photos by Jennifer Gross of Festival Squad
Another year has come and gone. With hype higher than the locals’ rent, the fog has finally cleared and we can say with confidence that Outside Lands in San Francisco delivered. Whether you were a senior or software developer, Ranger Dave made sure to meet your standards.
The Bay Area has a knack for drawing crowds from all walks of life, weather of all sorts, and artists of all genres. In addition to its versatile lineup, festival directors delivered unique installments like the first of its kind, Grasslands, which honored newly legalized cannabis in California. Festival-goers drank wine and ate cheese and danced until they couldn’t feel their legs. Sunsets of orange and pink hues wowed the crowd at sundown.
Besides the obvious topnotch performances from headliners Florence + The Machine, The Weeknd, Beck, and Future, smaller acts brought their A-game in hopes of attracting new fans.
Take a trip down memory lane with me as we highlight the most memorable acts of Outside Lands 2018:
Known by his stage name, Lauv, Ari Leff is a 24-year-old singer and songwriter on the rise. He’s just getting started. I predict he’ll be an international sensation within the next two years. Getting his start in music engineering at NYU, he pens lyrics about earth-shattering break-ups and the ever-so-dangerous game of falling in love. Besides his adorable quirkiness, his voice is buttery and wonderful. Listen to his album and you’ll notice banger after banger, followed by sweet, sad slow songs. Sounds like an odd mix, but it works. If you haven’t heard “I Like Me Better”, you’re living under a rock. His set was unsurprisingly enjoyable and set the tone for the rest of day one.
2. Quinn XCII
Another underdog that brought his all on day one was Quinn XCII, pronounced Quinn 92, which stands for Quit Unless Your Instincts Are Never Neglected followed by the roman numerals for 92. His real name is Mike. Not in the least bit confusing! He played up the crowd with hits like “Straightjacket” and “Another Day In Paradise”. What’s not to like? He came, he entertained, and he earned a spot on my list of artists to see again.
PSA: Pharrell traded in his top hat for a ballcap. Honestly, I could end this sentence here and I’d have said enough about this performance. Jk. N.E.R.D. rocked the motha f’in house. Pharrell jumping around in short yellow shorts is really all you need to get through a bad day. Musicians and dancers joined the group on stage for a well-rounded, high energy show. Good work, boys. The 2000s child in me is dancing for joy somewhere.
4. Father John Misty
At the same time as ODESZA. Move along, folks.
Which leads me to my next performance and likely the most important part of this entire article. Can ODESZA do any wrong? The answer is a big fat NO. In my opinion, they got absolutely SCREWED with a 6:25pm slot. Really? Who organized this fest and do they not realize that lasers, lights, and everything in between make ODESZA’s set the most magical on earth? Despite this minor scheduling mishap, the Seattle-born group gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – an epic, life-changing, cinematic experience, as per usual. Try not to dance to their rendition of the Locomotion – I dare you. They debuted a brand new song that gives off sultry house vibes complete with ancient-like statues floating onscreen. They originally played this new beat at Lollapalooza and I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve checked the world wide web in search of this track. Luckily at Festival Squad, we have you covered and you can watch that video here. ODESZA is truly the duo of our generation. You can guarantee at any given festival that you’ll overhear a white dude in jean shorts somewhere blabbing on about how amazing they are, and for good reason. They’ve earned it.
I’m still bitter that I missed Bon Iver, but I’ll pretend like OSL didn’t overlap two of the greatest artists to grace this lineup. As you probably all know, Illenium recently opened up to his fans by pouring his heart into an essay on social media about his heroin overdose 6 years ago. Shortly after releasing a note to his fans, he dropped the track, “Take Me Down”, which is pretty on par with the rest of his music. It talks of his personal struggles with addiction and how it affects the ones you love. Besides feeling a smidgen of heartbreak, hearing “Fractures” at the Twin Peaks stage between the trees was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. 10 points for Illenium.
Oh, Gryffy. Where do I even begin? My boyfriend told me I would “owe him one” after attending this performance. I cackled at this statement because I knew deep in my soul that Gryffin would prove him wrong. I would like to take this moment to say thank you to Dan Griffith for providing me with this blessing. Once I heard the faint beginnings of “Mr. Brightside”, I knew I had won this argument. Gryffin played to the crowd of EDM-lovers, mixing fan favorite tracks and delivering a harder show than he might normally. Elley Duhé took the stage for a live performance of his new track, “Tie Me Down”, and I’m positive my vocals suffered heavily because of this. His utter love for performing on top of his ass-crushing guitar skills make for an epic show, time and time again.
If you’re looking for a bangin‘ time in the heart of San Francisco, this fits the bill. The festival was organized, offered a variety of food & beverage options, and I never waited more than 5 minutes to use the bathroom. The lineup was diverse and rounded the weekend out with acts that would please the entire group.