Outside Lands 2023: Day Two

Day two kicked off with Bay Area synth-pop-indie-rock sensation, Mike Deni better known as Geographer, who played back to back sets while admittedly under the weather. There’s something very rock n roll about Geographer’s show must go on mentality. We caught his second performance at the Music Den presented by Toyota. Deni’s infectious personality, and uncanny way of transforming his live performances into an intimate campfire sing along, pulled us right in. His setlist was a meticulously curated choose your own adventure, as he polled the audience between each song. We all inched closer as he stoked the lyrical fire that is Geographer.

Perfect way to start the day.

WIne Lands’ newest sibling, Cocktail Lands, showcased the area’s best mixologists and a rainbow of whimsical cocktails served by themed bars. Cocktail Lands played host to a variety of pop up parties featuring some surprise performances by national acts like Cut Chemist. We rushed over to catch Oakland’s own Smoked Out Soul (S.O.S.) who melted our faces by blurring the lines between DJ and live band. The brainchild of Zebuel, who’s known for his soulful blend of 70’s funk and southern trap beats, is now a full blown headlining band featuring a mix of the bay area’s best musicians and producers. Smoked Out Soul hands down earned my 2023 Outside Lands “Best Kept Secret” award with their encore rendition of War’s “Low Rider.” S.O.S.’s horn section put on a battle of brass of epic proportions, escalating with all three players kneeling on the ground while Zebuel twirled a towel and the flash mob crowd raved uncontrollably. Personal favorite moment of day two.  

On our way to explore Grass Lands, OSLs’ world of cannabis, we popped back over the Music Den to catch nu-disco chillwave superstar, Jeffrey Paradise aka Poolside for his DJ set. Paradise produces a unique version of nu-disco, which he refers to as daytime disco, a style known for relaxed beats, high vocals, a wash of smooth electronics, and overall lounge sound. His set kicked off with a vibey version of “Shakedown Street” appropriately paying homage to the Bay Area’s musical godfathers, The Grateful Dead. “Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart, you just gotta poke around.” 

Grass Lands, the first of its kind music festival cannabis world, turned five this year and Weed Maps spared no expense showcasing the region’s world class growers, dispensaries, and trending products. Whether you’re an analog dog who prides themself on the traditional plant roots of cannabis, or you’re a new age digital cat who knows a little dab will do, there was something for you. Dozens of vendors lined the Grass Lands campus giving festival goers all access passes to Mary Jane’s last dance, and a safe place to elevate your festival experience. For the sake of science we followed suit.

Vibes were high (so were we), as we sauntered over to Lands End. 

Nothing pairs with a smoke and a pancake better than the sultry wit of Father John Misty and his band of misfit hipsters. Joshua Michael Tillman, fondly referred to as Father John Misty, is known for his unfettered satirical storytelling. What he’s less known for is being the original drummer on the Fleet Foxes freshman and sophomore records before earning his solo daddy status. This lyrical giant has so much charisma we’d suggest hiding you kids and hiding your wives. Tillman’s remarkable stage presence blends the swagger of Mick Jagger, suaveness of Frank Sanatra, and humor of Robert Downey Jr. Quite the trifecta.

Hard to put in words the amount of pride I felt as Maggie Rogers took the stage for a sold out crowd at Outside Lands. Growing up on the coast of rural Maryland, in the same neighborhood as Maggie, I’ve been following her career skyrocket from her viral video with Pharell WIlliams at NYU to her sold out stadium tours. There’s nothing quite like moving across the continent and seeing a hometown diva blow the roof off of a sold out crowd chanting her every whim. She’s evolved graciously like a fine wine becoming ever more complex and robust over time. Icy streams in Alaska weren’t the only thing to take our breath away on day two. 

A Shaq sized crowd poured over to the Sutro stage to catch French sensation L’Imperatrice. The eccentric, stylized disco of French alternative dance group L’Impératrice is the brainchild of keyboardist/composer Charles de Boisseguin. Paris’ nu-disco super band was a sight to be seen as every square inch of Lindley Meadow was filled with the weekend’s best dance party. 

So, the Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey and Fisher walk into a bar…and by bar I mean competing headlining sets. Quite the decision for any/all festival attendees on day two.  As the night illuminated with the glow of a sea of cell phones imitating lighters of times past, we fist pumped our way down nostalgic blvd to catch Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters for a very special two hour set. Wild to think the Grohl’s Foo Fighter project, founded in 1994, has surpassed so many of Nirvana’s milestones. 29 years later this supergroup is still releasing new music and pushing the rock envelope. The passing of founding drummer, Taylor Hawkins, paved the way for music industry titian, Josh Freese (NIN, Guns N’ Roses, Weezer, Offspring, Sublime with Rome, and Michael Bublé — to name a few), to join the already iconic group. Grohl introduced Freeze to the sold out crowd in hilarious fashion. Grohl “Josh Freese needs no introduction. He’s played on every rock album worth a damn. Hell, he even played drums on Michael Bublé’s studio albums.” The crowd erupted in laughter. “Anyone know the lyrics?” as they teased an instrumental version of “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Bublé. The jumbotron cameras zoomed in on a wily audience member holding a sign, whom Grohl invited up to guest perform.

To all of our surprise it was actually Michael Bublé.

Grohl continued “this is by far our most expensive prank we’ve ever pulled off. We flew Micheal in from Venezuela to perform this gag for you.” Fans were treated to 120 minutes of uninterrupted pure rock bliss as the Foo Fighters took us on an all inclusive trip down memory lane. Foo Fans will be happy to know there is no stop in sight, as Dave introduced several new tracks featuring his eldest daughter Violet Grohl. Keep an eye out for new music coming from the Foo camp this year. This was the figurative cherry on top of a magical day in Golden Gate Park. 

The only thing between us and day three were street tacos being served out of the DJ booth off Fulton.

Article by Austin Widdowson | Photography by Jenna Shaw

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