San Francisco welcomed Outside Lands back to its traditional August slot this past weekend, with a multi-genre lineup featuring more than 90 artists including Green Day, Post Malone, SZA, Jack Harlow, Weezer, Phoebe Bridgers, Illenium, Lil Uzi Vert, Kali Uchis, Disclosure, Mitski, Polo & Pan, and Rina Sawayama.
The expansive site through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park featured something for everyone. Grasslands, Beerlands, Winelands, Ecolands and Flowerlands were scattered across the whole site, and a marketplace for thrifting and shopping arts and crafts from local artisans was set up in the center of Polo Fields. Audience members could shop for clothes and explore craft beer while still hearing the entire set of whoever was playing on the main stage.
Rain earlier in the week highlighted the unpredictability of the Bay Area’s weather in August. By Friday it was blue skies and a pleasant dose of sun. Throughout all three days, San Francisco’s iconic fog (aka Karl the Fog) didn’t start rolling in until the last set, with temperatures over the weekend ranging from 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
“One of the differentiators of Outside Lands is the weather,” Superfly’s Rick Farman, who helps organize the event, told Pollstar about the festival’s return to the first weekend of August since COVID-19 reared its head. Last year, Outside Lands was pushed back to Halloween weekend in October.
“So many festivals are hot, and to a certain degree that can be uncomfortable, Farman adds. “And especially when taking the full breadth of our creatives, wine, beer, radical food from over 100 vendors – that is really best to partake of when you have a cool climate.”
Outside Lands is put on by Superfly, Another Planet Entertainment and Starr Hill Presents.
Pollstar also spoke to Allen Scott, head booker of Outside Lands and EVP for Another Planet Entertainment, who talked up the food options ahead of the event.
“If you go through and look at all the different food, it’s not like back in the day,” Scott says. “[Back then] it was just pizza, burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches. We have so many different cuisines from so many different cultures, and I can’t wait.”
With so many vendors – including an impressive 55 vegan options! – it would have been impossible to try them all. But try a good amount, we did. From vegan crabcakes (a highlight of the weekend) to vegan ice cream tacos, the variety of options was plentiful. Cashew queso, cookie dough, falafel wraps, a plethora of different noodle types and several donut options turned the tables so that instead of struggling to find food that was vegan, it was difficult to decide on what would be the best option.
Wahpepah’s Kitchen featured a Vegan Frybread Taco that wound up being one of the best meals of the weekend. The fried round flatbread served with pinto beans, tomatoes and lettuce tasted even more appealing than it looked. Rocko’s ice cream tacos featured a vegan option that was even better than the discontinued Choco Taco (which might be coming back). Shawarmaji’s falafel wrap loaded with tomatoes, cabbage, mint, turnipe, cucumber pickles and tahini sauce also provided a delicious treat without being too filling. Out The Dough also provided edible cookie dough topped with sprinkles and ice cream, providing the perfect desert for the end of the day. To promote sustainability, all food serving items were compostable, with few plastics sold on site to limit waste and encourage composting and recycling.
Among the music acts, Green Day was an obvious favorite. This year marked the first time the legendary band, based out of Oakland, Calif., was able to play the festival. Swaths of fans sporting Green Day shirts from various tours throughout the band’s history crowded the festival. As they took the stage, the band played a variety of hits from their vast discography, opening with “American Idiot” and closing with “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).” Twice, Billy Joe Armstrong invited audience members to the stage to sing along and play the guitar, with the frontman gifting a 10-year-old named Montgomery his guitar. As Green Day stood on the mainstage in front of the massive crowd, Armstrong recalled one of the band’s early gigs in Dolores Park, where cops shut down the gig and kept them from getting to play. But no cops shut this one down.
Duckwrth’s funk-filled set featured tracks from his 2020 album, SuperGood. His charismatic demeanor cemented him as a highlight from the weekend. After opening for Billie Eilish in March, the artist has been making his way around the festival circuit and proving himself to be a rising star. His genre-bending style fit in neatly with the Outside Lands atmosphere.
Weezer on the third day let festival-goers see two of the three acts to perform on the Hella Mega Tour featuring Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy. Rivers Cuomo went through the band’s hits and threw in covers of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Toto’s “Africa.” The set had the crowd moving and shaking to Weezer classics such as “Beverly Hills,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Island In The Sun” and “Hash Pipe,” along with a few new tracks including “Records” off the band’s album SZNZ: Summer, released on June 21.
“The Hella Mega Tour” landed at No. 3 on Pollstar‘s Year-End charts with a total gross of $67.3 million for 2021 as part of the live industry’s Great Return. Outside Lands’ return to August was another reminder of how grateful fans and the industry are to see tours and festivals back on stage, enriching our lives.