Outside Lands 2019: The best and worst of Saturday

Tierra Whack

Tierra Whack performs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the Outside Lands Music Festival on Aug. 10, 2019. Photos: Martin Lacey and Joaquin Cabello.

Day 2 of Outside Lands is behind us, so it’s that time we’ve all been waiting for… some of us have been waiting for… OK, fine, it’s that time I alone have been waiting for! Time for me to celebrate the overlooked and air my grievances about the festival’s annoyances. But only because I’ve been told nobody wants to just read a long list of my many, many grievances.

Best: Future EGOT winner Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is making the world a better place in ways you didn’t even know about.

Outside Lands, Outside Lands 2019, Outside Lands Music Festival,

HeadCount volunteers register new voters at Outside Lands in San Francisco on Aug. 10, 2019. Several hundred were registered on the first two days of the fest.

You saw those people registering voters, right? The ones from HeadCount? They had clipboards and probably asked if you’re registered, and if you’re not you definitely talked to them and signed up to do your civic duty. You may assume they just show up wherever enough people gather, asking forgiveness rather than permission. Or at least that’s what I assumed.

As it turns out they only come when invited by one of the bands. And who invited them to Outside Lands? None other than Troy Barnes-turned-Lando himself, Mr. Donald Glover. And for that—plus his talent at more or less all the things—he has my respect.

Worst: People. People are the worst. Not individually per se, but in large enough groups.

Outside Lands, OSL

Attendees at Outside Lands at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco photographed on Aug. 10, 2019.

Saturday nights are usually crowded on account of that’s when Anther Planet Entertainment books the biggest bands, but this year was above and beyond. By nightfall it seemed like every inch of Golden Gate Park had an underdressed-for-the-weather reveler standing on it. And they flowed like a raging river, trapping anyone foolish enough to try to wade across and taking them wherever it was headed.

For example, when Bea Miller’s set ended, I intended to head back to the press tent to write up what I thought. (It was good! I thought it was good.) But there was a dense mass of people in every direction, and they were flowing toward Twin Peaks, so I was dragged with them to a set I wasn’t even reviewing. Then I was trapped there.

On Monday when this is all over, I’m not talking to anyone but the dog.

Best: Psychedelic Turkish folk rock is the genre you didn’t know you needed in your life.

Altin Gün

Altin Gün performs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the Outside Lands Music Festival on Aug. 10, 2019.

Let’s back up a bit. Every year I become obsessed with a foreign band I heard at Outside Lands. In 2017 it was Chilean powerhouse Mon Laferte, who I went on to interview, and last year it was Japanese acid rock throwbacks Kikagaku Moyo. But this year’s wasn’t completely new to me.

When RIFF published an interview with Amsterdam natives Altin Gün, purveyors of said psychedelic Turkish folk rock, I gave them a listen. If it’s good enough for Dolph Hogewoning, Dutch Consul General in New York City who retweeted the article, it’s good enough for me.

I liked it a lot, but it wasn’t immediately life-changing. Then I saw the band live, and my life was changed.

It’s admittedly too late to see them live without leaving the country; Outside Lands was the last stop on their U.S. tour. But you should definitely try listening to them. Hopefully it doesn’t take you as long as it took me.

Worst: It was not a good idea to put rising pop rock star Bea Miller on the small and inconveniently located Panhandle stage.

Bea Miller

Bea Miller performs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the Outside Lands Music Festival on Aug. 10, 2019.

Between fans of her current era as an outspoken rocker and her prior era as a teen singer from a reality show, people know who she is. And apparently a lot of them wanted to see her because the entire area around the Panhandle was completely packed with a dense, immobile mass of people.

Unfortunately, that’s also supposed to be the route to the Twin Peaks stage. So an especially popular Panhandle act completely blocks the flow of traffic, creating even more gridlock. Which happened. To excess.

So do a better job with placement, OK? Or sell maybe 15 percent fewer Saturday tickets.

Best: After having very few rappers last year, Outside Lands did an excellent job stacking the lineup with a variety of hip-hop acts this year. From Childish Gambino to Lil Wayne to—sigh—Felly, it seems they took the criticism to heart.


CupcakKe performs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the Outside Lands Music Festival on Aug. 10, 2019.

Even better than having more rappers overall, though, is that they booked multiple female rappers. Hip-hop is as bad as rock with discouraging and marginalizing women, so elevating Tierra Whack and CupCakKe is a great step, especially considering how different they are: Whack as a thoughtful lyricist, and CupCakKe as a joyfully profane counterbalance to misogyny.

Next, let’s talk about not elevating suburban white kids using black culture and terminology in their SoundCloud raps…

Worst: RIFF’s illustrious founder Roman Gokhman introduced me to dipped ice cream tacos from Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos.

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The RIFF crew samples some Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos at Outside Lands at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Aug. 10, 2019.

Basically it’s a sheet of the sort of waffle they make ice cream cones out of, folded like a taco, filled with ice cream, and dipped in some sort of coating. I had espresso ice cream and a white chocolate dip.

The ice cream taco itself wasn’t the worst. Far from it. Ice cream and tacos are two great things, and they’re even better when they join forces. What’s the worst is that they won’t bring them to be on demand wherever I may be, even if I’m at home. And they want me to pay for them! With money!

It just seems cruel to withhold something so great just because I’m nowhere near their food truck.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.

(1) Comment

  1. Morgan F

    Thanks for shouting out HeadCount but they have been at every Outside Lands and are most definitely not invited by any of the bands. They do, however, work closely with some of the artists to further their mission of registering people to vote and Donald Glover should definitely be applauded for opting into that.

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