Even though flight delays meant I only had 2.5 days at Outside Lands instead of the full 3, I still saw what felt like more music than I typically do at a festival. Here are some highlights.
To be honest, I’m not really a Counting Crows fan. My friend and I spent the whole set laughing at the ridiculousness of Adam Duritz’s famous and ridiculous hair, saying it looked fake. Shortly after the festival we found out that a) he shaved his head and b) his dreads were extensions. EXTENSIONS. Stop it.
I do not understand Flying Lotus, and I cannot express my thoughts on his work more clearly than I already did in this blog post from 2 years ago. I was really excited for this set, but the same element of weirdness that made me love his performance 2 years ago just did not connect with me this time around. I still think he’s brilliant but I could not get on his wavelength at Outside Lands.
I wish I remembered how I started listening to this guy. His music is so mellow and soulful but somehow actually felt very energetic at the same time? I was so glad I made it to the festival grounds super early for his Saturday set; it was perfect for a sunny festival afternoon.
This South African duo does not disappoint. They played inside the Heineken House, an indoor stage that was basically like a mini club, complete with a long wait to get inside. But it was 100% worth the 30 minutes in line because once inside, it was surprisingly not crowded, and had this amazing setup where the DJs played on a rotating stage in the center of the room. It was so incredible to be in this environment where everyone was dancing like crazy and there were fog machines and amazing house music complete with live sax and bass.
I struggle to find words to describe this set except to say that it just felt…special. I don’t really listen to Childish Gambino and was only planning on staying for about 20 minutes, but he has this incredible stage presence that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re witnessing something truly legendary. I ended up staying for about 40 minutes, then leaving to go see RL Grime, and then after half an hour at RL Grime I had to come back to Gambino. What I will also say about him is that I’ve never seen someone with such intensity behind their eyes. Every time the camera showed a close-up of him he just looked straight up crazy like a wild animal about to attack. It was honestly terrifying but also intriguing. I spent a long time trying to find a photo of this look but failed. How he looks in the video for This Is America is a pretty accurate representation though of how he looked during the entire Outside Lands set.
Nahko and Medicine for the People
This is one of those artists that I had heard about for years and years and knew that many of my friends liked them but I had never really paid much attention. I was truly blown away by the funkiness and overall feel good attitude this set brought.
Puddles Pity Party
Oh my goodness, what a treat this was. Puddles is a super tall clown who dresses all in white and does a combo comedy routine and amazing covers of popular songs. His covers range from Celine Dion to Sia to Metallica and his antics were cracking up the entire audience of the little indoor stage where he was performing. I am so so so glad my friend suggested we go to this.
The Funk Hunters
Was this the best set of the festival? Quite possibly. These guys crush it every time and the crowd was the best of the whole weekend. Everyone was dancing like nobody was watching and it was just pure joy. My friend said she was going to join me at this set for only a few minutes before heading over to see Anderson.Paak but she ended up staying the whole time.
Much like my friend was planning on leaving the Funk Hunters for Anderson.Paak and couldn’t, I was planning on leaving Paul Simon for Kygo and could not. Even though I had seen Paul Simon live before I did not anticipate being as completely enthralled with this set as I was. The music is much more low energy compared to the other headliners, Twenty One Pilots and Childish Gambino, but it was equally incredible. It felt like the perfect close to the festival. He brought out Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead for a duet on “The Boxer” and people absolutely lost their minds.
Sets I Missed
This is a new section I’m adding to my festival recaps. It feels relevant to mention which artists I wanted to see but didn’t make it to because of conflicts or whatever other reason.
- Wax Motif – The last time I saw Wax Motif was 5 years ago at a series of parties at a Brooklyn spa where you walked in the door, they gave you flip flops and a robe, and you could alternate between dancing around in your robe and going in the hot tub. It was the strangest thing ever. I didn’t make it to the festival in time on Friday to catch Wax Motif and I don’t think it would have been the same anyway.
- Toro Y Moi – he is everywhere and nowhere. Just kidding, he’s actually everywhere and I just never see him. One day though, I will. That one day might be a week from today if I snag a ticket to Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival.
- Kygo – as mentioned, I couldn’t leave Paul Simon to go to this set. I love tropical house and didn’t really think Kygo was doing much these days until I saw him on the lineup. I do not regret skipping this. There will be other tropical house in my future.
Outside Lands was the only full festival I went to this summer, which saddens me a little bit but it was so, so wonderful. And with the recent announcement of the return of winter’s Hijinx Festival in Philadelphia, festival season is never truly over.