Outside Lands Has Always Been Fun, But It’s Now Only Inches Away From Falling Off
This article was originally published on Respect My Region
The mist hovering over Golden Gate Park has a looming presence for most of the year. For a brief moment in August, however, it transforms into an aura contrary to the edging inconvenience it is often identified as. Witnessing the music and purple lights piercing through the drizzly, summer haze makes Outside Lands one of the most inimitable destinations in the country, and San Francisco deserves every bit of credit for it just by virtue of its perpetual dreaminess.
The annual gathering has always been an astounding spectacle, even if the lineup isn’t to your liking. This was the case with OSL ’23 as well, except the festival’s shortcomings are now becoming more and more apparent each time around. This year, more than ever before, was the closest it has ever been to simply not being enjoyable anymore.
Approximately 75,000 people showed up on each day, which, for patrons of things creative, is a colossal victory. The problem is that the event in question is fenced off and constrained by strict security, at least as far as access goes. If you had a pass, though, smuggling contraband into the festival grounds was no problem at all. This was great news for the countless attendees bringing in whatever medicine helped make DJ Diesel tolerable, but that same leniency could just as easily have resulted in a safety hazard if people were to smuggle in things that could trigger an overpopulated crowd to take flight.
A New Contender for Top Non-Musical Attraction at Outside Lands
It’s because of the heavy foot traffic that Outside Lands now offers another music-adjacent enterprise. A byproduct of Beer Lands and Grass Lands, Piss Lands was born of drunk and high people stumbling into the bushes to relieve themselves because no one should have to wait forty minutes in a bathroom line — that’s how long most sets last!
By Day Three, half of Golden Gate Park was as soaked in urine as it was from the moisture hovering over and slowly descending upon the soil. It’s incredible to see how a full bladder brings people as close together as a Kendrick Lamar concert. If you wandered into the shrubs or behind the stalls or pretty much into any corner of the venue, you’d find men, women, ticketholders and staff members all peeing in harmony.
What that represents is open to interpretation, but it was brought about by a deficiency that isn’t impossible to solve.
The Product Remains Intact
As for the music, there isn’t much to say except that everyone played their parts. How good the lineup was depends entirely on you, but those summoned to take the stage showed up and followed through on their promises.
Lana Del Rey — and this much was clear before Outside Lands even began — was quite possibly the best thing to happen to the Bay Area all weekend. Megan Thee Stallion and Janelle Monáe, on slightly different wavelengths, were a close second for remaining consistent in their track records of putting on exhibitions that piss off all the right people. Maggie Rodgers is still going strong on her quest to make cringe cool, and she’s succeeding tremendously (as backhanded a compliment as that may be).
There were a lot of sad indie girls, but a lot of happy ones too. Who would’ve thought the City was where they’d meet halfway? Soccer Mommy, Ethel Cain and Crumb all held it down; see them once or see them five times, it’s always a delight.
This much is a no-brainer — all the lowlights from the past weekend trace back to the lads.
Father John Misty, insufferable and pompous as ever, takes his bit far too seriously every time and his set was pretty much him just doing that. Fortunately for him, M*tt He*ly and the 1975 outdid him just a day later, so the ‘Pricks of the Weekend’ award goes to boys from Cheshire. Another no-brainer.
Lil Yachty mostly shouted over his studio recordings like the majority of his peers; Kendrick and JID didn’t. If you came to party, Yachty was the move because he can move a crowd like few others in his generation, but if you came to witness hip-hop excellence, the other two shone far, far brighter.
The music was great, as was the crowd. This much hasn’t changed in the last fifteen years of Outside Lands, which alone is a reason to go back in 2024.
The only problem is that the prospects of a man-made disaster are increasing by the year and the organizers are going have to either put a cap on how many people they admit or broaden the festival margins. The congregation needs some room to breathe, and right now, there’s barely any left.
Plus there were half naked humans in puddles everywhere.