Outside Lands Music 2018 Festival Recap

Outside Lands (OSL) is known for its summer camp vibe being amongst the trees of Golden Gate Park with Ranger Dave as a mascot and patches as the most popular souvenir from the fest. OSL consistently brings back old activities and experiments with new ones, kind of like the heritage and contemporary acts the festival consistently booked in the past. Although last year was the 10th Outside Lands, this year was the 10 year anniversary of the festival, and as the fest is aging it seems to be embracing and experimenting a lot more with the new.

Younger acts like Lizzo and Billie Eilish stole the show during the day Friday and Saturday, while second-string lineup act Janelle Monae, who performed a flawless set despite having food poisoning, was the most buzzed about set on Sunday. The festival also kept things fresh with two female headliners. The first was Florence Welch’s Florence and the Machine, who debuted a stunning new live show, which had members of the crowd exclaiming, “I don’t know what her cult is, but sign me up.” Because the deeper in the poster than expected act Huey Lewis and the News canceled their tour it was the first year the festival didn’t have what some might consider a “heritage” act. Despite this, OSL used the popularity of millennial 90s nostalgia to book Queen of Pop Janet Jackson as the closing headliner. Although the younger crowd primarily swarmed DJ Snake, those who showed up for Janet were treated to a high energy show-stopping set. Janet even took a moment to acknowledge, “It’s a lot of hits isn’t it?”

Aside from having its normal comedy sets at The Barbary tent, the fest banked on the popularity of podcasts and TED talks to host a series of D.A.V.E. talks, “Discussions About Virtually Everything,” with guests like Bill Nye, Mickey Hart, and Josh Clark. Although the fest did not sell any marijuana products it did have a cannabis lifestyle section called Grass Lands featuring dispensaries and cannabis brands as well as educational stations about growing and consumption. OSL had a scavenger hunt designed by The Go Game which had people training as Rangers throughout the festival and doing silly tasks all over fest grounds. For the past decade Ranger Dave has been the mascot for OSL, but festival added a female ranger to the mix for the first time this year with Ranger Ruth.

Text and photos by Annie Lesser.