Outside Lands

After more than two years of waiting for Outside Lands to return, day three felt bittersweet. The end of this grand return was looming and after such a long hiatus from marathons of constant stimulation, generally, many felt strange to notice that their labido for revelry had atrophied. Thankfully the final day started with a low-profile and built energy throughout the day encouraging fans to warm up with the lineup.

After a heavy-hitting first day of Outside Lands Festival day two proved just as enthralling in a different way. Where the acts of day one were largely upbeat, those performing the festival’s second day proved more lowkey and indie but still fantastic in their own way. 

Outside Lands is finally back. The crown jewel in the Bay Area’s yearly live music experience finally returned to Golden Gate Park. Three days of music, food, and escape for everyone from hippies to tech bros. Unable to return during their typical early-August dates due to pandemic-related restrictions, the festival was slated for a unique space on the calendar. Halloween, the unofficial landmark holiday of San Francisco, collided with the last day of Outside Lands 2021.

Our journey through day three of Outside Lands began with a heartfelt performance on the main stage from the original queen of soul and gospel music, Mavis Staples. Her set was packed with so many songs that have helped her career take flight throughout the years such as “Build A Bridge,” “Change,” and “We Get By” but her performance was about so much more than just hearing her hits, the ambiance of her performance was electrifying and the 80-year-old Staples simply put on a clinic on how music keeps us all young.

The hydra of entertainment and stimulation that is Outside Lands will always find a way to entertain all who visit. From music to food, to comedy, to Cannabis, and more, there is something for everyone who comes to this festival. Early on Saturday, we stopped by the Barbary tent to see the standup bill that had been put together. Comedian Jimmy O. Yang, known for his roles on “Silicon Valley” and “Crazy Rich Asians” headlined an afternoon of comedy that was  defined by equal parts observational and racial humor.

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.

Outside Lands celebrated its 10th year this August but at first glance, it runs like its been going on for much longer. The caliber of food, drink, performers, and even extra-curricular activities is unmatched on most other festival grounds.

Outside Lands is in its 9th year but you wouldn’t know to look at it. In some ways it feels like a brand new festival, while in others it’s clear that it’s far from amateur. The smooth operations, from getting fans through the gate without much wait to having eco-friendly workers to help navigate which bin to put your trash in (compost, recycling, or landfill), are just a few pieces of proof that Outside Lands really has their shit together.

There’s a reason everything tends to come back around. Yes, people love nostalgia and hindsight is 20/20, but the consistent resurgence of past trends stems from one thing: a lot of things were just better “back then.” Despite the technological progress made year after year, many photographers still swear up and down by film. Even with the endless possibilities laid out by virtual reality, millions of people still turn to Pokemon for entertainment.

Another year of Outside Lands flew by this weekend, and like it does every year, went out with its crown held high. Despite temperatures in the 50s and the festival’s pricey location in the heart of $an Francisco, droves of music lovers flocked to Golden Gate Park for the 8th year in a row to dance the cold gray away. With a top notch lineup for music, food, beer, and wine, it’s hard to imagine a single fan went home unsatisfied.