Outside Lands: The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator and 8 more Friday highlights

The Strokes

The Strokes perform at Outside Lands in San Francisco on Oct. 29, 2021. Adam Pardee/STAFF and courtesy.

SAN FRANCISCO — Indie rock band The Strokes’ set at Outside Lands got off to a rough start, then it stayed rough for an uncomfortably long time.

The Strokes

The Strokes.

The band started about 20 minutes late. Then, the opener was the slow, jazz-inspired “Call It Fate, Call It Karma” which was not what the crowd was expecting. Lead singer Julian Casablancas eventually replied to the confused din mid-song with, “You talk amongst yourselves while we work this out.”



Things got more awkward when Casablancas tried to prod the largely quiet crowd into making more noise. There was a sizable group of fans near the front that was giving its all, but the rest of the tens of thousands watching were unmoved. The prodding quickly degenerated to asking whether the PA system was on, though to be fair his microphone or the mix made him hard to hear even when speaking without the band.

The Strokes

The Strokes.

The nadir was when he may or may not have made a statement about having both vaccine and mask mandates being absurd, but enough people thought that was the point he was making that there were a smattering of boos before he said, “Just kidding!” and moved onto the next song.



Fortunately, after that he largely stopped talking and powered through the rest of the songs. Beginning with “You Only Live Once” the remaining audience—a significant portion of the less-enthusiastic viewers had left—got into it. “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus” and “Is This It” pulled in some of the last holdouts. The guitar solo on “Reptilia” was fantastic, and the main set ended with The Strokes’ biggest hit, “Last Nite” which got everyone moving together and happily.

The encore consisted of “The Adults Are Talking” and “New York City Cops” and some fans were clearly satisfied, but it was a shaky set by the headliners nonetheless.



Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator.

While the crowd may have been diminishing as the Strokes played on, it was building, rapidly, for Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler was clearly expecting the huge audience and broke the bank on his production. The Twin Peaks stage was decorated as a dock in a harbor, with boat ties, a wooden boardwalk with lampposts and… get this: An actual boat. Not a rowboat, mind you. It was a fancy-looking motorboat, with (not real) waves surrounding it.



The show opened on a mountainous landscape, thanks to the stage’s massive video screen. The boat then began to actually rock as Tyler, the Creator walked out with two old-fashioned suitcases, sat down Forrest-Gump-style, took something out of one of the suitcases, stood up and began to rap “Corso,” off his new album Call Me If You Get Lost.

Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator.

All of a sudden, a massive fireworks show began on the stage, behind him. Whoever set that up deserves a cookie for not burning the stage down right there and then. It was as impressive as anything Metallica has done, fireworks-wise, but on the stage as opposed to above it.

The rest of the performance can best be described as “(Rappin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” In his signature shorts, shin-length socks and loafers, as well as a Tommy Bahama-type shirt, Tyler worked through songs like “LEMONHEAD,” “WusYaName” and “LUMBERJACK,” all of which were from the new album. At one point, two people in yellow rain slickers (this “IT”) came out to sweep the stage mid-songs. Maybe they were acting. Maybe the fireworks were still smoldering.



Tyler complimented the beautify of the park, and then pointed out that he was happy that he could see many Black people in the audience.

Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator.

“Usually it’s all white people. … I feel safe,” he said before launching into, “MASSA,” another new one. The song was set to a rippling lake with a full moon and stars, underscoring how well the production lifted the performance. Tyler was very emotive throughout, his gravelly voice cutting through the mix.

During “See You Again,” off 2017’s Flower Boy, the crowd sang louder than Tyler, the Creator.

“I finally figured it out with that album,” he said afterward, before launching into another batch of songs like “Who Dat Boy,” which had flames shooting up from the stage.



Glass Animals

The staging for Glass Animals’ set was nostalgic, using the same design elements from their most recent album, Dreamland. The introduction was a Windows 3.1 download bar from the early ‘90s, lots of neon pink and blue and a game of “Pac-Man” from the ‘80s. Their song “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” referencing the show that had its peak popularity in the early ‘00s. And the stage itself, with its palm trees and diving board, looked like a ‘60s motel pool.

Glass Animals

Glass Animals.

The band packed the polo field to the level of a Saturday night headliner; a dense and engaged crowd as far as you could see through the dense fog. And through the entire show, singer and frontman Dave Bayley kept them all in rapt attention with his constant energy, finishing the show dripping with sweat despite the cold.

The set was mostly new songs like “Tangerine,” “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” and the aforementioned “Space Ghost” homage, but also new single “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)” which was appropriate for the amount of dancing Bayley did.



During “Pork Soda,” Bayley held a pineapple during the early refrain “pineapples are in my head” but explained that he’s not allowed to throw them anymore and had it safely passed to a woman in the crowd. Late in the set, as an added bonus, the band brought out rapper Denzel Curry for his verse on “Tokyo Drifting.”



EarthGang

Tyler, the Creator had the more lavish stage production, but Atlanta hip-hop duo EarthGang were nearly as fun in their 45-minute set. Kicking things off with “Top Down” and the uplifting “Proud Of U,” Olu and WowGr8 were melodic and rambunctious. Olu said later that both had already had a little to drink.

Earthgang

EarthGang.

“This Side” came across more like a spoken-word poetry piece because the music was very low in the mix. “Missed Call” led into “Artificial,” and then “Baptize,” a song the duo recorded with their collaborators like J.I.D, better known as Spillage Village.

Olu wore jeans and a white T-shirt, while WowGr8 had on white Dickies overalls with a green shirt. Olu eventually took off his shirt to reveal a very impressive six-pack. The two took turns having their moments on songs, which sometimes were delivered at breakneck speed. Highlights included “Sacrifices” and “1993,” which Olu implied was about his early life; while he grew up in Atlanta, he was actually born in the Bay Area because his mom was going to school here at the time, he said.

The two then demanded that fans form a circle pit and “go to war” during “Down Bad.” The end of the set included a fiery “Bank” and the premiere of a new song from EarthGang’s forthcoming album, Ghetto Gods.



Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten, more than most acts, noted the strangeness of packing over 100,000 people in a park during a pandemic that was still going on. Barefoot on stage in a very sparkly dress, at one point she snarked, “Thank you for risking your lives to be here.”

Risk aside—the festival does have strict requirements for a vaccine or a negative rapid test—her set was a crowd-pleaser with songs like “Jupiter 4,” “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” and “Comeback Kid.” To top it all off, for her last song she brought up her friend and collaborator Angel Olsen for their duet “Like I Used To,” since Olsen was at the festival anyway for her Saturday evening set.

Yung Bae

Yung Bae

Yung Bae performs at Outside Lands in San Francisco on Oct. 29, 2021.

Oregon-born future funk producer, DJ and musician Yung Bae opened with a sample of “Pure Imagination” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and was off and flying from there. Wearing his Navy (or is it Air Force?) whites, he worked a DJ table enveloped by a curved video screen, blending existing hits with new tracks and spinning classics like “Best of My Love” by the Emotions and “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior.

The set included “Wonder,” “It Must Be Love”—his biggest hit so far—”Bad Boy” and unreleased cuts like “Clap Your Hands.” For good measure, he threw in Empire of the Sun’s “Walking On a Dream” and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.”



The HU

Typically, the early acts on the first day of the festival draw lighter crowds. Apparently, Mongolian metal band The HU did not get that memo. With eight musicians on stage, including two morin khuur players and a tovshuur player, two drummers, and a rhythm guitarist and bassist, The HU’s set was raucous fun.

The Hu

The HU.

The band opened with the chantable “Shoog Shoog” and, though its second song, a power ballad, slowed the mood a bit, the set got a group of people who may have never seen a metal show before throwing up the horns and starting a rudimentary mosh pit.

When singer Jaya said something in Mongolian, the crowd cheered wildly even though few if any knew what he actually said. Whether they were fans when they arrived, they sure seemed to be by the end, judging by the “HU! HU! HU!” chants.



070 Shake

Danielle Balbuena, better known as 070 Shake, must have some morning routine. She was so fired up for her early set on Friday that she routinely released blood-curdling screams that cracked her voice. But she didn’t seem to care. She started by calling the more active fans to the front to dance. It was a theme she repeated several times as she asked casual listeners to move out of the way.

070 Shake

070 Shake.

Opening with thumping mid-tempo ballad “Morrow,” 070 Shake kept ratcheting up the intensity and calling out the crowd for not following her lead.

“You guys are being too boring! Come on!” she demanded. “I’m here with you. You’re all vaccinated!” She then jumped into the barricade, pulling a swarm of fans in her direction.

“The Pines” was full of metal-worthy shrieks, but she played around with tempo throughout. “Guilty Conscience” was a softer ballad but also a highlight. “Microdosing” was also a moody tune, while “Honey” was a club banger on which 070 Shake had a crowd encircle a man in a giraffe costume and then rush him when the beat dropped.



Flo Milli

The Alabama rapper came in hot with her braggadocious flows, blasting through cuts like “Roaring 20s,” “Like That Bitch,” “Weak” and “Pockets Bigger.” “Beef FloMix” had seemingly everyone singing along with Flo.

“I do what I want to do,” she rapped on “May I,” while during “In the Party,” she hopped off the stage and rapped right in peoples’ faces in the front row.

The only problem was that was her last song, and it came about 20 minutes into the performance, which was supposed to be 45 minutes long. Many people were left a little confused when she disappeared and didn’t return.

Trevor Daniel

Houston-native singer-songwriter Trevor Daniel didn’t tour last year for his debut album so, technically, despite the lag in time, this is it. But it took a bit of explaining.

“This one’s from my new album,” he said about the title track “Nicotine.” “Well… it’s not that new. It came out last year. But it’s not that long ago because fuck last year, you know?”

His fans didn’t seem to mind as he covered songs from his aforementioned first album, collaborations like “Past Life” (without Selena Gomez) and “Fingers Crossed” (without Julia Michaels), and his just-released single, “Alone.”

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData. Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter. Follow photographer Adam Pardee at Instagram.com/adampardeephoto and adampardee.com.

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