August in San Francisco is the traditionally the foggiest time of year where the weather is brisk and the nights can get chilly. It’s also the time of year when Golden Gate Park transforms into the location of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, now in its eleventh year. This year’s lineup stands out for bringing in two female headliners in the legendary Janet Jackson along with Florence + the Machine, as The Weeknd headlines the first day. Festival attendees will get its first look at a new experience this year in Grass Lands that will showcase a brand new curated cannabis experience and education. Grass Lands will not offer cannabis or cannabis products at the festival, but will actualize as a town square featuring The Greenhouse with “budtenders” providing education. Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly who are co-producers of Outside Lands stated, “With recreational marijuana now legal in California, there is so much to discover. We are excited to be the first major festival in the country to offer attendees the chance to learn about the latest in cannabis development.” The Bay Area’s unique culinary offerings only found in the Bay Area will be on display with over 80 local restaurants represented through the various vendors and the returning Gastro Magic stage, which features numerous musicians, celebrities and chefs. The comedy area, The Barbary returns as well, as co-curated by SF Sketchfest features Bill Nye, Mickey Hart & Friends and the highly anticipated pairing of politician(and former San Francisco Mayor) Gavin Newsom and John Battelle.
Musically, the festival has many acts to look forward to fill up the days, including many that have been featured on B-Sides before their growing profiles, including Cuco, Quinn XCII, BøRNS, Chromeo, The Growlers and others. Following are our top 12 recommendations of acts to check out at Outside Lands 2018 and plan your weekend accordingly!
Day one highlights include Mikky Ekko, Lucy Dacus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Odesza and N.E.R.D. along with upstart artists for 2018 Billie Eilish, Rex Orange County and Lauv. It won’t be long until Odesza moves up to headlining status, but in the meantime, the Seattle-based duo continue to grow their fanbase, as they’ve played to sold out arenas throughout the U.S. Definitely make time to check out the latter three as their profile has grown throughout the year and garnered a strong following and numerous sold out shows. Billie Eilish is a 15 year-old artist who gained initial attention with her debut single, “Ocean Eyes” that she released on Soundcloud in 2015 and has catapulted onto numerous music fans’ playlists with “&burn”, a collaboration with Vince Staples. Rex Orange County is the stage name for U.K. artist, Alexander O’Connor, whose track “Loving Is Easy”(feat. Benny Sings) has been in heavy rotation on commercial alternative rock radio and is on his first U.S. tour. Lauv has impacted the pop realm with the track “I Like Me Better” while he also has collaborated with Demi Lovato, DJ Snake and toured with Ed Sheehan.
Day two is highlighted by Future, CHVRCHES, Illenium and Bon Iver, as well as buzz-worthy artists Lizzo, Cuco, and Pale Waves. Outside Lands marks the return to the Bay Area for CHVRCHES after a two year absence, while Illenium makes a triumphant appearance at his first Outside Lands in his native San Francisco. Lizzo has thrilled music fans for the last year or so and has seen her profile grow, highlighting body inclusivity and individuality. The hip-hop/pop artist has collaborated with the likes of Bastille and Prince, the latter who she attributes much of her growth from working as a musician to an artist. Cuco (previously featured on B-Sides) started making music as a bedroom producer and has garnered a growing young fanbase, who can recite every lyric to his brand of dream pop songs and bring a fervor to his live shows. Anyone associated with The 1975 get immediate consideration amongst their fanbase and as such, Pale Waves, who Matty Healy of The 1975 has worked and toured with, has been able to use the exposure to build a strong and loyal fanbase in their own right. The band’s dark pop has struck a chord with an audience inspired by Pale Waves’ lead singer/songwriter Heather Baron-Gracie style and lyrics.
The final day of Outside Lands showcases festival veterans who are known to get the crowds going, including Chromeo, BøRNS, DJ Snake and The Internet. Working as a duo for over ten years, Canada’s pride and joy, Chromeo continue to evolve while remaining relevant and true to their brand of electronic music. This year will mark their fourth time playing Outside Lands, providing them the opportunity to bring in new fans to an existing loyal fanbase. Newer artists to check out should definitely include Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers and Sabrina Claudio. Rainbow Kitten Surprise have entertained fans with their engaging live performances for years and released their major label debut, How to: Friend, Love, Freefall this past April. Their brand of music ranges from folk to hip-hop and indie rock that have enabled the North Carolina-based band to sell out numerous headlining shows. Hobo Johnson is one of those buzzy names that music fans have been sharing online amongst each other, making for organic growth for the young hip-hop artist, hailing from nearby Sacramento. After making a big impression with YouTube covers of various artists ranging from Beyoncé and Willow Smith, Claudio built a loyal online fanbase that has translated to her original music, where she recently collaborated with Khalid, Daniel Casear and 6black.
The House by Heineken is a must that should be included during the exploration of Outside Lands, where Wolfgang Gartner, Little Boots, Luxxury and others will be featured along with a surprise yet-to-be-announced artist to perform. With lots of offerings musically, Outside Lands is well-balanced with numerous areas to explore including Wine-Lands that features over 40+ wineries, Choco-Lands, Bubble Tea Party, Beer Lands and other areas to take a break.