Halloween in San Francisco was one for the record books this year! After being postponed two years in a row (and then rescheduled for Halloween weekend), the beloved Outside Lands Music Festival returned to Golden Gate Park for its usual three-day event, starting Friday Oct 29th and ending on Halloween night. Headliners included The Strokes on Friday, Lizzo on Saturday and Tame Impala on Sunday. With over six stages, 85+ local artisan food vendors, 100+ different wines at Wine Lands, 30 different breweries at Beer Lands, 40 art vendors at the West Coast Craft tent and even cannabis products at the newfound Grass Lands (for those 21+), there truly was something for everybody and lots to do throughout the three days.
One benefit of the festival happening over Halloween weekend was seeing all the costumes.
Concert-goers — and even some of the musical acts — got into the Halloween spirit by dressing up! A popular theme I saw throughout the weekend was from the Netflix hit Squid Game. For Lizzo’s headlining performance on Saturday, her dancers all came out in the red Squid Game costume and did the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. Then, on Sunday for Tame Impala’s headlining performance, an audio intro announced that Tame Impala could not make the set, because they were eliminated in the squid game; instead, The Wiggles would be performing. It appeared that The Wiggles did actually walk out onstage, but it was actually Tame Impala dressed as The Wiggles for Halloween. The crowd went wild. Other notable bands that dressed up were Caroline Polachek as Marie Antoinette, Rico Nasty as Harley Quinn, Green Velvet as Mr. Incredible, Cannons as members from KISS, mxmtoon as Steve of Blues Clues, Claud as a Panda and the band A R I Z O N A dressed as Arizona Iced Tea. It was so fun to see everyone in the Halloween spirit and having fun with their costumes. I hope they have Outside Lands on Halloween weekend every year!
The weather was still amazing with Karl the Fog making some appearances, bringing a little mist. Day One artists included the aforementioned headlining Strokes with Tyler, The Creator. Those who chose to go to the Twin Peaks Stage to see Tyler were treated with a dope show, including a real boat on hydraulics on which Tyler jumped around on and even fired explosions. Those who chose The Strokes were treated to a somewhat mediocre show, where lead singer Julian Casablancas interrupted the set multiple times asking if his mic was on, then if his PA was on and then asking why it was so quiet. It was a strange set to say the least and I was a little disappointed, because I love The Strokes and wish they would have come out on a high note, instead of coming out and asking why the crowd was so quiet when we were all so excited to be there and hear their set. It felt like they were mad at us… ‘us’ being the crowd. Before The Strokes went on, at The Lands End Polo Field Stage, there was a completely opposite performance by Glass Animals. They had such a fun set, with tons of energy and a lot of love for the crowd. Their stage design was unique with neon lights, a basketball hoop and a riser resembling a swimming pool that included a diving board for lead singer Dave Bayley to jump and dance around on. For their song “Tokyo Drifting”, they brought out rapper Denzel Curry for a surprise appearance, who guest featured on the song. Glass Animals had my favorite set of the weekend.
Psychedelic three-piece rock band Khruangbin had a groovy and trippy set, which felt like going back in time to the 60s. Sharon Van Etten played barefoot in a stunning silver dress and brought out Angel Olson to play their song “Like I Used To”. Other Day One Friday acts were Trevor Daniel, Moses Sumney, Kaytranada, SG Lewis, The Soul Rebels, Earthgang, JPEGMAFIA, Drama, Q, Yung Bae, Flo Milli, 070 Shake, Sofia Valdes, Bartees Strange, Amy Allen, Shilan and even San Francisco locals Remi Wolf and Madeline Kenney.
Day Two started off with some fog and sprinkles; what I thought was going to be a rainy day actually turned out to be pretty nice once the fog burnt off.
Jessia kicked things off at the main stage, with a playful pop rock sound. For fans of Avril Lavigne, I highly recommend you check Jessia out! Spanish indie rock band from Madrid, The Hinds, played next on the Lands End main stage, with more pop rock vibes. Electronic dance pop trio from New Jersey A R I Z O N A kept the party started in their Halloween costumes as Arizona tea cans. At 3pm, I made my way to the Sutro Stage and caught indie rock bands Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness and Dr. Dog. I knew I had to check these bands out, because Andrew McMahon was the main songwriter for the band Jack’s Mannequin, who sounded familiar to me, and Dr. Dog is a band I remember seeing play the smaller Panhandle Stage back in 2012 (where I’ve been hooked ever since). Also, Dr. Dog announced this would be their last tour, so I knew I could not miss them. Luckily, in between these two sets, I was able to catch the tail end of Melanie Martinez’s set at the Lands End Stage and talk about a theatrical performer! It looked like The Nutcracker was on tour, with what looked like an elaborate ballet being performed on stage. From what I saw, not only were the dances elaborate and detailed, the outfits were beautiful.
Later that evening, Vampire Weekend played an exciting set, with everyone dancing to their catchy guitar licks. They said something that really stood out to me: they thanked the crowd for a great night, being their one and only concert for the year. That said, it was a very special moment, which made me step back and think about how much things have changed or have been affected by COVID-19 and to be thankful and present for the moment. Next up, to close out a great night, was none other than Lizzo! From the very beginning, she had the crowd going crazy and singing along to her every word. Other artists that played Saturday were Lord Huron, ZHU, The Midnight, Reggie Watts, 24kGolden, Bakar, Angel Olsen, Shiba San, Young Thug, Rico Nasty, Marc E. Bassy, Brijean, Dijon, Noga Erez, Nap Eyes, Rexx Life Raj, Post Animal and Boy Scouts.
The third and final day was Halloween and it was time to get spooky! I wouldn’t say there were necessarily less or more costumes on Halloween, as costumes seemed pretty consistent throughout the weekend, which was great. Starting off the day was Neal Francis followed by Neil Frances on the Panhandle Stage. Multiple jokes were made about the coincidence and it ended up being a really fun time bringing the two Neil/Neal’s together. Another great opening act was Claud, who is newly signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory Records and one to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, after the duel of the Neil’s, Cannons brought the house down at the Lands End Stage, dressed as members of KISS. Following that was early 2000s US Billboard chart topper Nelly, who brought the heat singing all the hits packaged with major nostalgia. Next up, before headliners Tame Impala, were Yves Tumor and Its Band, mxmtoon, Green Velvet (who replaced Scarypoolparty), Brittany Howard, Troyboi, Boy Pablo, J.Phlip, Burna Boy, Sofi Tukker and Nicola Cruz. RUFUS DU SOL played on the Lands End Stage before Tame Impala, with their new hit song “On My Knees”. With the end of the festival looming, it was a very fitting song before going back to the real world, again reminding me to enjoy the moment.
Finally, last but not least, was the mighty Tame Impala. As mentioned earlier, things started really playful with the Squid Game/Wiggles opening, but then, things got to business. With lasers and trippy visuals, a Tame Impala show is really an experience, combining the visuals with the music. Other artists that played on Sunday were J. Balvin, Kehlani, Goth Babe, Cam, Caroline Polachek, Petey and Resistance Revival Chorus. I truly can’t wait till next year!