Day one of Outside Lands came to a close last night and surprises came all day long. We all welcomed festival mascot, Ranger Dave, as this year marked the 10th Anniversary of the festival and it deserved some celebration. Some surprises were unplanned and due to unforseen circumstances, but the performances put on by this year’s artists blew the festival-goer’s expectations way out of the water.
Not even a mile from the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Park makes for the perfect backdrop for the three-day music and arts festival. An estimated 70,000 people trickled in throughout the day and seemingly all ended up at Gorillaz’s set, who headlined at Lands End stage at the end of the night.
With green smoke oozing from the background of Lands End, they opened with “M1A1,” from their debut self-titled album Gorillaz. Promptly after the first song, Damon Albarn ran over to the railing that separated him and the crowd and stood in it to clap his hands while a security guard stood behind him and steadily held him up. Over the course of their two hour performance, they continued to bring out one surprise guest after the other, with a large portion of them from The Gorillaz’ 2017 album Humanz. Surprise features included Kali Uchis for “Shes My Collar,” Pusha-T for “Let Me Out,” De La Soul for “Momentz,” and a seriously hyped up performance of “Feel Good Inc.” Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon took the stage and sang “Empire Ants,” Anthony Hamilton for “Carnival,” and Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz for “Sex Murder Party.” The crowd and artists on stage were vibe-ing so hard, after performing “19-2000,” Damon Albarn screamed, “That was too fun we’re gunna do that again,” and continued to give an equally as energetic encore the crowd went crazy for.
The production of their set without-a-doubt had some influence in the madness that unfolded at Lands End, with colorful and sporadic lights that illuminated the stage and short clips of the animated characters we’ve come to know and love playing in the background. Towards the end of their performance, the Golden Gate Bridge that decorated the top of the main stage shined four skylights on each end, and lit up San Francisco.
While some surprises were definitely planned out during rehearsal, others came up just hours before the set was scheduled to start. Major rap group A Tribe Called Quest was supposed to perform on Friday, but had to reschedule due to unforseen travel issues. Their new time is on Saturday night in between Metallica and Foxygen.
Another big name on the Outside Lands Friday lineup included the dreamy indie folk band Fleet Foxes. Before walking on the Sutro stage, four men playing trumpets lined up side by side and played for the audience. After a minute, the members of Fleet Foxes walked onto stage and opened with “Cassius,” using different instruments such as the flute, piano, and guitar to make for an incredible sounding production. The sound was incredibly crisp, and filled the small valley that surrounded the tapestry decorated Sutro stage.
In between songs, Robin Pecknold took a moment to stop and thank the crowd for going to watch them. He then dubbed San Francisco as “one of the top cities in the world,” which prompted an enthusiastic cheer from the audience. Fleet Foxes then began to perform “Ragged Wood,” which sounded just as good or arguably even better in a live setting. Other songs on the setlist included fan favorites “Your Protector,” “He doesn’t Know Why,” and “White Winter Hymnal” from their self titled album Fleet Foxes. From their newest album Crack-Up, Fleet Foxes played “Third of May/Odaigahara,” and “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me.”
Earlier in the day, noise pop duo Sleigh Bells performed on the Twin Peaks stage near the rear of the festival grounds. On both sides of the stage was a picture of an old woman, one named Marian and one Vivian, symbolizing the mountains that surround San Francisco. Guitarist Derek Edward Miller and lead singer Alexis Krauss had incredible stage presence, and interacted with the audience constantly. Krauss couldn’t stop thanking them for their rowdiness and stopped one time to point out a dude wearing an “Old School Sleigh Bells Shirt.” They performed “Just Us Now” from their newest album Jessica Rabbit and “Infinity Guitars” and “Crown on the Ground” from their 2010 album, Treats. After turning red in the face from jumping and running around so much on stage, Krauss encouraged the audience to keep up their energy and they didn’t let her down. Once “Riot Rhythm” started playing, the entire crowd started making so much noise, the next stage over could hear the commotion. At the end of their performance, Sleigh Bells named Outside Lands “One of the best festivals played in so long.”
Tove Lo was an additional performer who had an infectious and erotic energy throughout her entire performance, playing at the main stage Lands End on Friday evening. She started off her set by running onto the stage and immediately playing “True Disaster” from her most recent album, Lady Wood. After playing fan favorite, “Talking Body,” Tove Lo faced the crowd and gave a short strip tease with her top before flashing her encouraging audience. She wasn’t quite down with the shock factor, however, and started to throw out merch to all the people who were near the front. If you went to her set not knowing who she was, you would’ve walked away with her already added to her Spotify.
Dr. Octagon, the freaky alien gynecologist persona of Kool Keith announced that he was back this weekend and proved it in a big way after killing his set at Outside Lands on the Lands End stage on Friday afternoon. His entire crew came out in surgical masks and white lab coats, creating the aesthetic of a creepy doctor. Dr. Octagon added to the feeling when he walked up with blood splattered on his white coat and hands. He performed his hit songs “3000,” “Blue Flowers,” and “Earth People,” from his solo debut album Dr. Octagonecologyst, the first album under the alias of Dr. Octagon.
On stage with him was talented producer, Dan the Automator, and he told fans how he wanted to work with Kool Keith to do Dr. Octagon back in the ’90s. Dan the Automator also announced, “We went on a little Hiatus but we’re back,” and fans went crazy knowing the upcoming album was on its way. He then took a moment to recognize DJ Qbert who was working the turn tables on stage with them, and called him “the greatest scratcher alive.” DJ Qbert proved to the Outside Lands audience why he holds the honor of that nickname, and scratched for a solid few minutes with the camera focused on his quick moving hands the entire time.
Del the Funky Homosapien also made an appearance on stage during the set, and was given a warm welcome when Dan the Automator proclaimed his friend from “3010 should do a song with the alien from 3000.” They continued to perform jacked up performances “I’m Back” and their last song was “I’m Destructive.” Before they made their final exit, Dr. Octogon plugged one last promo and hyped up anticipated fans up with one short phrase; “New album coming, watch for Pussy Hot!” The only thing missing was the mic drop.
Photo Credit, J.C. Hewlett