The Sun Actually Does Come Out in San Francisco

With Outside Lands approaching, and this being my eighth year, I wanted to highlight one of the most valuable years in recent OSL history: 2021: Halloween edition. 

After long, treacherous months of agony, trauma and hopelessness during the pandemic, I wholeheartedly question whether music festivals were ever going to fulfill our souls again. It was a dark time, but I don’t need to go into it for you to understand the buzz I’m feeling as I write this. 

But that summer, the heavens above answered all of our prayers with the announcement of the Outside Lands lineup, just pushed back a few months on a familiar holiday weekend, Halloween. 

There were two unpredictable factors here. One, that it was pushed months away so anything could happen with the pandemic, for better or for worse. Second, it was Halloween. A foggy, and potentially very cold weekend for San Francisco. Everyone was turning heads looking at one another, questioning what we could actually rely on. The truth is, we were all ready for anything. My heart and comfort lies in the trust I have with Superfly’s production. Like always, they didn’t disappoint. 

I went back to school for a pandemic to school for a pandemic-constrained semester, where everyone on campus forgot each others’ familiar smiles, taking bi-weekly COVID-19 tests, and getting suspended from school for trying to sneak into our best friends’ houses. What kept me going was knowing I had a flight home for a whole seven days dedicated to the only getaway that mattered. 

It is pretty strange to think back and realize that we defied societal boundaries to collectively attend a music festival where bodies are rubbing up on bodies, sharing joints, and kissing our neighbors. I was most definitely nervous, but San Francisco has always been pretty fantastic at caring for one another and making sure most of us are safe and comfortable in the most respectful manner. 

The first thing I noticed when getting to the festival was that I was the youngest one there. I’ve been going since middle school, and for a good chunk of the attendee population, is an end-of-summer celebration for students. But this time, Golden Gate Park became millennial territory. I assume it’s because kids were in school, and either they didn’t make the wild decision to fly back home like me, or high schoolers’ parents just laughed in their faces after asking. I guess the millennial and I were on the same page. Perhaps not the smartest, finally vaccinated, we had the boost of ignorance and ego of thinking we can take on anything in the world for live music. It’s funny to think back on how ridiculous we convince ourselves to be for the craving of joy. 

It still gives me chills to think about the lineup and who came out for that wacky year. Here’ the rundown of who I got to see: The Strokes, (I wish, but I didn’t see Tyler, the Creator because I’ve seen him enough times before and he was at the same time as both Kaytra and The Strokes) Kaytranada, Khruangbin, Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, Zhu, Rico Nasty, Dr. Dog, Rüfüs Du Sol, Burna Boy, Goth Babe, and most importantly, Tame Impala. But I’ll discuss that in a bit. 

I mean, the set-up was insane. The most potent smell of Eucalyptus that I’ve smelt in all my years there because of the cool, moist soil. The first day was surprisingly boiling. And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, was dressed up. Artists too. I didn’t wear a costume on the first day because I wanted to see how that would play out, and I immediately regretted it. So the second day, my best friends and I dressed up as Hannah Montana, Lola Luftnagle and Mike Standley III (AKA Miley, Lilly and Oliver’s alter ego’s). Too Gen Z for you? Well, we were a hit. Sunday I got my Edna Mode on. “I Never look back darling,” we say. Hah. 

You can guess which is which

There is so much value in switching up a festival date. It overtime becomes routine, where BottleRock kicks off the Bay Area festival season and Outside Lands closes it out. And year after year, we plan around those dates. But now, Outside Lands spontaneously became the “you’re getting through this absurd Fall. Go you! Dance yourself clean. You got this!” An unexpectedly refreshing and much needed moment in time. 

People were hungry for new momentary connections, I know I was. I don’t consider OSL the most outreaching social culture, and I think that’s due to how the Bay Area typically is, as well as the fact that we’re not wooked out camping all weekend long. Everyone is extremely loving and friendly, but meeting new friends and spending the rest of the weekend with them is not standard. However, this year felt extremely different, where the side chats and banter with strangers turned out to be loving in-depth conversations about how important it is that we were all there together. 

Festival goer or better known as IGOR

A R I Z O N A playing the role of Arizona iced tea 

The weekend was beautiful. Sunshiney days, and cool, chilly nights. I drunkenly bought a GOLD fleece from Tyler’s pop-up that I will never ever regret. The music was wonderful, charismatic, and optimistic. The energy was playful, nervous, but relieved. And now, I will share my last set of the weekend which was my first ever Tame Impala experience. 

Everyone, I mean everyone was there. My friend and I sprinted from Burna Boy over to Tame. There was a lot of running back-and-forth that weekend, but we had a good run of success and got to where we needed to be. We landed far back, in the middle of the crowd, but right by the second round of speakers with a clear shot of center stage. Just to set the scene. If you don’t already know about Tame Impala’s set that year, I’m pretty speechless to describe it, so I’ll link it here. Transcendence and a wild effing journey. 

Here is the trippiest opening ever

And my favorite set: “Let it Happen”

I ended the night completely mesmerized by the weekend. I was mesmerized by the final performance, but I was more mesmerized by the flexible shape shifting capabilities of Outside Lands. I know this year has some new additions and variations, and oh boy am I ready. 

*All photos that do not include myself are courtesy of Alive Coverage

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