Outside Lands
Photo: Paige Parsons / Courtesy of Outside Lands

5 Hometown Heroes for Outside Lands 2021

Scattered among the worldwide acts for Outside Lands 2021 are several artists who will save on hotel costs since they’re already home.

The long-awaited return of Outside Lands features musicians hailing from multiple continents and corners from around the globe.

From Perth, Australia (Tame Impala) to Port Harcourt, Nigeria (Burna Boy)—and even some folkie heavy metal via Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (The Hu)—there’s going to be an abundance of freshly-inked passport stamps inspired by the Bay Area’s signature weekend festival occurring 29-31 October.

However, some artists won’t have to pay more than a bridge toll to arrive at Golden Gate Park this weekend. The Bay Area is home to several musicians who are set to celebrate the return of Outside Lands after its first postponement in 12 years of existence.

The excitement across the Bay is palpable; those desperate for tickets frantically refresh webpages for resellers while the lucky 200,000 who secured their pass wait for Friday with bated breath. And the cherry on top… This year’s festival is slated for Halloween just as the weather in the Bay becomes remarkably crisp, ideal conditions for layering yourself with a costume.

As expected, the headliners selected this year are guaranteed to close out each night with delightful musical splendor. Serving as the festival’s granddaddies on Friday are the Strokes, who have found reinvigorated acclaim after their successful sixth album, The New Abnormal. Commanding the Saturday night slot is Lizzo, hot off of claiming the world’s affection since her last appearance at Outside Lands in 2018. And closing out the festival, on All Hallows’ Eve, is Tame Impala, who have leaned deeper into disco sensibilities with last year’s The Slow Rush.

Tucked within the weekend are five local acts equally as deserving of your gaze. Outside Lands might be recognized as a world festival, but these artists have the clout to bring it all back home.


Madeline Kenney

Sutro Stage / Friday / 12:10 pm — 12:55 pm

Oakland’s Madeline Kenney essentially kicks off the whole weekend with her early afternoon set. It’s appropriate scheduling, as her gorgeous, mid-tempo indie rock tends to invite you into her world with a graceful lure. Her 2020 album Sucker Punch, her second release on Carpark Records, continues Madeline Kenney’s exploration of intriguing soundscapes layered over her guitar roots. As the tattoo of Arthur Russell on her left arm suggests, Madeline Kenney is playing in the sandbox with her songwriting, deconstructing convention and charting new paths from the ear to the soul.


Remi Wolf

Sutro Stage / Friday / 2:40 pm — 3:30 pm

Although Remi Wolf traded the San Francisco Bay area for Los Angeles (an all-to-common curse of action), the electropop songstress originally hails from Palo Alto. Her music overflows with energy, an homage to the high-voltage acts that predate the 25-year-old— her latest single is an ode to sergeant Chili Pepper “Anthony Kiedis”. Remi Wolf‘s new album Juno was apparently inspired by her dog, as have all her releases include a canine bent, most notably 2020’s cheeky I’m Allergic to Dogs. Perhaps it’s the undying companionship that has Remi Wolf continuing to reference her four-legged muse? Or it’s how her buoyant music resonates with the puppy energy inside us all.


Boy Scouts

Panhandle Stage / Saturday / 12:00 pm — 12:40 pm

The shine on Wayfinder, the latest LP from Boy Scouts, has barely waned since its release earlier this month, but already, there’s a lot to love from this Oakland-based outfit. Led by songwriter Taylor Vick, Boy Scouts began as a tender bedroom project marked by sporadic and pleasing releases through Bandcamp. She’s since matured, signing to the record label Anti- and recording her 2020 album Free Company in a 20-by-9 sound-insulated shipping container somewhere in the Bay Area. With Wayfinder, Boy Scouts creates their most cohesive album that beams with Vick’s penchant for flavorful melody and sparsely delicate lyricism.


Brijean

Panhandle Stage / Saturday / 3:00 pm — 3:40 pm

Speaking to the beloved but now deceased local music blog The Bay Bridged in 2019 in what was their first-ever interview, the dance-pop duo Brijean succinctly described themselves as: “Quirky and sexy in a PG-13 way,” Brijean Murphy said. Adding that she and her partner, producer and multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart aim “to make songs that have positive mental health vibes but also sexy vibes.” Mission accomplished. The Oakland duo’s 2021 album Feelings is impossible to resist, for its grooves ring true with backroom disco netted with a steady house beat lest we forget the congas, a trademark of Brijean’s rhythm and wit.


Kehlani

Sutro Stage / Sunday / 8:20 pm — 9:20 pm

Easily the most famous Bay Area artist performing at Outside Lands this year, Kehlani brings her candid lyrics and modern R&B to close out the Sutro Stage. Her beats tend to lean towards a dark and brooding atmosphere, laying the groundwork for her confessional songwriting. Born, raised, and with all the praise for Oakland, Kehlani is a high caliber performer. She trained as a dancer at the Juilliard School, but a knee injury redirected her to songwriting. It was an unfortunate injury at the time, but as Kehlani commands the stage today, it’s proof that sometimes pain has value.

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