Best Music Sets at Outside Lands 2021: Every Band & Every Performance


Lizzo Headliner Set | Steve Jennings / WireImage / Getty Images

Lizzo Headliner Set | Steve Jennings / WireImage / Getty Images

There are a lot of music festivals, and if you are a music fan that follows the festival circuit, most of them start to look the same after a while. San Francisco’s large resident music festival Outside Lands (which happens to be the largest independent festival in the country) does tend to stand out, however – and this year has felt very special. He saw the return of the biggest live music event in the Bay Area since the start of the pandemic – walking through the crowds you inevitably ran into at least one person shouting something like, “Holy shit, it makes so it’s good to be back “—and it was absolutely an unforgettable Halloween weekend.

Although I was only able to go on the Friday and Saturday of the festival, I can honestly say it was one of the coolest and biggest festivals I have ever attended (and I have been to a parcel, of the Governors’ Ball in Lollapalooza). The festival grounds are so gorgeous it’s almost overwhelming considering you’re basically in the middle of the woods and surrounded by canopy trees, which made the festival’s Halloween theme featuring Alice in Wonderland– and the haunted house-inspired production is even more festive. (The fog emerging from the coast also helped create some spooky vibes.) And, of course, the incredible curated lineup (which perhaps gets the title of being the most exciting of the 2021 festival season) did the weekend. From headlining Lizzo to a roster of rising stars, these are the best things I’ve seen in Outside Lands 2021.

lizzo out of the land 2021, lizzo on show
Lizzo | Steve Jennings / WireImage / Getty Images

Lizzo made his headliner as fun as possible

Headlining is no easy task. While there is undoubtedly a part of the crowd that are huge fans and got tickets in part to see you, you can expect another part to know your music only a little. , if at all. You have to be able to cater to the whole audience, which pop / hip-hop artist Lizzo has recognized, which makes her Saturday night set as fun as it gets. She and her dancers emerged on stage to the sound of heavy metal guitars before opening with her recent single “Rumors”. Just as she shouts “Blacks made rock and roll” on the track, it was as if she was paying homage to black rock artists who came before her, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe of whom she is known to be a fan and his mentor, Prince. Then, with her hits like “Tempo”, she made everyone dance by declaring: “If you don’t have an ass, you have ass tonight” and by leading the crowd by singing “I have ass. ! There were lots of fireworks, abandon twerking, a Halloween dance break on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in which Lizzo reappeared on stage dressed as the doll. Squid game, and she even asked the crowd to do a TikTok with her. She was legitimately having fun, so were the crowds.

Over the past few years, many festivals have moved away from legacy headlining acts and instead started reserving mainstream pop acts of the moment (like Billie Eilish or Post Malone, which have dominated nearly every event this year. year). OSL pleaded for the reservation of a beloved name whose star is still on the rise. Lizzo herself said she was surprised they asked her to be on the front page, but she shouldn’t have been. She made everyone feel “good as hell” and had a blast, which the last show of the evening should do.

vampire weekend off the land 2021, ezra koenig performing
Vampire weekend | Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

The only concert of the year at Vampire Weekend

For indie rock favorites, Vampire Weekend’s first show in 18 months, and only one of the year, they emerged on stage to the sound of “We Will Rock You,” as it moved on to their Father of the bride song “2021”. It was cheeky and witty oh-so-Vampire-Weekend, but it was such a blissful moment to see Ezra Koenig and the band again. They oscillated between interpreting songs from their 2019 album and classics from their first three records – “Sunflower” with an extended live ending that became particularly awesome “White Sky”. Shameless joy flooded the crowd upon hearing the first notes of “A-Punk”, as it was the first song on many people’s iPods in years. and it’s still impossible not to switch to these jovial rockabilly guitars. They ended with a series of first base records, from “A-Punk” to “Campus” to “Oxford Comma” to their typical closest “Walcott”, as they tossed a blown giant Father of the bride globes in the crowd. It was impossible not to feel the hold of independent rockers on so many hearts; there was a lot of serious vocals from the guitar lines, and it was as if the intro of every song, from the baroque strings of “Step” to the percussion of “Cousins”, reminded everyone how much they loved the song. group. Coming out on “We Will Rock You” might have been a joke, but it was true, they definitely did!

rico villain off the land 2021, rico villain performing
Rico Naughty | Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Embrace the crowd of emerging artists

OSL introduced himself for the rising numbers expected in the afternoon. It was exciting not only because of the palpability of the energy, but also because you could see how the young audience reacted to innovative and genre-defying artists. Remi Wolf, for example, had a 2:40 set on Friday and it was packed up-like, there were so many people that you couldn’t maneuver through the crowded crowd. It was like a homecoming show for the singer, who grew up in Palo Alto, and the crowd gave her a warm welcome, screaming as she somersaults on the stage and cheering her vibrant pop mingled with disco. , R&B and a whole lot of weirdness. Her chameleon quality showed it even more when she performed covers of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and “Electric Feel” by MGMT, which everyone sang to her.

Rico Nasty had a similar set on Saturday afternoon. The rapper who does what she calls a “sugar trap” (rapping to hardcore, splashy electro beats) had young women lined up on the barricade and spitting out her verse word for word. Dressed in a goth mall vaudevillian ensemble and joined by a pair of dancing Gizmos from Gremlins, she gave one of the most punky sets of the weekend making fun and having fun, all the while going strong and relaying her sassy bars in her signature gritty but sweet tone. At one point, she even noted how impressed she was with the crowd, saying, “You all have a lot of energy for me, wow” – though she shouldn’t be surprised at how much her pieces attract people.

This fan embrace was exciting, however, as these names are still trending and their sounds are quite different. The excitement reminded me of when I saw Billie Eilish perform on the smaller Governors Ball stage in 2018, just a year before she became a household name with the release of her debut album, and only three years old. before she headlined the same festival. Whether it’s the accessibility of the streaming age and TikTok, or Gen Z’s favoritism for things a little more eclectic, you can’t help but look forward to the sequel to their. career and other new sounds that fans might get hooked on. (Like, maybe Rico Nasty isn’t far from following Megan Thee Stallion’s path, which would be very costs.)

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Sadie Bell is the Associate Entertainment Editor at Thrillist. She is on Twitter and Instagram.


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