new series called D.A.V.E. (Discussions About Virtually Everything) with special guests including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mickey Hart, Gavin Newsom and a Global Climate Action Summit, which aimed to “expand your mind.”
In addition, new features throughout the park, including a scavenger hunt, a bubble tea party inspired by Alice in Wonderland and being able to order food from the official app in order to shorten wait times were all welcomed with easy praise.
At the end of the day, the music will always be the greatest part of the festival and beginning with Friday’s performances, acts such as Lauv, Billie Ellish and N.E.R.D made sure things got off to the right start.
Toward the middle of the afternoon, Sacramento-born Caleborate made his Outside Lands debut on the Panhandle stage with an undeniable presence of energy. Sporting his classic orange beanie, the Sacramento-Berkeley rapper performed cuts from his latest project, “Real Person,” which rings vibrant with Bay Area influence suited perfectly for an evening inside Golden Gate Park.
As night fell, The Weeknd would interject his star power into the festival with a non-stop performance of hits carried by his powerful voice and minimal, but well-suited, display of lights and pyrotechnics. With his beautiful muse Bella Hadid in attendance, it seemed his performance came from a special harmony within him–while still finding the ability to deliver his somber catalog of favorite songs, both old and new.
Saturday may have been the most populated day of the festival with artists such as Jessie Reyez, Cuco, Chvrches and SOBxRBE allowing everyone a chance to get their dose of liking. While GoldLink canceled his performance due to travel issues, Future and Florence+The Machine split crowds for the final performances of the evening where both sent waves of fans home with a thrilling draw of show power.
Following a solid weekend of shows, Sunday would bring the Outside Lands debut of some of Sacramento’s greatest rising stars in comedian JR De Guzman and Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers.
Since being added to the lineup alongside Janelle Monáe, Billie Eilish and Saba in May, it felt as if this would be Hobo’s biggest performance to date. Joined by the Lovemakers on the Sutro stage, Hobo would give the people exactly what they wanted as he frolicked across the stage barefoot and jumped off the stage to get up close and personal with the crowd. In return, fans would sing along to every lyric with as much derelict enthusiasm as he seems to put in every show.
While Janelle Monáe would go on to have one of the most stellar performances of the weekend, with an outfit change for every song to top it off, we had to step away from the music to check out The Barbary stage where comedian JR De Guzman would participate in the Speechless: improvised slideshow presentations.
De Guzman has been making a name for himself internationally since winning the 13th Annual “Standup NBC 2017” competition and is sure to continue with a 15-minute special on Netflix’s “The Comedy Lineup,” premiering on Aug. 31.
On Sunday evening, De Guzman took part in the Speechless improv competition, which also featured comedians Rhys Darby, Naomi Ekperigin and Jon Gabrus, with Veronica Belmont and Mythbuster’s Adam Savage on hand as special judges. For an improv competition that comes with its own challenges, De Guzman made sure to give himself a handicap by using his acoustic guitar to interpolate songs into his act, coming up with tunes on the spot and even getting the crowd to join in on the hilarious choruses. While Ekperigin won the competition, De Guzman got a well-deserved standing ovation and a nice handful of new fans.
Soon after, the funk would come alive inside Golden Gate Park as Chromeo killed their set with one of Twin Peak’s largest crowds of the weekend. As legends would have it, this year’s surprise guest performance at The House by Heinekein was none other than Salt-N-Pepa who had a most rambunctious crowd dancing to the classics.
For some, the weekend would end with DJ Snake, while others would head to the Lands End stage for the legendary Janet Jackson. Either way, Outside Lands was able to put on a great weekend of performances and overall an experience that looks to keep pushing for another decade.
For more information on Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, visit SFOutsidelands.com
Photos courtesy of Outside Lands by FilmMagic.com.