Lily Tenner is the Mustang News Photo Editor and attended Outside Lands 2023. This story is cross-published on Mustangnews.net.
One could say that Karl — the infamous fog of San Francisco that has 275,000 Instagram followers — was the first headliner of the Outside Lands (OSL) music festival that took place on Aug. 11-13. As he made his way across Golden Gate Park, he towered over attendees and made friends with the Monterey cypress trees that graced the festival grounds. His company was enjoyed by some and unwelcomed by others.
But Karl’s presence over the course of those three days didn’t stand in the way of a great time. Music lovers worldwide still came together to experience the sights and sounds of the Bay Area and watch performances from headliners Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey, The 1975, Megan Thee Stallion and many more at OSL’s 15th anniversary.
The weekend was overcast, but rays of sunshine illuminated the crowd as Raveena took the spotlight. She set the tone for the weekend by immediately lighting incense.
Her stage was adorned with beautiful pieces of artwork, plants and plush cushions. She exuded an aura of entering a dreamscape. I can only imagine that those close enough to the stage to smell the incense would agree. Raveena’s calming presence and her sweet, soulful voice sang out hits from her 2020 EP “Moonstone.”
After Raveena’s performance, I made my way over to the Sutro stage to catch the psychedelic indie rock band, Crumb. My friends and I laid our blankets on the grass area and devoured our pad Thai tofu bowls and tofu Thai tater tots from the Kitiya booth.
As Crumb finished their set featuring their new songs “Crushxd” and “Dust Bunny,” we realized the day had only just begun. We hurried back to the Lands End stage to see JID, Janelle Monae and Kendrick Lamar.
The rap luminary JID reminded the crowd numerous times throughout his performance that Aug. 11 is Hip-Hop Celebration Day. Whether this was a coincidence or not, Lands End’s remaining performances featured exclusively rap and hip-hop artists. JID rapped his hit songs from one of his first albums “Dicaprio,” and in honor of the holiday, covered a range of artists spanning from Dreamville Records to Mos Def.
My friends and I continued our first day at Outside Lands by watching a vibrant and energetic performance from Janelle Monae, featuring her signature vagina pants. She captivatingly played her hits with a full band, which included an animated horn section and enthusiastic backup dancers.
The stage then welcomed the 17-time Grammy award winner and headliner Kendrick Lamar. He headlined Outside Lands once before in 2015, with Elton John and The Black Keys, and came back this year better than ever.
Lamar performed every crowd pleaser from “Element” and “King Kunta” to “Money Trees” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” He concluded his performance surrounded by his apron-wearing backup dancers, meticulously delivering songs “LOVE,” “Alright” and “Savior.”
I commenced day two with an unforeseen journey to Grass Lands, the 21+ cannabis haven presented by Weedmaps and tucked away near the south side of the Polo Field.
Various name-brand cannabis companies had booths lined up, offering free samples and exclusive deals including custom-engraved PAX weed vapes and samples from the latest Ooka devices. The Total Meltdown grilled cheese pop-up was ready to satisfy the Grass Lands-goers’ inevitable munchies.
I then made my way to the Sutro stage, where the exceptional up-and-coming rap artist Zach Fox delivered a captivating set. From his flow to his witty and sarcastic jokes, Zach Fox’s talent was undeniable.
The trajectory for my second day took a mellow turn when I discovered the indie folk world of Outside Lands. My friends and I continued on our journey back to the Lands End stage to listen to Father John Misty tell us we can call him Nancy, and Maggie Rogers sing her gut-wrenchingly beautiful love songs. After dancing and huddling for warmth under the fog, we desperately needed a warm treat before Lana Del Rey performed at the Twin Peaks stage.
We stumbled upon the perfectly placed Flower Lands near the Twin Peaks stage. Flower Lands allowed us to take a break from the 225,000-person crowd and tap into our creative side. As Bob the Drag Queen held a twerking contest nearby at the Panhandle stage, we sipped on samples of rosebud tea while making our custom boutonnieres.
We left with flowers in our hair, ready to be soothed by Lana Del Rey’s vocals. She began her set with her new single “A&W” and ended the night by lounging on an ethereal swing. Her vocals were smooth, and her stage presence was effortlessly beautiful.
Following days of technical difficulties, the Soma Tent was ready for attendees. DJs Coco and Breezy channeled a fantastic energy into their electronic set and provided the perfect music to dance to as attendees grabbed Dole Whip from FroGo.
My friends and I ended our Soma Tent experience with a surprise set from Kyrptogram. He skillfully transformed the festival vibe into a club-like atmosphere.
On our last day of the festival, we explored the VIP area. What felt like a modern bohemian restaurant was actually the VIP dining area. We immediately grabbed pizzas from A16, a booth with a fully loaded pizza oven. Following our Italian feast, we rushed back to the stage for the final performances at Lands End: Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion and Odesza.
Megan Thee Stallion, the three-time Grammy award winner and 2019 Billboard Women in Music winner, brought the hottest of attitudes to the Outside Lands stage. Megan’s uninterrupted rap and mesmerizing dance moves captivated the crowd. Her constant affirmations and emphasis on creating an inclusive environment made her performance even more enjoyable.
Last to perform at the 2024 Outside Lands weekend was the iconic duo Odesza. Multi-instrumentalists and DJs Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, known individually as Catacombkid and BeachesBeaches, make up this forever classic electronic duo.
Odesza’s set featured songs from their new album in collaboration with indie artist Yellow House and a drum lineup, trumpet players and guest singer Izzy Bizu.
Odesza’s encapsulation of the glorious feelings of youth and bliss in their songs was reflected in the beautiful visuals on stage. The duo stood underneath laser beams and colorful lights, as well as 3D images of robot-like creatures wandering through lush landscapes, transporting listeners into another dimension as the festival came to a close.