Outside Lands 2019 came and went, and the 12th year of the festival brought with it a wide array of emotions for all to step through the gates. This year’s Outside Lands featured their most polarizing line up to date. The general feel around the Bay Area in the months leading up to the festival was you either thought this was the strongest year yet, or adamantly detested everything it stood for, there was no in between. Those who predicted a miserable year for San Francisco’s biggest show of the year were sorely mistaken as the three days in Golden Gate Park proved to make history in many ways.
To start off our weekend, we stopped by to see Los Angeles Grateful Dead cover band, Grateful Shred. In true Deadhead fashion, just before their set, as the band was tuning their instruments, they could be heard from the front row of the audience whispering to themselves, asking each other what the setlist was. The audience started out small but grew exponentially as the set went on and more fans entered the venue. Even the most seasoned Outside Lands veterans were shocked to see that much tie die in the whole festival, much less centralized by the Twin Peaks stage, but the fans who flocked to it fit the description anyone would expect of blending Deadheads and modern music festivals. The members of the band took turns taking instrumental and vocal leads as they weaved in and out of song snippets and extemporized riffs, eventually appropriately ending with “Franklin’s Tower” as the audience rolled away to enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Rapper with a modern feminist message Boyfriend gave the Panhandle stage something to talk about as she drew a packed crowd to the smallest stage of the festival. From the moment she walked onstage composed, in a blazer, and her hair up in curlers, it was clear it was going to be a visually motivated set. In a set motivated by aesthetics, her stage was fitted with a changing tent back center which she and her backup dancers utilized frequently. Her lyrics reflected convictions such as gender equality and body positivity but not in a way that has been done so many times before. The sarcastic nature of her lyrics gave an edge to her message and entertained as well as educated the audience on the purpose of her music.
Lil Wayne lived up to his reputation in every way, both good and bad. His set took a while to get going, showing up to the stage 20 minutes later than expected, but his hype man filled in the gaps with an energetic DJ set, periodically asking the audience if they were ready to see “the greatest rapper alive.” Wayne eventually did appear, excited to perform in from of the eager crowd and his show did not disappoint. He opened his set with “6 Foot 7 Foot” and his performance took flight from there. About halfway through his performance, he launched into a stream of covers of all kinds, giving the Outside Lands crowd a sample of songs from Drake’s “HYFR”, French Montana’s “Pop That” and even Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem.” The screens around his stage even turned to a Western theme as he put a Weezy spin on Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”. Tunechi left the stage for a moment and immediately returned holding a Styrofoam cup, a symbol that has become synonymous with his name. He ended his set with some new and old school Wayne, performing Tha Carter III’s “A Milli” then closing his set with two of the most commercially successful hits off Tha Carter V, “Mona Lisa” and “Uproar.”
In one of the most energetic, and possibly greatest performances of the whole weekend, Blink-182 put on a show that agreed with new and seasoned fans alike. Mark, Matt, and Travis turned Golden Gate Park into an 80,000-person chorus as the crowd started to sing along from their first note of their opening song “Feeling This.” This first song dispelled rumors that blink would be playing their 1999 album “Enema of the State” as they had been doing so all summer in celebration of its 20th anniversary, and had already played to California audiences several times this summer, and the crowd immediately realized they instead opted for a setlist of their biggest hits across decades, prompting an enthusiastic reaction. Their set had a healthy mix of old and new blink songs, and even featured several songs from their upcoming album “Nine” such as “Blame It on My Youth” and “Generational Divide.” The special effects were flowing during the performance, as pyro and cryo tubes projected fire and fog behind the band throughout the show. The mood became much more serious as the band played their heavy hitting piece “Adam’s Song” which had historically weighed on the band so heavily that it had been retired until about a year prior, as Mark announced that it was about him almost killing himself. The set ended with a blink-182 staple, and the first (and last) song an entire generation learned to play on guitar, “Dammit.”
The crowd shrunk significantly for headliner Twenty One Pilots, as the competition of The Lumineers and Flying Lotus 3D who were scheduled at the same time proved to draw some of the eclectic audience’s attention, but the crowd was still healthy enough to make a sizable noise as the duo turned the volume all the way up to “11” for their opening song “Jumpsuit.” Fog and technical difficulties interrupted the quality of the video projected behind them for a few songs, but that did not seem to stop anyone from enjoying the set as lyrics were screamed from the audience throughout the show. An interactive set with lots of audience communication, the duo took an opportunity to make light of the events earlier in the day, giving a shout out to Lil Wayne’s hype man for giving, as they put it, the best set of the day. The set ended with a mix of new and old as they closed with a bass heavy cover of their newest single “Chlorine” which lead to their final song, one of their earlier hits “Trees.” As the band left the stage and the crowd dispersed, the fog rolled in and it became clear how cold it actually was, but on their way out, the masses took part in an Outside Lands tradition that warmed everyone’s heart, walking through the exit tunnel screaming the chorus from Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” on repeat, leaving everyone in anticipation of the talent-filled lineup the next two days.