The 2019 Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park drew a record-breaking crowd on Saturday for Childish Gambino’s set. As he ran up up and down the aisle to his b-stage, Gambino took a few moments to pose for selfies with the crowd. Although, he basically began his set by telling folks to put their phones down. For his second to last show of his current tour, Gambino performed “Boogieman”, “The Worst Guys”, and of course “This Is America”.
Hozier commanded a huge turnout as well, performing just ahead of Gambino’s set. Security was in awe at the length of the crowd gathered at the Sutro stage for the Irish lad’s set. While Mavis Staples (a Sunday performer) did not join him on his third song “Nina Cried Power”, Hozier sang in front of an incendiary projection that included images of social activists and refugees. It made me more excited to see him when he returns to New York City for a five-night run.
The Marías did a set during Outside Lands as well as as pre-fest kick off show in the park. The group released the music video for “Ruthless” just days after the fest. Check out the video here.
Counting Crows‘ frontman Adam Duritz made some comments that could have some construed as the end of the band. He said, “We’ve always wanted to play Outside Lands. “I don’t know when we’ll see you again — or if we’ll see you again.” But even if audiences are lucky enough to hear their classics “Round Here”, “A Long December”, or “Mr. Jones” live again, it will be a while before anyone sees Duritz with dreads. He chopped off his iconic hair a few days after the fest.
Aparna Nancherla continues to prove she is one of the hardest working comedians around. She participated in two sets at Outside Lands’ Barbary Tent (alongside Rhea Butcher and Mike Birbiglia) on Saturday and sat down for a conversation with NPR’s Audie Cornish on Sunday. She’ll be one of the diverse voices participating in New American Festival in New York City in September.
It was a great pleasure to see Paul Simon perform as he 2018 was noted as the last year he would tour. But this one-off show (plus a warm up at a smaller venue on the Friday night of the fest) was in part a fundraiser — proceeds benefited Friends of the Urban Forest and the San Francisco Parks Alliance. I loved hearing “You Can Call Me Al”, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, and “The Boxer” which featured an appearance from Bob Weir — it was the first time the two had done a duet.
Leon Bridges had the second to last slot on Sunday (ahead of Simon’s) but drew a larger crowd than Simon with his boogie. The Texas gentleman dropped the funky “Bad Bad News” on the crowd but also had them singing along to ballads like “Beyond”.
Out of maybe three full sets that I caught over the weekend, one belonged to Jupiter & Okwess, a band I only learned about two weeks before at the Newport Folk Festival but knew I had to see again. The group hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo and drew a great crowd to the Panhandle stage on Sunday. The group’s lyrics are at times political but their music, a rhythmic set of ’70s funk mashed with rock and R&B, makes their performance a dance party for all.
Turkish group Altın Gün were equally impressive (and entirely new to me) the day before on the Panhandle Stage. The group’s name translates to “Golden Day” and they transform Turkish folk songs into psych-rock.
Up and comer Still Woozy (a project of Sven Gamsky’s) was a little bit of an oddball. But, as a local artist, he had a nice turnout and enjoyably engaged with the audience often. He performed songs like “Lucy”, “Wolfcat”, and “Cooks”.
Another group I caught at Newport Folk Fest, Caamp is running strong on the release of their alternative album charting-topping record By and By. The group (Taylor Meier on guitar and vocals, Evan Westfall on banjo and Matt Vinson on bass), have an extensive tour planned for the last few months of 2019. Their vibrant music sounds a bit like contemporary folk-rockers Head and the Heart at times but they do have a stronger rock core that gets audiences singing along.
I’ve seen Kacey Musgraves five times now in less than a year. I just love Golden Hour so much. And while I didn’t hear her say anything political like she had at Lollapalooza, I did try to listen to as much of her set as I could — I could hear strains of her from the Grass Lands area, probably a section she would have loved to visit.
The Sutro Stage had several house or electronic, dance-friendly acts including the dark Bob Moses, San Holo, and Yaeji.
The Gastromagic stage was pretty amazing as it was an intimate place where artists got their hands dirty (dirtier?) by working with food. Ella Mai was a bit squeamish over preparing squid to fry. CupcakKe was part of show themed around “slurpers” (also a nickname for her fans) and didn’t touch the oyster even though she was offered $100. Puddles Pity Party participated in a pita party but burst into songs (like David Bowie’s “Heroes” and Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero) after hearing the correct pronunciation of the word “gyro”. His rich baritone voice stood starkly in contrast to his silent physical comedy when doing kitchen duties.
CupcakKe‘s music is very fixated on genitals, specifically the male genitals. Her set was riotous and raunchy. I’ll let you look up her tunes but she will start her ’10k Tour’ next month where she will be giving out $10,000 to one random fan each night of the tour. Check out tickets on her site.
Blink and you’ll miss it. I was late to the photo pit for blink-182‘s set and only caught their third song. But I was glad to finally see these punk dudes live even if it was brief.
Santigold started her set pretty late as there were some technical difficulties but she took it in stride and came out to do the first song in a makeshift manner (by the second song the music was back on).