By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Now in its twelfth year, the annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival will once again bring top-flight bands, 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 diverse line-up that includes headlining acts Twenty One Pilots, Childish Gambino and Paul Simon as well as modern soul/hip-hop maestros Anderson.Paak and the Free Nationals, Flying Lotus 3D and Lil’ Wayne, pop-punk favorites blink-182, dance stars Flume and Kygo and acclaimed songwriter Hozier and young country upstart Kacey Musgraves, this edition of Outside Lands might be the most eclectic yet.
Beyond the top-billed groups, this year’s marathon celebration will present a host of major indie talents (electronic-tinged rockers TheNeighborhood, psychedelic Latin soul-pop group the Marías, local acoustic folk-rock group Rainbow Girls, bracing LA-based trio Cherry Glazerr, rising Aussie songwriter Alex Lahey indie-pop artist Matthew Houck‘s celebrated project Phosphorescent and literate combo Better Oblivion Community Center featuring noted tunesmiths Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst), hip-hop and modern R&B performers (lauded throwback soul singer Leon Bridges, songwriter/production guru RL Grimes, raunchy rapper CupCakKe, New Orleans-based “rap cabaret” act Boyfriend, acclaimed electro-reggae/soul vocalist and prolific collaborator Santigold and Bay Area rapper and member of the HBK Gang P Lo) and a handful of legacy rock and soul acts (’90s favorites Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians and the Bay Area’s own Counting Crows and gospel-soul legend Mavis Staples) 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 the New Parish (though some 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 local stand-ups Jimmy O. Yang (who broke out with his role on the HBO comedy Silicon Valley) and Nori Reed (who slayed during a main stage set at Clusterfest) along with Daily Show correspondent Dulce Sloan, drag queen Alyssa Edwards, comic and This American Life contributor Mike Birbiglia, actress and comedian Aparna Natcherla (who appeared in BoJack Horseman, Crashing and Corporate) and Ramy Youssef (the star of his own Hulu sitcom Ramy).
The tent will also offer the songs and stories of Taxi and Who’s the Boss? actor Tony Danza, the dark comedy and songs of Puddles Pity Party and local musician Marc Capelle leading his acclaimed Red Room Orchestra that includes members of Dirty Ghosts, Beulah, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Cake along with special guests singers Danza, Oxbow singer Eugene Robinson and local notables Stephen Yerkey and Kelley Stoltz performing the soundtrack from The Big Lebowski with comic James Adomian narrating in Sam Elliot’s role as the Stranger. The Barbary host the return of D.A.V.E. (Discussions About Nearly Everything), a speaker series that will feature computer scientist and philosopher Jaron Lanier talking about virtual reality, a recording of the podcast Ear Hustle with hosts Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods in a conversation moderated by Snap Judgement host Glynn Washington, and a chat between NPR’s All Things Considered co-host Audie Cornish and Aparna Nancherla.
The festival also brings back Grass Lands this year, a curated cannabis experience on the southern end of the Polo Field. The 21-and-over area was the first of its kind at an American music festival in 2018. In keeping with California’s legalization of recreational marijuana products, the area will offer a variety of vendors discussing products and other educational activities. Just two days before the festival, Outside Lands was granted a permit to allow the sale and consumption of pot products on site, marking a first for San Francisco.
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 Dillagence providing beat alchemy that draws inspiration from the late production genius J-Dilla and his classic album Donuts as Rich Table crafts their beloved porcini doughnuts, Bon Appétit Test Kitchen star Andy Baraghani collaborating with lascivious rapper CupcakKe to make slurpable treats and Tony Cervone of SF’s Souvla throwing a “pita party” with mopey operatic clown Puddles. The GastroMagic stage closes on Sunday with the return of the annual Beignets and Bounce Brunch 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. 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 2019
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 9-11, 12 p.m. $155-$1595
Golden Gate Park