By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Now in its eleventh year, the annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival will once again bring top-flight acts, headlining comedians, internationally known DJs and the kind of world-class cuisine, beer and wine San Francisco is known for to Golden Gate Park for a marathon weekend party. Since it’s inception in 2008, Outside Lands has established a deserved reputation as one of the country’s best summer music celebrations.
That reputation is part of what has made the festival one of the most hotly anticipated major concert events in California every year. Boasting a potent female-led line-up that includes headlining indie-rock siren Florence + the Machine and iconic R&B queen Janet Jackson as well as modern soul/hip-hop maestros the Weeknd and Future, dance stars Odesza and DJ Snake and acclaimed songwriters Beck and Justin Vernon (who leads his indie-folk group Bon Iver), this edition of Outside Lands might be the most forward thinking and diverse yet.
Beyond the top-billed groups, this year’s marathon celebration will present a host of major indie talents (rock hitmakers Portugal. The Man, Scottish trio Chvches, Brit producer/musicians James Blake and Jamie xx, Canadian songwriter Mac Demarco, returning electro-funk favorites Chromeo, Toronto-based collective Broken Social Scene and mercurial singer Father John Misty), hip-hop and modern R&B performers (lauded future soul singer and Prince acolyte Janelle Monae, maverick crew the Internet, producer Pharrell Williams and his group N.E.R.D., Vallejo group SOB x RBE, and Miami-based rapper Smokepurp) and throwback funk and soul acts (gritty North Bay band Monophonics, LA Latin funkateers Chicano Batman, jazzy, hard-grooving piano trio Gogo Penguin and soulful Midwestern quartet Durand Jones & the Indicators) that will appeal to a broad range of tastes. Some of the above acts will also be playing associated night shows at venues around San Francisco including the Independent, the Rickshaw Stop and Bimbo’s (though many of those events are already sold out).
Comedy fans will doubtless gravitate towards the Barbary, the antique tent presenting an all-star crew of comedians, improv and variety shows co-curated by local institution SF Sketchfest. Among the notables appearing over the course of the weekend are comics Michelle Wolfe (the ‘Daily Show’ correspondent who now hosts her own Netflix show ‘The Break’ after her scathing appearance at this year’s National White House Correspondents’ Dinner), Chelsea Peretti (‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and ‘Game Night’ fame) and Phoebe Robinson (of popular podcast turned HBO show ‘2 Dope Queens’) and New Zealand stand-up/actor Rhys Darby (‘Flight of the Conchords’ and ‘Wrecked’). The tent will also live podcast recordings of Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness featuring the ‘Queer Eye’ personality and Hanging with Paul Scheer hosted by the comic actor and noted sketch improviser (‘The League’ and ‘Human Giant’) and local musician Marc Capelle leading his acclaimed Red Room Orchestra that includes members of Cibo Matto, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Cake along with special guest guitarist James Williamson (of the Stooges) through a selection of music from the films of director Wes Anderson.
The festival will be offering couple of new attractions being at Outside Lands for the first time this year. Several D.A.V.E. (Discussions About Nearly Everything) talks held at the Barbary will feature speakers including former engineer turned television personality Bill Nye the Science Guy, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, candidate for California Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and ‘Stuff You Should Know’ podcast host Josh Clark. The festival will also be introducing Grass Lands this year, a curated cannabis experience on the southern end of the Polo Field. The 21-and-over area is the first of its kind at an American music festival that — in keeping with California’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana products — will offer a variety of vendors discussing products and other educational activities (though it should be noted that no cannabis or cannabis products will be available for purchase or consumption onsite).
The culinary side of Outside Lands has come to garner nearly as much attention as the music over the years as the festival has continued to expand the range of food offerings, culinary demonstrations and specialized areas. In addition to the long-standing cornucopia of food-focused “Lands” — A Taste of the Bay Area, Bacon Land, Choco Lands, Cheese Lands and the seafood-focused Outside Clams as well as designated beverage areas Cocktail Magic, Wine Lands and Beer Lands — the festival will offer up another full schedule of appearances at the GastroMagic stage, a demonstration/performance space that has proved to be extremely popular.
The stage creatively pairs restaurants and chefs with musical artists, including the return of the annual Bouncin’ for Beignets with Big Freedia disciple and transgender bounce artist Katey Red performing while handing out beignets made by Brenda’s Soul Food to those willing to twerk for food. Other highlights include a discussion of chemistry and cooking with Bill Nye and Vice cooking show star Matty Matheson, an appearance by author and television celebrity chef Eddie Huang (star of the Vice show ‘Huang’s World’), a partnership with SF’s Guittard Chocolate Company and ‘Star Wars’ inspired costumed metal band Galactic Empire and a teaming of the aforementioned Red Room Orchestra with ‘Twin Peaks’ stars Michael Horse and James Marshall performing music to the popular show alongside SF pastry chef Melissa Chou. For more info on what else is going on at Outside Lands including complete schedules, ticket information and site map, please visit the official website.
Outside Lands 2018
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 10-12, 12 p.m. $149.50-$795
Golden Gate Park