Outside Lands Highlights: blink-182, Childish Gambino, Kygo and more

Photos by Chris C. Taylor

Outside Lands delivered another unforgettable festival for San Francisco and became the first major festival to sell weed legally at GrassLands. Outside Lands had beautiful weather and chill vibes as always. When the fog rolled in at night and the trees were lit up in a multicolored rainbow, I was reminded of what an epic place Golden Gate Park is to have a music festival. I was also impressed with the public transportation that the city of San Francisco set up (like the extra express buses running on the Richmond side), which made it super easy to get out of the festival. 

I wish I could have made it to all the sets, but here’s my review by day:


The Lumineers

I honestly came into this show with zero expectations and was happily surprised. The Lumineers performed beautifully. Their lead singer has an outstanding voice and they were the perfect band to be on the whimsical Twin Peaks stage.

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne came on 15-20 minutes late to his set performance. His DJ tried to get the crowd pumped while Lil Wayne wasn’t on stage but fans were still anticipating his arrival. When Lil Wayne finally came out, he didn’t live up to expectations. He sang a lot of slower songs when the crowd was looking to be pumped up, and when he sang “Lollipop” (arguably one of his biggest songs) he just screamed into the mic.


Blink-182 was everything your middle school self would have hoped and dreamed for! They played all their big hits and had the whole crowd ROCKING OUT! I personally felt like I was 13 years old again when they played hits like “What’s My Age Again,” “All the Small Things” and “I Miss You.” As I looked out at the crowd, I saw so many smiling faces, headbangers and air guitarists. They absolutely delivered for their fans! 


Oof! Saturday was brutally packed. I felt like I was a penguin waddling in and out of every show. And on top of everything, the sound was messed up on the main stage and wasn’t great on the Sutro stage. This made artists who could have had incredible performances, have less than stellar shows. I love you Outside Lands, but the sound quality issues definitely needed to be resolved by the end of this weekend.

Luckily, Saturday still had some outstanding acts: Altin Gün, Ella Mai, and Childish Gambino.

Altin Gün

You know when you’re at a festival and someone tells you to go see some random artist, and you’re like “why not?” Well, that was AltinGün. And they did NOT disappoint. If you love psych rock then this is the band for you. They’re Turkish and sing in Turkish but mannnn they’re funky and a good time. They incorporated psych-rock with middle eastern sounds, and it felt like you were on an acid trip even if you were sober. They played at the smallest stage, The Panhandle, at 3pm, and were the perfect daytime jam sesh. I will absolutely be seeing them again. 

Ella Mai

GODDESS! I didn’t see the very beginning of her show because I was at Flume, but oh my god! I love her! Ella Mai’s voice was sultry and powerful and even better than recorded. The crowd went wild when she played “Boo’d Up” and when she ended her show with “Naked,” everyone was entranced. 

Childish Gambino

He knows how to put on a show and get the crowd grooving. Childish Gambino attracted the biggest crowd in Outside Lands’ history (which he wasn’t shy about pointing out), and he delivered big time. He played all his hits including “Redbone,” This is America,” “Summertime Magic” and “Feels like Summer.” He kept in his persona the whole time, delivering expressive looks at the camera as he walked through the crowd. He is a true showman.


Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges was GROOVY and so much fun! He had a nice blend of new music from his Good Things album and old music from his Coming Home album. Leon gave a soulful performance, invoking R&B and swing generations before him. 

Paul Simon 

I can’t believe that at 77 years old, Paul Simon was able to captivate an audience like he did. Like a true hippie, he urged fans to save the planet and said all the proceeds of his show were going to the San Francisco Parks Alliance and Friends of the Urban Forest, which fans loved. He played hits like “Bridge over Troubled Water,” “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “Graceland.” He even finished his set with a duet from Bob Weir, from the Grateful Dead. 


I have to admit, I left Paul Simon a bit early to see Kygo and I wasn’t disappointed. Kygo played an amazing set. He had a full-on fucking orchestra at one point and played piano on a raised stage, highlighting his talents beyond just DJing. He also brought out guest vocalists and of course, flames shooting out when the beat dropped.


Overall, Outside Lands was a hit! It had everything from amazing performers to incredible food, wine, and weed. Hope to see you all at OSL 2020!

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