Outside Lands is back, and day one was filled with amazing performances on all stages! Spanning all genres and mediums – the food art referenced in the title will be discussed shortly – the first day back in Golden Gate Park after an 810 hiatus was full of heavy hitters like The Strokes; Tyler, the Creator; and Glass Animals. Tough decisions were made regarding schedules, and while we couldn’t see every artist we wanted to, that first day was magical.
For this writer, that first day started with Bartees Strange. The Washington D.C.-based musician took the Sutro stage at 1:25 with just his guitar, slowly building up “Far” until the rest of his band walked on stage to bring the slow burn to a climax. Most of his set was pulled from his 2020 debut album, Live Forever, with heavy hitters “Mustang,” “Flagey God,” and “Boomer” all making it onto the list, but he also debuted some new songs. I only caught the name of one, but “17” is going to be outstanding when it’s released, and if he ever decides to record his cover of The National’s “Lemonworld,” I’ll be there to buy the 45”.
After Bartees Strange, the crowd around the Sutro stage dispersed a little bit. For about five minutes. Then, the Bay Area crowd descended on the stage for Remi Wolf. Read our Remi Wolf reviews here and here, but also understand: she puts on a show. Cruising through most of her original material as well as covers of “Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley) and “Electric Feel” (MGMT), the energy and crowd brought to the Sutro rivaled past performances on that stage from D’Angelo (which I have only seen video of, unfortunately), Better Oblivion Community Center, and Hozier.
Again, sticking with Sutro, Moses Sumney took the stage around 4:05 with a stunning rendition of “Virile” off of his most recent album, 2020’s grae. Wearing a cape and an eye mask, Sumney absolutely torched through his set, covering new and old material with grace, style, and power. “Oh yeah, this s*** is way better than Coachella. … Anyway, can we talk about trauma?” Sumney asked before leading the crowd in a chant of “TRAU-MA, TRAU-MA, TRAU-MA,” in what was the funniest and most cathartic moment of the day.
Following Moses Sumney, I sprinted over to the GastroMagic stage to catch Earthgang with Lauren Von Der Pool (The Queen Of Green). GastroMagic is one of the best parts of Outside Lands because it fuses food and music in a way that appeals to everyone who knows of its existence. For this specific set, not only did we learn how to properly cook mushrooms (wait until after the mushrooms are cooked to salt them if you want to avoid soggy mushrooms), but we got to see The Queen of Green and Earthgang cook while vibing out to hip-hop hits of this year (“range brothers” and “Way 2 Sexy”) as well as have a performance of Earthgang’s 2019 hit, “Top Down.”
As I was walking over to the Lands End stage from GastroMagic, the fog began to roll in over the park, obscuring the view of the stage from the end of the polo field. All I could do was follow the sound of “August 10” to a place where I could eventually see the stage and the screen for Khruangbin. Unfortunately, I had gotten there just a bit too late, and the crowd that Khruangbin drew was massive. So massive, in fact, that I was not able to get anywhere near even the sound booth. Even still, they sounded amazing, and the visuals on the screens were trippy, and that’s the magic of Outside Lands: you don’t need to be right up front to enjoy sets on the main stage.
After Khruangbin, I was running over to the east end of the park, hoping to catch all of The Soul Rebels on the Panhandle stage. This New Orleans brass band covered so much ground, from Kanye West to Thundercat to The Isley Brother to Ice Cube. Pretty standard brass band stuff, but that “standard” always leads to something amazing. It’s just a funky good time.
Following The Soul Rebels, Earthgang took the Twin Peaks stage for their main set. They opened with “Top Down,” so anyone who was at GastroMagic got to see that performance in full force, and they absolutely took the house down. Earthgang is the future and the present, and they announced that their new album Ghetto Gods will be coming soon. Be sure to listen to Mirrorland in preparation.
JPEGMAFIA followed Earthgang’s Twin Peaks set on the Panhandle stage, and while he was his normal Peggy self, the vibes of the festival seemed to subdue him a little bit. He was still going insane, as he always does, but there was something different about this particular set that made it feel a little calmer than a normal JPEGMAFIA set. Still good, just different.
And finally, to close out the night, The Strokes took the Lands End stage at around 8:40 and played until about 9:45, fulfilling a bet I had made with a friend about whether or not they would play their full allotted time (they did not). However, though I made that bet and was happy to be right, the set we got was absolutely outstanding. Opening with “Call It Fate, Call It Karma” is a bold move from a veteran rock band, and it worked to perfection. Covering material from all albums except 2011’s Angles (much to my chagrin), The Strokes delivered a perfect set of 2000’s indie rock music for a crowd hungry for some nostalgia.
Overall, day 1 of Outside Lands brought the magic back to Golden Gate Park, and I am incredibly excited to see what day 2 brings. If you were there, let us know who you saw and what we missed out on! If you weren’t, let us know who you would have seen if you were!