Outside Lands 2022 Wrap-Up: The Best Of The Fest

If you’ve been following along this weekend, you know how much we’ve been enjoying our time at Outside Lands. Like all great things, it had to come to an end, but that’s not going to stop us from giving you our final thoughts on this year’s iteration of the festival. Much like last year, I’ll be giving the top three artists we saw each day, attempting to rank performances from a multitude of genres and skill levels. This year was tough. But we must do it. For you. So read on!

Credit: Helana Michelle

Friday

3. Ashe

One of the hometown shows that will show up on this list. Ashe tore up Twin Peaks with her tremendous vocals, relatable lyrics, and enveloping stage presence. Right from the jump, it was apparent how much this particular set meant to her. She was bouncing all over the place, getting the crowd involved at every angle, and she even eventually gave the fans a chance to chant for her drummer, Tim, who is also from the Bay Area. Her rendition of Queen’s “Somebody To Love” was exceptional, but the biggest strength Ashe has is her own writing. Each song resonated with a majority of the crowd, and she never lost a step. As the sun bore down on Hellman Hollow, Ashe provided a fun reason to sweat, keeping the crowd moving and singing throughout her entire set. 

2. Dayglow

Playing to the largest crowd they’ve ever played to, Sloan Struble and company brought it to Twin Peaks after Ashe. There was never a dull moment in their set, and Sloan kept thanking the crowd for making it the biggest Dayglow show yet. It didn’t hurt that the performance was electrifying in every possible way. Now that the general populous has had time to digest “Then It All Goes Away,” it proved a pivotal moment in the set. Those who were somehow still on the fence got completely invested, and that gave way to the loudest crowd renditions of “Can I Call You Tonight?” and “Close To You” a few songs later. We have nothing but praise for Dayglow on this set. Admittedly, their Forecastle visual of “Dayglow is playing live music right now” was a bit funnier than the new album cover serving as a backdrop, but that is getting insanely nitpicky, Sloan’s voice sounded incredible, the band’s energy was palpable, and their performance was top notch for that largest crowd they’ve played to so far.

1. SZA 

Admittedly, I am a biased reporter here. I first saw SZA at the start of the first day of Lollapalooza 2015, and I haven’t seen her since. To open with “All The Stars” with dancers on a set made to look like a pier proved she’s come a long way from that minimalist 2015 performance. It also doesn’t hurt that Ctr has made its way back into my listening rotation in the past year, and every song on it is an absolute banger. Or bop. Or whichever term you want to use to convey the high quality of a track. Seeing those songs live for the first time put me in my feelings, and it’s very rare that a performance put me on the verge of crying. SZA did that, and I am eternally grateful. Bopping with the crowd to “Doves In The Wind” after singing our hearts out to “Broken Clocks” and “Love Galore” was something I will cherish for the rest of my life, and that’s the base reason of why she takes Friday’s number one spot. It’s also for her tenacity, coming out and giving this kind of a performance around 10 days after testing positive for COVID. Her voice was as strong as ever, and she was working the choreography with her dancers. An astounding headlining set from an artist who hasn’t performed consistently in quite some time.

Saturday

3. Parcels

To play for an hour straight is one thing. To work stage banter over grooves and engage the crowd verbally and musically without breaking that rhythm is another. Parcels kept the crowd invested for a full hour while only playing a grand total of about seven songs. The live versions of “Tieduprightnow,” “IknowhowIfeel,” and “Somethinggreater” were even better than their studio counterparts, and their rendition of The Magician’s remix of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” got the crowd singing along in their nu-disco trance. To call this a masterclass would be doing it a disservice. Parcels performance fits perfectly in the niche of “those who don’t stop playing but still involve stage banter,” which I think is a pretty small niche. Oh yeah, and their stage banter was all positivity, asking the crowd to show themselves some love, reminiscing on Australia by connecting the sights and smells of San Francisco to their homeland, and never letting anything get in the way of the good times. It was an exquisite hour at Sutro, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. Rina Sawayama

The only expectation we had going into this performance is that Rina would be incredible, and she still exceeded that expectation. From her perfectly synchronized choreography to her gorgeous vocal performance, from the instrumental prowess of her small band to the organization of the setlist, everything was perfection. One of the best shows of Rina Sawayama’s career, and Hold The Girl is only going to push her further into the pop stratosphere. There is nothing we could even nitpick about this performance. So why isn’t it number one?

Credit: Helana Michelle

1. Franc Moody/Green Day

Yes. A tie at number one. I know. That’s cheating. The problem is there’s no way to deny the power these two sets had over the festival. Franc Moody was a staple of the weekend, with a night show on Friday, their main set on Saturday, and a DJ set on Sunday, and their main set on Sutro was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. Even with some technical difficulties, the band performed seamlessly. As I said in my day two recap, if they hadn’t pointed out explicitly that something was wrong, there was no way to know. They were that calm and smooth about it, and that’s what separates the good from the great. Let me be clear, though. Even the virtuosity of Franc Moody couldn’t overtake the masterful performance from the Bay Area’s own golden boys in Green Day. They reached that same level, of course, hence the tie, but there was no way they could beat this Green Day set. They played the hits, yes, but there are so many of them that it’s just impossible to not sing along. A child of the American Idiot era got to see the kids of the 21st Century Breakdown era scream when the opening chords of “21 Guns” played, and though it made him feel old, he realized something that night: the kids are gonna be alright. Plus, Green Day played “Waiting” and “Minority,” my two favorite tracks from my favorite Green Day album, so… Yeah. Nothing was gonna top that. But Franc Moody hit equal footing, and that must be celebrated.

Sunday

3. Forester

Starting the day with a performance like Forester’s is completely unheard of (except maybe for SZA at Lollapalooza 2015). Xander and David were crushing it, and the crowd of early risers was dancing, running into people they knew, and just having an amazing time. The visuals were stunning. The instrumentals sounded exceptional. Xander’s voice carried through all of Hellman Hollow, and David acted as multi-instrumentalist and hype man. Their performance was the stuff of legend, and my pilgrimage to Amoeba Music the day after the festival ended was made even better by hearing people asking if Forester had any physical releases yet. These guys are going places, and Outside Lands should help springboard them.

2. Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot was historic. Political performance art doesn’t necessarily always land at a festival, but an Outside Lands crowd is going to give everyone a chance, and Pussy Riot took that chance and turned it into one of the greatest performances the Panhandle stage has ever seen. Commentary was made on political issues including the new abortion decision and the war in Ukraine, and they made sure to bring out special guests Salem Ilese and BOYFRIEND to perform songs surrounding these and other social issues. To see Pussy Riot gaining more notoriety for their art in addition to their activism is beautiful to see, and the Outside Lands crowd gave the best possible welcome to the band most known for their arrest records in their home country. An all-around exceptional, historic performance from Pussy Riot. Those who missed it should be kicking themselves right now,

Credit: Helana Michelle

1. Kim Petras

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for an over-the-top pop performance, and Kim Petras was that. More than that, though, her voice sounded amazing. Her runs were perfect, her belts were spot-on, and her stage presence was infectious. The whole crowd was dancing along to hits like “Heart To Break,” “Future Starts Now,” and, of course, “Coconuts.” Kim Petras was just having fun with it, and that joy and that playfulness were infectious. There was not a dull moment in the entire set. Kim Petras made sure of that. It’s always great to see pop stars get their due, and Kim Petras should be getting even more of that when her next album comes out.

Best of the Best

This was incredibly difficult, and I’m not even going to expand on my ranking in this section this time. I believe my earlier explanations speak for themselves.

3. SZA

2. Kim Petras

1. Franc Moody/Green Day

It was a beautiful weekend in Golden Gate Park, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year! Be on the lookout for our interviews with Dayglow, Salem Ilese, and Unusual Demont, as well as our food and wine review from the weekend. There just wasn’t enough space to fit everything into one recap, and you’ll see why if you check the food recap out as well. It’s sure to be a treat! (Wow, that was a really bad pun. I’ll see myself out now.)

Credit: Andrew Gardner

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