Outside Lands: Daniel J. Willis’ Friday best and worst

Outside Lands Music Festival

Ranger Dave at Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10, 2018. Photos: Shawn Robbins and Joaquin Cabello

Outside Lands reveals its best and worst to me throughout the day, and it might not be what you expect. The best and worst of Friday are below. In short, I need more bacon.


Beck performs at Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10, 2018.

BEST: Beck is still extremely weird and kinda confusing. It’s more than a little reassuring. As crazy as the world has gone, as much as things have changed, we still have good ol’ Beck who apparently speaks entirely in non sequiturs and told the crowd he would fax something to their office during his set.

If Beck retires to take up accounting and golf, that’s when we know we’re officially doomed.

WORST: None of the songs during Beck’s set lasted three hours because he got into a serious thing then forgot how it ended.

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman performs at Golden Gate Park during Outside Lands on Aug. 10, 2018.

BEST: Chicano Batman. Just … Chicano Batman in a general sense. Everything about them. The frilly shirts they wear with their matching suits, for example. The fact that one of their backup dancers also sometimes plays the keyboard. And the soul. Oh, the soul.

Of all the things the world needs—to be on average two degrees celsius cooler, a better way to evenly and fairly distribute food and water, sanity in a general sense—it needs more good soul music. It’s out there, don’t get me wrong, and the Netflix series Luke Cage has done a great job elevating it, but we still need more. Chicano Batman is helping solve that problem, and I salute them for it.

Olivia O’Brien

Olivia O’Brien fans at Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10, 2018.

WORST: Friday’s crowd skewed fairly young, even more than most festival crowds. The lineup was more or less geared to a young crowd and young people responded. I felt extremely, maddeningly old all day. I’m pretty sure someone silently thought it was inspiring that I was still coming to Outside Lands at my age and I’m only 35.

But that’s not what I hated. (Well, it is, but that’s not what this entry is about.) What I hated was that the enormous crowd for Rex Orange County almost entirely left the Sutro Stage field, leaving Chicano Batman with maybe a third as many people. Sure, Billie Eillish was playing at the same time, but come on!

Also get off my lawn!

Rex Orange County

Rex Orange County performs at Golden Gate Park during Outside Lands on Aug. 10, 2018.

BEST: Speaking of Rex Orange County, his tour bus broke down overnight on the way to San Francisco with his equipment and band. Rather than canceling, he got to the festival with a guitar and a keyboard and played the set himself. And it was good!

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how impressive that is. He almost definitely hasn’t rehearsed a solo show. He probably hasn’t played his songs by himself for a crowd in a while, if at all. Then on top of that, he was woken up in the middle of the night and had to come up with a plan on the fly.

If he can pull that off successfully, I definitely have to see his full band next time he comes to town. I want to know what it was supposed to be like.

Kevin Bacon

WORST: Baconland is an area dedicated to bacon. They serve BLTs and bacon grilled cheese. They have a selection of gourmet bacons from small farms that can be sampled by themselves or in a flight. It’s pretty much my dream come true.

I had to leave that paradise sometimes to see stupid shows so I could write this stupid column for you people. There was a tasting menu of bacon nearby but I couldn’t stay there!

You jerks.

BEST: About halfway into the day, around the time the crowd of attendees probably topped 40,000 or 50,000, the carrier pigeons Sprint keeps in their sole cell tower wore out, and I lost signal.

Why isn’t that a negative? Well, I mean, have you seen the news lately? I got a glorious evening free of knowing what’s going on in the world! If someone stole a passenger plane from a major airport, or if the President regularly eats paper, I wouldn’t have known about it!

Sweet, sweet freedom.

Olivia O’Brien

Olivia O’Brien performs at Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10, 2018.

WORST: Olivia O’Brien’s set was very good! I was clearly not the target audience (we already went over how I’m now the inspiring old man), but I can appreciate a good artist when I see one. Overall, her songwriting is solid and her stage presence was that of someone twice her age.

The part I hated was that the chorus to one of her songs included the line, “I put tequila in my wine.” She’s only 18 so I’m going to assume she doesn’t have a huge amount of experience with this stuff, but that’s the grossest cocktail recipe I’ve ever heard. Why would you do that!? Either drink wine or drink tequila! Ugh. Seriously?

BEST: It never got above the mid-70s in Golden Gate Park today, and at my house in Concord, it touched 100. This is an excellent weekend for me to be at a nice, chilly festival rather than my sweltering oven of a house.

WORST: Eventually the sun started to go down, and those pleasant mid-70s temperatures turned into the coldest day of the year in Antarctica.

One time, I drove a friend from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, and because I’m an idiot I didn’t check the weather at the destination. It was a comfortable 85 degrees and sunny in Vegas, so I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Unfortunately, it was February, and Flagstaff, which is apparently at a much higher elevation, was in the middle of a blizzard.

I dropped my friend off and turned around to come back, but my Camaro was especially poorly equipped to deal with the conditions. My windshield immediately froze over to the point my wipers wouldn’t work, so I was forced to follow a semi’s tail lights until I spotted a gas station through my rolled-down side window. I parked, got out, and scraped my windshield clean with snow and ice blowing sideways onto my exposed arms.

I’m pretty sure Golden Gate Park is colder than that when the fog rolls in.

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

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