Outside Lands: Back and spookier than ever

Outside Lands, an annual music festival held in Golden Gate Park, was given a spooky resurrection during the 2021 Halloween weekend. The event featured costumed concert-goers, a line-up to die for, and a considerable number of “Squid Game” references that got old quickly.  

The festival, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, is usually held in the summer, but the date was pushed to Oct. 29-31 of this year. However, no amount of mid-semester stress could keep USF attendees from spending their weekend pushing through zombie-like crowds to see their favorite performers take the stage.  

“This was my first time at Outside Lands,” said Giuliana Salomone, a senior media studies major. “I was most looking forward to Vampire Weekend and Tame Impala. I’m tired as hell, but I had a great time.”

The Headliners 

Headliners on Oct. 29 included Glass Animals, Tyler, The Creator, and The Strokes. A debate was hashed out during the shuttle ride to the festival over whose set was more worthy of attendance: Tyler, The Creator, or The Strokes, since they were scheduled at the same time, at stages on opposite ends of the massive Golden Gate Park Polo Field. A particularly high-energy group startled almost everyone on the bus when they screamed “TYLER!” One couple made a case for DJ Kaytranada, but their contribution was drowned out amongst the Strokes v. Tyler debacle. 

It was Tyler’s first time performing at Outside Lands, which he had to confirm with the crowd. “I think this is my first time playing at Outside Lands,” he said with uncertainty to the crowd, “Right? Yeah, no, I think it is.” He began with songs from his recent 2021 album, “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,” such as “LUMBERJACK,” which he performed with high energy, jumping on and off the top of a boat that took up a third of the stage. His visuals fit the retro, 60’s pastel aesthetic of the “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” album art. But he didn’t stick to his newer music. For his older fans, he played songs from his earlier albums, like “Flower Boy” and “Cherry Bomb.” His popular song “See You Again,” was received with roaring enthusiasm from the crowd, as the lyrics “Okay, Okay, Okay…oh” followed by dreamy piano notes and slow, drawn out vocals flowed from the speakers.   

“Tyler was amazing,” said Ethen Pociask, a senior computer science major. “He had such a good stage presence. He’s a natural comedian.”

Tyler, the Creator performs at the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands. PHOTO BY CALLIE FAUSEY / SAN FRANCISCO FOGHORN

The Strokes were classic. Singer Julian Casablancas made some semi-controversial statements about the city’s vaccination requirements, saying he hadn’t been let into a restaurant because of some issues with proof of vaccination, but otherwise the band captivated the crowd. They performed a range of songs from across their 20-year-old discography, the well-known alternative rock ballads “Someday” and “Last Nite” from their 2001 album “Is This It” causing a majority of attendees to belt out the lyrics in unison.

I ran to the Land’s End stage from the festival entrance to catch Glass Animals but got there only in time to see them perform their hit, dreamy-pop song “Heat Waves,” which was worth breaking a sweat for. 

Oct. 30’s notable headliners included alt-rock band Vampire Weekend and pop singer and rapper Lizzo. Vampire Weekend lit up the stage for their first show in 18 months, and their only show of 2021. Their set was nostalgic for some USF students, like Salomone and Megan Pump, who mentioned that she has also been a fan since high school. The voice of singer Ezra Koenig and the band’s catchy indie-rock songs “Campus” and “A-Punk” from their titular 2008 album “Vampire Weekend,” brought back feelings of being fourteen and carefree. 

Lizzo put on a spectacular performance in an eye-catching green latex body suit, wooing the crowd with her hit songs “Juice” and “Truth Hurts,” and even taking the time to make a TikTok with the crowd in the middle of her set, appropriately followed by her song “Phone.” She led the audience in reciting positive manifestations, saying “I love you, you are beautiful, you can do anything.” Lizzo was the only person I forgive for making a Squid Game reference because of her pure commitment. She left the stage and returned dressed as the “Red Light, Green Light” doll from the show, and her accompanying band members were all dressed as the game staff from the show.  

Sunday ended with Tame Impala’s (aka Kevin Parker) set, who I do not forgive for his Squid Game reference, although his joke about being replaced by the Wiggles elicited a sensible chuckle. The bright, artistic visuals included images of blinking eyes and other unique graphics, and the accompanying sounds of his music were loud and captivating. Although Mr. Impala’s stop at Outside Lands was a part of the tour for his 2020 album, “The Slow Rush,” he mostly performed songs from his popular 2015 album “Currents.” 

An Unexpected Performer 

Aminé (a.k.a Adam Aminé Daniel), a rapper, singer, and songwriter took the place of headliner Young Thug on Saturday, who couldn’t make it. No one in the audience seemed disappointed, though, and the change was in fact a cause of celebration for myself.  

“I was walking my dog this morning and just chilling and they called me and they were like ‘Wanna play at Outside Lands?’ and I was like…yea,” Amine said.  

Amine played his popular songs like “Caroline,” from his 2016 album “Good For You,” as well as some interesting mash-ups, like his song “Spice Girl” transiting into “Wannabe” by, yes, the Spice Girls. In between songs, he encouraged the crowd to mosh and participate in positive mantras. Whenever he would shout, “You’re beautiful,” he expected an “I know,” from the audience in response. 

KUSF’s Frequently Played and Indie Artists

Indie artists also took to the stage at Outside Lands. Boy Scouts, Claud, Dr. Dog, Boy Pablo, and Goth Babe had their set times scheduled earlier in the day but still drew considerable crowds to their performances. 

Dr. Dog, an indie-rock band most well-known for their song that blew up on TikTok, “Where’d All the Time Go?” Boy Pablo, an indie-pop musical project lead by Norwegian singer songwriter Nicolas Muñoz, and Goth Babe, a surf/indie-pop band, were the more well-known indie artists who played at the event. I didn’t stay long enough to hear Dr. Dog play their most famous song, but I did stick around long enough to learn a bit more about the rest of their discography, which gave me midwestern, alt-rock vibes. Boy Pablo filled the crowd with energy and had cute, aesthetic visuals reminiscent of “Lofi hip hop beats to chill/study to” Youtube videos accompanying their catchy music, like their 2017 single “Dance, Baby!” Goth Babe’s frontman Griffin Washburn put on a literal hazmat suit to crowd surf in the middle of the band’s set. Goth Babe’s performance gave off warm, beach campsite feelings and had videos of Washburn’s dog, Sadie, playing on the screen behind them. 

Boy Scouts (aka Taylor Vick) performed songs from their new album, “Wayfinder,” which people can hear by tuning into KUSF, as it is featured on KUSF’s “Currents” playlist. Claud, a bedroom-pop artist with a similarly young discography, is also frequently heard over KUSF’s digital airwaves. They performed songs from their 2020 album “Super Monster,”  such as my personal favorite, “Soft Spot.”  

“I felt really good about my performance,” Claud, who had been on tour for two months leading up to Outside Lands, said. “It was really fun and scary.”

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