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8/15/18

BY RANYA KHOURY

San Francisco’s Outside Lands wrapped up yet another year at the iconic Golden Gate Park a few days ago, bringing a certain aura to the city. It’s no doubt that the festival expected to bring in large crowds with headliners like The WeekndFlorence + the Machine and Janet Jackson, but has OSL become too large for its current location? Flashbacks of Coachella came flooding back to me during an attempt to maneuver from one stage to another. Despite the overflowing crowds, however, Outside Lands continues to live up to its reputation of bringing people together for good music and food that's arguably even better.


The chill-factor, which applies to both temperature and people, presented itself right from the get-go. Upon entering the festival, I was approached by several SF residents selling pre-rolls and “hand-crafted” joints by request—an authentic feel, if you will. The festival, known for its easygoing vibe, introduced a new addition, Grasslands—a center for cannabis users. That said, I was a little taken aback when I learned you weren’t allowed to light up. 

As far as the performances go, there was one band that OSL attendees could not stop talking about, including me. The Saturday night headliner, Republic's Florence + the Machine, came prepared with a dream-like stage setup. Added wooden panels made things feel less clinical. Those, combined with the simple-yet-dramatic lighting and gauzy white curtains that flowed like sails, really helped create a backdrop similar to what I suspect heaven looks like. Florence Welch delivered infectious energy that resonated with the whole crowd. When she tells you to turn to your neighbor and tell them you love them, you do it.

Other favorites included The Weeknd, who dazzled with his smoky and extremely raw performance. A stripped-down set really allowed him to emphasize his strong vocals. Odesza (pictured left), on the other hand, pried eyes open with mind-blowing visuals. They closed out their set with a backdrop of a jaw-dropping sunset. It would be tough to duplicate that moment; well, at least without help from hallucinogens. 

Dermot Kennedy, debuted a new track that was produced by Malay, an L.A. native who’s worked with artists such as Frank Ocean and ZAYN. Singer/songwriter Kennedy pointed out that, “[He] was able to jump into the track as a brand new idea and just go with it”—an approach he's struggled to follow in the past. 

On the flip side, Squaaash Club's GoldLink cancelled his set due to travel circumstances, but was covered by SF’s own Berner. And The Internet’s set was delayed after a failed-attempt to fix an issue with Syd’s mic. After waiting more than 30 minutes, I exhaustively gave up and made my way to Portugal. The Man, whose curtain read, “Fuck rock critics, you can kiss my whole asshole.” I'd give that one a 10/10 for creativity and boldness, but I'd like to refrain from puckering up.

Overall, my experience with OSL this year was unlike any other. Plus, I got 61k steps in. That means I'm basically a pro athlete now, right?