Friday, October 23, 2020
This could be the best (and queerest) Outside Lands...

This could be the best (and queerest) Outside Lands yet. If it happens.

Shedding its reliance on SF's classic-rock roots, the 2021 fest steps out and addresses some weak spots.

-

After this week’s announcement that its August hopes were dashed, Outside Lands is coming back in 2021. Maybe. Seeing as pretty much the only thing we could’ve predicted in the last six months of American history is that Grimes and Elon Musk would name their baby some weird-ass shit, I’m not sure how safe it is to assume everyone is going to want to (or be legally allowed to, or be able to afford to) stand in a crowded field doing drugs with a bunch of strangers. But hey, maybe the world will be anarchic enough by then that we’ll be able to bring in our own beer. 

If not, it’s a good thing poppers come in small containers. This is easily the gayest Outside Lands lineup yet, with Caroline Polachek, Yves Tumor, Rico Nasty, Angel Olsen, Big Thief, and Moses Sumney coming straight from the daily Spotify mixes of Dorothy’s Zoomer friends. (Charli XCX bailed, presumably to play more festivals in Minecraft.) The are-they-or-aren’t-they crowd even gets a nod in the form of Tyler, the Creator, and… I guess Young Thug wore a dress once. Cardboard sign suggestion: “Why the fuck did you make an album with Chris Brown?”

Outside Lands spent much of its early existence coasting on San Francisco’s classic-rock reputation. But this is the first major lineup I’ve been aware of that emphasizes rock’s current cutting edge, if such a thing exists. You might be familiar with globe-trotting Texas trio Khruangbin, and we’ll finally get to hear how Tame Impala’s Slow Rush songs sound through festival-sized speakers. But don’t miss Brittany Howard, whose Jaime arguably outshines her work as belter-in-chief for Alabama Shakes. Or the towering Yves Tumor, whose Heaven for a Tortured Mind is one of the best glam-rock albums since the ‘70s. Or Big Thief, though don’t count on them to play an encore.

The festival’s mostly fixed its rap problem, and there’s a healthy proportion of people of color on the bill, though only two of the headliners are women. One interesting thing: there are almost no DJs. The mercurial Zhu is the only headliner who could be remotely considered EDM, unless J Balvin counts. The pop picks (Lizzo, Kehlani, The 1975) are more interesting than the Uber-pop nothingburgers like Hozier and Twenty One Pilots that marred 2019’s lineup. And maybe you remember Tones & I, whose “Dance Monkey” was one of the last things that happened before COVID. Hopefully, her Outside Lands set will be one of the first things to happen after, but if not, this is still a lineup worth standing in one of 200,000 individual sterilized boxes for. 

Daniel Bromfield
Daniel Bromfield is a San Francisco native and arts journalist whose work has appeared in the Bay Guardian, San Francisco Magazine, Resident Advisor, and various music sites. He ran the SF Rebirth blog, documenting all-ages shows in the Bay Area, from 2010 to 2013. His work can be found at danielbromfield.com

More by this author

Star producer Ricky Reed steps back from the mic on ‘The Room’

Grammy-winning beatmaker talks life after notorious electro project Wallpaper., and how catching up with friends morphed into new album.

Bottoms up for spirits-lifting Oakland Cocktail Week (now a month)

Support local bars and drink in good company, as the festival pivots to a vital fundraiser.

On experimental duo Matmos’ latest, 99 is the magic number (and collaboration is key)

M.C. Schmidt of Matmos waves a limp assemblage of taped-together scraps of paper in front of his computer camera. “This is the third hour,...

Artist Tim Presley rediscovers spark robbed by addiction in new book

These painted figures that fill the pages of Tim Presley's new book Under the Banner of Concern seem to know your secrets. No matter...

How San Francisco changed the sound of Christian music

The Summer of Love was as fruitful a time for music as its long winter of discontent. As the hippie dream dissipated and mellow...

Most read

Documentary ‘The Reunited States’ looks to bridge the United States’ political abyss

An interview with filmmaker Ben Rekhi about his seemingly impossible mission to bring us all together.

This weekend, The Breath Project streams 24 nationwide theater works in honor of George Floyd

"It’s another brick in the wall. Or rather, we’re taking the wall down, so it’s a brick out of the wall.”

Screen Grabs: Borat’s ‘totally sensationalized false account’ and other bombshell releases

Sure, it has Giuliani looking suspect—but is 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm' any good? Plus, a new documentary on the grifters leading the alt-right movement, and 'The Guardian of Memory.'

Best of the Bay 2020: City Living winners

Best Street Fair, Best Salon, Best Politician, Best Tour, Best Hotel, Best Trainer, more in our 2020 Readers' Poll

Róisín Murphy buffs her disco-house crown on gliding ‘Róisín Machine’

The Irish diva showed us who she was through momentously silly quar performances. Her latest album affirms her mastery of the nocturnal club beat.

5 easy Sriracha-blessed bites for when you need that extra kick

It's a pleasure to premiere a peek inside my forthcoming self-published cookbook Sriracha Snacks at tonight's 48 Hills Online Variety Show Gala....

Nancy Pelosi just announced her retirement

Rep. Nancy Pelosi cut a deal that will put her in the position of House speaker for four more years (assuming the Democrats retain...

Are taxpayers subsidizing Uber and Lyft campaign?

Somehow, Yes on 22 mailers got nonprofit status with the Post Office.

The big GOP and real-estate money moves into District One

Fake tenants group and big outside cash is now trying to promote Philhour over Chan in a race that could determine the balance of power on the board.

You’re invited! Join us October 22 online for our ALL-STAR VARIETY GALA

Honey Mahogany, Marga Gomez, Peaches Christ, Davey D, Rose Aguilar, and more help us celebrate seven years!

You might also likeRELATED