By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While the big main-stage headliners are always a major draw to any outdoor festival, veteran Outside Lands attendees know that sometimes the best moments of the festivals can be had earlier in the day, especially at the smaller stages.
Here’s a list of some recommended acts to catch during the course of the festival:
FRIDAY AUG. 9
Taylor Bennett (Lands End Stage 12 p.m.)
While the fact that he’s the younger brother of Chance the Rapper certainly gave Bennett a foothold that helped him become a rising hip-hop star, the talented, socially conscious MC has quickly established his own voice. An outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community (he came out as bisexual in 2017) and homeless youth, Bennett has self-released a string of EPs and mixtapes on his own over the past six years. His latest effort, The American Reject EP, came out last spring.
The California Honey Drops (Twin Peaks Stage 2:05 p.m.)
Longtime Bay Area roots rock/R&B favorites the California Honey Drops have been making their eclectic mix of blues, soul and funk for closing on a dozen years. Led by multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Lech Wierzynski, the eminently danceable group sounds like it should have emerged from the fertile New Orleans music scene rather than having its home base in Oakland. The band has self-released seven records, including last year’s ambitious double album Call It Home Volumes 1 & 2 that features a guest appearance by blues-rock legend Bonnie Raitt.
Red Room Orchestra (The Barbary 2:15 p.m.)
Started two years ago by veteran San Francisco musician and bandleader Marc Capelle as a group focused on interpreting the music from iconic director David Lynch’s surreal television show Twin Peaks, the Red Room Orchestra was soon expanding its mission to become SF’s premiere soundtrack interpreters and experimental large ensemble. In addition to providing live musical support to weird found footage at the SF International Film Festival and a staged readings at Clusterfest the past two years, the group has headlined severak showcase performances at the SF Sketchfest. For this return appearance at Outside Lands, the group will perform music from the soundtrack from The Big Lebowski with special guest singers and comic James Adomian narrating in Sam Elliot’s role as the Stranger.
The Marías (Panhandle Stage 4:30 p.m.)
A group that grew out of the partnership between LA musician Josh Conway and Puerto Rican-bred, Atlanta-raised vocalist María, this Latin-tinged lounge combo makes soulful psychedelic dream pop that has earned the band a growing international following. Though they have only been making music for three years, the Marías produced a pair of EPs spotlighting their velvet-smooth songs and band namesake’s sensuous delivery. The band will also headline an Outside Lands pre-party at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday night.
Masego (Sutro Stage 4:40 p.m.)
Gifted multi-instrumentalist and producer Masego first came to the attention of music fans when he started uploading Soundcloud remixes of his favorite songs. His creative saxophone-heavy versions garnered the musician fans and caught the ears of collaborators and fellow producers. A live improvised version of his song “Tadow” made with like-minded player FJK on YouTube drew an astounding 146 million views. He brings what he calls “trap house jazz” to the Sutro Stage Friday afternoon.
Jimmy O. Yang (The Barbary 5:50 p.m.; also 2:45 p.m. Saturday Aug. 10)
Bay Area comic and actor Yang broke out with his hysterical role as the scheming Jian-Yang on HBO’s popular comedy Silicon Valley, but he has expanded his following with a part in Crazy Rich Asians and the release of his memoir, How To American, which details his rise to fame in Los Angeles against all odds and his parents wishes. He will be proceeded for his stand-up sets at the Barbary by Daily Show correspondent Dulce Sloan, New York stand-up Nore Davis and Oakland comedian Nori Reed (who slayed during a main stage set at Clusterfest in June).
Flying Lotus 3D (Sutro Stage 8:40 p.m.)
One of the most forward-thinking producers in modern hip hop, Flying Lotus has placed himself firmly at the leading edge of experimental music since first emerging on the scene in 2006. The grandson of singer-songwriter Marilyn McLeod and great nephew of legendary keyboardist and harp player Alice Coltrane, FlyLo embraces an expansive style of beat alchemy drawing on unusual sample sources, heady atmospheres and avant-garde jazz sensibility. He signed to Warped Records and became one of the label’s marquee artists with his critically acclaimed second album, Los Angeles. Since then, Flying Lotus has actively collaborated with other musical mavericks like bassist Thundercat, rap iconoclasts Kendrick Lamar and Odd Future and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (the producer has remixed several of the band’s tracks). His latest effort Flamagra includes guest spots from funk overlord George Clinton, jazz great Herbie Hancock and fellow r&b/hip-hop experimentalists Anderson.Paak, Little Dragon and Solange. This performance in front of a widescreen 3D projection should be a feast for the eyes and ears.
SATURDAY AUG. 10
Amo Amo (Sutro Stage 12 p.m.)
Formed in the summer of 2017 when My Morning Jacket’s Jim James was working with members of the band the Mothers Tongue and singer Love Femme entered the picture, Amo Amo deliver a smoldering style of psychedelic pop that ought to sound perfect when they kick off the Saturday festivities on the Sutro Stage. Earlier this year, the band released their eponymous debut album produced by James to ecstatic reviews.
Altın Gün (Panhandle Stage 3 p.m.)
Founded by musicians who first worked together Dutch modern psych explorer Jacco Gardner, Altın Gün is a creative outlet for bassist Jasper Verhulst to explore a love for Turkish rock and folk music that he discovered during a post-tour stay in Istanbul. Teaming with Jacco Gardner guitarist Ben Rider, drummer Daniel Smienk, percussionist Gino Groenveld and Turkish musicians Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (saz), the group puts a modern psychedelic twist on Turkish traditional standards that sound fresh and otherworldly to unfamiliar ears. ATO Records recently issued their sophomore effort Gece.
Santigold (Lands End Stage 4:35 p.m.)
While she got her musical career started fronting the Philly-based punk band Stiffed (Bad Brains bassist Daryl Jenifer produced the group’s two albums), Santigold came to fame with the release of her genre-smashing 2008 solo debut that featured production help from the likes of Diplo, Switch and Disco D. Tackling a mix of electro, dub reggae, new wave and punk styles, the album established the singer as a force to be reckoned with. Santigold has issued two albums and two mixtapes — the most recent, I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, came out last year — in addition to collaborating with the likes of the Beastie Boys, GZA, electro-punk pioneers Devo and ASAP Rocky.
CupCakKe (Panhandle Stage 6:15 p.m.)
Chicago-based rapper CupCakKe has gotten plenty of attention for the lascivious lyrics and bawdy humor of her music since she started releasing songs online at the age of 15. Taking early inspiration from ’90s female MCs like Lil’ Kim and Da Brat, the prolific CupCakKe earned rave reviews for the two albums she issued in 2018. The rapper earned more notoriety earlier this year with a parody version of “Old Town Road” entitled “Old Town Hoe.”
SUNDAY AUG. 11
Cherry Glazerr (Sutro Stage 1:10 p.m.)
LA-based 15-year-old songwriter Clementine Creevy initially garnered attention with songs posted on Soundcloud, leading to a deal with Burger Records before Creevy even had a proper band. Joined by several high school friends to form Cherry Glazerr, Creevy and company would be invited to perform their hooky, lo-fi garage-pop at festivals like Beach Goth and South By Southwest. The band would eventually switch to the Secretly Canadian imprint, which released their third studio album Stuffed & Ready earlier this year. The band also plays it’s own headlining show at the Rickshaw Stop Saturday night with Boyfriend.
Alex Lahey (Panhandle Stage 1:20 p.m.)
Australian alt-rock songwriter Lahey has been making music professionally ever since dropping out of jazz classes as a teen to focus on work in a pop band. Her tune “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” won an Australian songwriting contest and became her first hit. She brings her five-piece band to the Panhandle Stage to deliver punchy, tuneful pop-punk tunes from her latest effort The Best Of Luck Club.
Mavis Staples (Lands End Stage 1:30 p.m.)
Iconic gospel-soul singer Mavis Staples has been dazzling audiences ever since she joined the family gospel group the Staples Singers led her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples at the tender age of 11. The group became one of the most popular gospel acts in history during the ’60s thanks to their association with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and their well-crafted versions of hits by Bob Dylan and Buffalo Springfield. The group had continued success in the early ’70s with “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” topping the charts. Mavis has had a long and fruitful career of her own that has had a renaissance in recent years, collaborating with contemporary artists like M. Ward, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Ben Harper on an acclaimed string of albums for Anti- Records. Now 80 year young, Staples remains a powerhouse performer onstage.
Jupiter & Okwess (Panhandle Stage 2:45 p.m.)
Led by charismatic singer Jupiter Bokondji, Jupiter & Okwess bring kinetic rhythms from their native Congo and mix them with the propulsive ’70s funk sounds of James Brown, Kool & the Gang and the Jackson 5. Though the band was founded in 1990, political unrest and civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo disrupted their career. While the danger led some members to flee the country for Europe, Bokondji remained in Kinsasha, giving the singer plenty of inspiration for his fiery, politically charged anthems.
Kacey Musgraves (Lands End Stage 4:10 p.m.)
First coming to wide exposure as a contestant on the singing competition show Nashville Star, Musgraves broke out as a bona fide country star with her smash debut album Same Trailer, Different Park in 2013. Known for tackling subject matter from an uncharacteristically progressive perspective that stands at odds with the frequently conservative world of country music, her politics still didn’t keep her 2018 effort Golden Hour from dominating the Grammys and the Country Music Awards as well as topping numerous “Best of” lists for the year.