The magnitude of Outside Lands Music Festival is downright staggering. Even the lower tiers of artists feature some of modern music’s shining lights, but the individual glows can be lost during the upcoming weekend of dazzling performances. With Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, Paul Simon, The Lumineers, Hozier, Kacey Musgraves, Lil Wayne and Ella Mai on the bill, that’s understandable.
We’ve combed through the extensive lineup to bring you 12 artists that shouldn’t be overlooked during the festivities. Sure, you owe it to us—but also to yourself—to consider the artists.
Denzel Curry — Twin Peaks, Sunday, 3:30 – 4:20 p.m.
Florida’s flagship trap-rapper has added the bangers from his new album, Zuu, to his set. That’s reason enough to see him, but his shows have become famous for their insane energy and convincing performances. He’s one of the few rappers from his wave that actually pulls his stuff off live. His music is also considerably more involved than most trap, so he has more than earned his reputation within hip-hop. It’s hard to think of a better rapper to rep this style for OSL, so do yourself a favor Sunday afternoon and watch him.
The Funk Hunters — Panhandle, Sunday, 7:35 – 8:20 p.m.
This DJ duo embodies OSL’s going theme of more timeless styles incorporated into electronic dance music. The Funk Hunters’ ability to revitalize classic funk and hip-hop for 2019 is nothing short of remarkable. You don’t even have to know which records they pull from to enjoy the vibes they create. To respect the roots of dance music while also remixing Imagine Dragons is a feat by itself.
Lauren Daigle — Twin Peaks, Friday, 5:15 – 6:05 p.m.
It’s downright unusual to hear the same person on pop radio and at church, but this Louisiana songwriter’s hooks transcend the usual contemporary Christian music. Her empowering tunes carry genuine spirituality, but her positivity is a universal quality. Her often piano-based arrangements inflate to tremendous proportions, carried by her powerful voice. More than simply “Christian Adele,” her songs remain both unique to her and unforgettable in their timbre.
Nahko and Medicine for the People — Twin Peaks, Sunday, 2 – 2:45 p.m.
Rock and rap have yielded polarizing combinations, but for Nahko Bear and company it’s something deeply communal. Genre distinction becomes irrelevant during these rousing anthems. Elements of positive hip-hop, rustic indie folk and various world music styles find a home in this sonic concoction. At its core, Bear desires to bring people together with him through music and foster a love for the world and all of its inhabitants. Activism and community elevate these catchy tunes, making them as prophetic as they are enjoyable.
Shallou — Twin Peaks, Saturday, 2:10 – 3 p.m.
This Maryland indietronica artist epitomizes the dance and emotive aspects of the style. His most recent EP put an emphasis on collaboration, expanding his sound and pushing his set into entirely different directions. Where many producers are content to make music for doing drugs and moving your body, Shallou’s has a compelling narrative to it as well. In this way, his music transcends its perceived confines and becomes a distinct, memorable experience.
Brasstracks — Panhandle, Friday, 6:05 – 6:45 p.m.
The unsung heroes of Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem” have proven to be a potent force in their own right. The Manhattan School of Music graduates write trap EDM with a brassy overtone. Ivan Jackson’s trumpet and Conor Rayne’s drums remain at the center of these adventurous electro-acoustic tunes. Part funk jam, part modern rave music, these guys channel their musical training into some of the best dance anthems Outside Lands has to offer.
half•alive — Lands End, Friday, 1:05 – 1:50 p.m.
If Tijuana Panthers hold down the fort for Long Beach rock and roll, then half•alive is the successor. The trio has quite a unique twist on the style, incorporating elements from throughout the spectrum of ’80s pop, garage revival and hooks—a lot of hooks. While not concerned with the harder aspects of rock, they still sound like a real band. Unlike a lot of pop-rock, what you hear on the record actually sounds like it could convincingly translate to a live setting.
ALLBLACK — Twin Peaks, Saturday, 12:40 – 1:25 p.m.
Considering that he started music partly due to peer pressure, there’s an air of reliability to the Oakland rapper’s approach. He’s uncompromising, politically incorrect and proud of it. He’s not just doing it for the clout, though. He writes about his unflattering experiences in the hopes of providing something relatable. His unfiltered lyrics and raw production make him a sure-fire pit-starter to get you on your feet after lunch.
PJ MORTON — Lands End, Sunday, 12:10 – 1 p.m.
It’s not every day that a traditional R&B singer makes it on a bill with Top 40 pop acts, but that speaks to PJ Morton’s surpassing appeal. His industriousness and charisma have made him a modern legend, and he’s out to prove he simply won’t stop. The intuitive touch he brings to his songs is the result of his tireless efforts to not only improve himself but bring the best out of those with whom he plays. That should be enough to convince you to catch the set.
Taylor Bennett — Lands End, Friday, 12 – 12:40 p.m.
Whether you’ve been following him since day one or were recently introduced to him on his guest appearance on his brother Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day, it would be a crime to let Taylor Bennett get overshadowed by his blood. He shares the jazzy, gospel rap qualities of Chance, but his flows carry more rhythmic intensity than the latter’s more melodic approach. Taylor Bennett’s compelling wordplay, classy production and impressive diversity will surely make for a consistently engrossing performance.
Luttrell — Panhandle, Friday, 7:50 – 8:35 p.m.
Like a lot of the EDM artists at Outside Lands, San Francisco’s Luttrell brings a distinctly song-like approach to his brand of melodic techno. Fans of deep house music and trippy soundscapes will have fun getting lost in the pulse. The catch is that soundscapes carry many memorable hooks. What could be seen as a mind-melding acid trip all of a sudden gets stuck in your head. Luttrell is able to cross audiences without sacrificing the eccentricities of electronica.
Still Woozy — Sutro, Friday, 3:20 – 4:10 p.m.
Watch the video below and see the indispensability of Sven Gamsky’s quirky style. Whether it’s his addictive grooves or his smooth vocals, his quirkiness remains at the center of his work. While not out of place for his lo-fi, downtempo approach, the contrast between his weird aesthetics and his vibe music reflects his unique personality. His hooks mosey into your head and stick around to hotbox while you get immersed in his simple charm. It’s gleefully odd, and it’s certainly worth your time.