Outside Lands Festival – 8 Things Not To Miss (FESTIVAL PREVIEW)

The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has established itself as a vibrant, indelible part of the North American festival circuit, pulling in major headliners every year, and with such diverse lineups that many feel it’s the premier music festival on the West Coast (unless you’re swayed by massive hipster crowds and the SoCal vibe of Coachella). This year is no different, with headliners Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys and Elton John anchoring an incredibly solid lineup that runs the gamut.

In celebration of the eighth iteration of the awesome Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, CA, here are Glide Magazine’s 8 things not to miss at OSL list.

Even though Outside Lands is sold out, you can follow along with us during the festival – be sure to follow @glidemag on Twitter and Instagram.


1. Elton John

Outside Lands always pulls one major legacy act to close the festival – in previous years, it’s been Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, etc. Even though the majority of acts at OSL are young, indie-leaning outfits, it’s always a great part of the festival to have such an established, well-loved and fairly universal performer to close the festival. It breaks down boundaries and leads to a fairly widespread feeling of love warmth from the shared experience of three days in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

This year, Elton John will close the festival, and as a pop artist who has hits for decades, his set is sure to ignite festival-goers and cause quite a few sing-alongs. No doubt, there will be plenty of people in their 20s replaying the scene in “Almost Famous” as John belts out “Tiny Dancer.”

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2. Wilco

Having just dropped a new album Star Wars for free online, Wilco’s set promises to be more exciting than most expected when buying tickets months ago. Sure, Wilco always delivers solid, festival-worthy sets that cater to both casual fans and the die-hards, but with the release of Star Wars, and the fact that they played the album from start to finish live at Pitchfork Music Festival, it could be a great introduction to the next era for the band, while really changing things up.

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3. Laura Marling

Marling recently released her fifth album in seven years (she’s only 25 years old), cementing her reputation as folk’s shining star. She avoids the cliché traps of her contemporaries Mumford & Sons (Marcus Mumford actually used to be her drummer) of big, anthemic choruses with frenetic banjo and thick harmonies. Instead, Marling drives it home with sharp, incisive lyrics, hypnotic guitar playing and a speak/singing style that makes every song feel incredibly immediate. Her newest album Short Movie is a fine example of merging larger band sounds with intimate, acoustic takes. Check out the Director’s Cut to hear her experiment further, and be sure to catch her on Saturday midday.

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4. The Barbary – Comedy & Improv Tent

Every year, Outside Lands brings some major comedic talent to its Barbary Stage. It’s a great way to round out the lineup, and this year proves to be no different. Major hard-hitters like Tig Notaro, Jen Kirkman, Pete Holmes, Andy Kindler, members of “The Daily Show” news team, the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Groundlings, and many, many more will no doubt make you laugh your face off and get a nice break from all the amazing music, food, beer, wine, chocolate, and everything else that OSL has to offer. The lines can be long for the Barbary, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

5. GIVERS

It’s been a while since GIVERS, the amazing indie pop band out of Lafayette, Louisiana put out a record. Their debut effort In Light came out in 2011, and immediately ignited crowds across the country with its buoyant, ebullient, shimmering sounds. Many of the album’s tracks pleasantly recalled Paul Simon’s Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints albums, but with a raucous twist. This year, GIVERS performed quite a few new tracks at the Eaux Claires Music Festival, all of which demonstrated that there’s still a lot to hear from the band, and that it’s definitely worth the wait for their next offering.

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6. GastroMagic

Part of the Outside Lands experience is all of the ridiculously good food, wine and beer that are available for festivalgoers. All food vendors are local SF/Bay Area-based restaurants that bring their greatest hits to the hungry masses, with places like 4505 Meats, Curry Up Now, Little Skillet, Proposition Kitchen, Sightglass, Tacolicious and many more sporting giant lines for food. GastroMagic is back this year, co-curated by ChefsFeed. It’s a place that features the intersection of innovation in food, drink, and music. Be sure to check out Big Freedia on Saturday for the “Beignets & Bounce Brunch” and Sunday’s “Mac Sabbath.”

7. ChocoLands

Outside Lands makes great use of the natural surroundings of Golden Gate Park, and one of the most exciting of those features is the woods in between the Polo Field and the Sutro and Twin Peaks stages.  A couple years ago, Jack White gave an incredible impromptu, unplugged performance in the woods, right in front of his Third Man Records van. There’s also the Digital Detox space, where people can turn off their cell phones and all other devices and enjoy the bliss of being in the present. But one of the best parts of these woods? ChocoLands! It’s a small grove of 6 stands, all serving magical chocolate treats, like chocolate peanut butter cups, gourmet crème brulées, caramel corn and s’mores. For the sweet tooth, it’s a must-have.

8. Kendrick Lamar

Outside Lands usually has a good number of hip-hop and rap acts included in the lineup, and this year is no different. Saturday hosts one of the expected highlights of the weekend – Kendrick Lamar. For those who are a little than enthused by The Black Keys, or just want to dance at the Twin Peaks stage, be sure to check out Lamar’s fusion of hip hop, funk and jazz, with some of the most wickedly sharp and insightful lyrics on the radio today.

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