Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Outside Lands 2022: Phoebe Bridgers Realizes Her Dream To Play The SF Fest
Phoebe Bridgers spent a lot of her childhood in the Bay Area and attended many festivals in Golden Gate Park. Her headlining Outside Lands set Friday night was filled with emotion, anger and a whole lot of love.
Though Phoebe Bridgers grew up in Southern California, she spent a lot of her childhood in the Bay Area while visiting her grandfather, and she attended Outside Lands in San Francisco several times. She dreamed of performing at the music festival in Golden Gate Park one day.
The four-time GRAMMY nominee, 27, got her wish on Friday as she made her Outside Lands debut. She walked on stage with her beloved Danelectro 56 Baritone guitar to the sound of Disturbed’s "Down With The Sickness" as projections of pyro and other heavy metal conventions rose up behind her. Bridgers' logo, which evokes the genre, is emblazoned on the drums.
Fans packed in close to see Bridgers, but they gave each other space, with lots of couples hugging, swaying and singing along. In between songs, Bridgers' self-deprecating sense of humor emerged that brought laughs into an otherwise serious set.
"Who has the sniffles right now?" she asked, raising her hand. "Who has a complex relationship with their dad?" The crowd roared. "That’s cool," she replied, launching into "Kyoto," a nominee for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, which touches on how she feels about her father.
"This next song is an enormous bummer!" she warned with a smile before playing "Funeral," a song about a close friend’s heroin overdose.
After "Funeral," she took a moment to comment on the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, noting how strange it was to come back to the United States to the news after performing overseas.
"I hate this f—ing s—hole," she said. "Yeah, I don’t know, I feel like America is so romanticized, it’s insane. It’s nice to have a good time while we watch the world burn around us." She directed anyone "with some dough" to donate to the Mariposa Fund in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which provides reproductive health services for undocumented women.
As she reminisced about coming to Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands over the years (and introduced her grandfather, who was watching in the audience), she recalled a time that she was very happy about her all-black outfit and thought she looked cute — until a flying can of Red Bull hit her in the head and ruined her clothes and self-esteem.
Bridgers has called "Scott Street" a song about loneliness, but when she performed it, she came out to the crowd to let them sing it for her, handing the microphone to a teary woman who couldn’t wait to hug Bridgers after screaming the lyrics, "Anyway, don’t leave a stranger!"
GRAMMY-winner SZA performed at the opposite end of the large festival at the same time, which prompted Bridgers to say that she was bummed to miss her, and suggested that they were collaborating when Bridgers took a moment to go acoustic and noise from SZA’s show could be heard in the background. The competing set times compelled some to watch half of each, a strategy that was overheard throughout the day leading up to their headlining.
Concluding appropriately with "I Know The End," she thanked the crowd and shouted out her agent, Dave Rowan, who she first met at Outside Lands several years ago during four-time GRAMMY winner Jason Isbell’s performance, for scoring this meaningful gig.
"It was a dream come true, thank you!"
Photo: Lorne Thomson / Contributor
Outside Lands 2022: Mitski Brings A Theatrical Loneliness To Thousands
Mitski's Outside Lands audience was rapt and excitable, yet it was hard to tell whether the singer had a good time or what she thought of the Sunday night crowd.
After touring heavily for five years, Mitski performed at SummerStage in New York City’s Central Park and crushed her fans by announcing that it would be her "last show indefinitely." Fast forward three years, and the 31-year-old singer-songwriter has been performing on major stages all summer, including England’s Glastonbury, Denmark’s Roskilde and San Francisco’s Outside Lands, where her Sunday night set ushered in the darkness and closed out the festival.
Lyric-knowing fans and curious onlookers taking Mitski in for the first time got an immediate glimpse of her conflicting feelings about herself with the opener, "Love Me More." From Outside Lands' Sutro stage she sang, "Every day I’m trying not to hate myself/But lately, it’s not hurting like it did before/Maybe I am learning how to love me more."
Mitski has spoken out against being unfairly pigeonholed as a fiercely private person and publicly struggled with anxiety and self-loathing as well as the pressures of fame, the music business and having an ardent fan following. Her work, filled with unrequited love, animates a lonely vibe that thrives in isolated listening situations, but it also clearly offers comfort to a festival crowd of thousands with minimal physical space between them, even as the pandemic is still taken seriously in San Francisco.
Her Outside Lands audience was rapt, eagerly and frequently erupting at each dramatic hand movement and pose. If she found that unnerving at all, she didn’t break character while singing popular songs like "I Bet on Losing Dogs," "Washing Machine Heart" and "Your Best American Girl."
"If you would just make one mistake/What a relief that would be," she sang on "The Only Heartbreaker." "But I think for as long as we’re together/I’ll be the only heartbreaker."
Mitski doesn’t use backup singers, and her music isn’t conducive to having dancers, but she employs choreographed dance movements throughout the performance. Whether she’s daringly patting her crotch in a sardonic Michael Jackson way, striking a powerful pose taken from Japanese Butoh dance theater or throwing herself hatefully on the ground, her body is a conduit for what her words can’t say. And it’s also an impenetrable wall that keeps us from getting too close.
Her 20-song set was free of concert conventions. There was no banter in between songs or fan interactions on or offstage, though either would have been an uncomfortable departure from where this performer seemingly prefers to be situated during a concert. It's hard to tell whether Mitski had a good time or what she thought of the Outside Lands crowd, which most other performers were happy to acknowledge. She left the pyro and the fireworks to Post Malone on the neighboring stage, though a portion of the glittering explosives were visible through the trees as her performance neared its end, adding a little bit of sparkle to the somberness.
Mitski concluded with 2018’s "A Pearl, building her wall even taller with an isolating refrain: "Sorry, I don’t want your touch/It’s not that I don’t want you/Sorry, I can’t take your touch."
Photo: NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images
Lady Legends And Newcomers Join Mercury Rev On Bobbie Gentry Tribute Album
Mercury Rev revisits Gentry's classic sophomore album with female guest vocalists who shine. Catch the album out Feb. 8
Indie band Mercury Rev have announced their next album, a tribute to Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited, will be available on Feb. 8.
The album features an array of guest voices. Mercury Rev's incredible selection of guest vocalists on the tracks kicks off with Norah Jones performing "Okolona River Bottom Band." Others lending their voices to the effort are Phoebe Bridgers, Vashti Bunyan, Rachel Goswell, Marissa Nadler, Beth Orton, Lætitia Sadier, Hope Sandoval, Kaela Sinclair, Susanne Sundfør, Carice van Houten, and Lucinda Williams, whose rendition of "Ode To Billie Joe" was added to the original album's tracklist.
"Bobbie is iconic, original, eloquent and timeless," said singer Margo Price, whose guest vocals are featured on "Sermon." "She has remained a strong voice and an eternal spirit of the delta, wrapped in mystery, yet forever here."
The Delta Sweete was Gentry's 1968 follow up to her debut Ode To Billie Joe, for which she won three GRAMMYs at the 10th GRAMMY Awards.
NEWS: @mercuryrevvd have announced the release of Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited! The album is a re-imagining of Bobbie Gentry’s forgotten masterpiece and features an incredible cast list of guest vocalists. More info here... https://t.co/ctfOtZ9kGb pic.twitter.com/TFfyaYdSVa— bella union (@bellaunion) November 14, 2018
Photo: Alive Coverage
10 Moments From Outside Lands 2022: Kim Petras Covers Kate Bush, Larry June Gets Healthy & An Illegal Afterparty
San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival returned to Golden Gate Park for three days of sun-soaked sounds. From local rap and DJs, to "slut pop" and Pussy Riot, GRAMMY.com recaps three days of distinctly Bay Area joy.
Outside Lands, which takes place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is typically accompanied by foggy days and nights, a wintery music festival that takes place in the summertime. But sunny skies and temperatures into the ‘70s brought a brighter outlook and bolder outfits to this year’s event on Aug. 5-7.
The festival, which began in 2008 and has taken place annually except for 2020, featured headliners SZA, Green Day and Post Malone at the top of an international lineup of DJs, artists and bands, plus extensive food and drink options and even a legal cannabis marketplace and consumption area. Here are some of the many notable moments that helped to make Outside Lands a delightful experience this year.
A sold-out crowd at Outside Lands’ main stage. | Photo: Alive Coverage
DJ Umami Wins The Game
As the official DJ for the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors, DJ Umami knows how to rock stadiums with a smile. Her packed Friday afternoon performance at The House by Heineken — one of four areas at the festival that were dedicated to DJ sets — combined the explosive energy she has at those big sporting events with the hype of her bar and club gigs. Fran Boogie, her friend and frequent collaborator on the mic, offered the cherry on top with his vocal party-pumping punctuations.
Hiatus Kaiyote Slays The 4:20 Set
Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote | Photo: Alive Coverage
The festival’s Grass Lands area sold THC-infused beverages (including cans of weeded sparkling water by Pabst Blue Ribbon), edibles and cannabis flower. The smell in the air at 4:20 p.m. on Friday made it clear that Grass Lands was on track to sell millions of dollars of products, as it reportedly did in 2019.
Grass Lands was located close to the main stage, Lands End, where Australian jazz-funk act Hiatus Kaiyote must have received quite the 420 contact high. Singer Nai Palm led a set largely taken from the band’s 2021 album, Mood Valiant, which was written when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The soul survivor also effortlessly handled a cover of David Bowie’s "Within You."
Lil Uzi Vert Looks Out For His Fans
Lil Uzi Vert gets up close and personal. | Photo: Alive Coverage
GRAMMY nominee Lil Uzi Vert was careful to notice when the crowd at his Lands End performance got too squished together in front. At a few points during his 26-song set, he asked everybody to take three steps back before he’d start again.
"Then we can really open up," he said. Those pauses in the show appeared to work, giving people more room to throw their hands up and jump up and down instead of being involuntarily carried by the crowd.
He did his most-requested original songs, like "XO TOUR Llif3," "444+222" and "I KNOW," but also covered "WDYW" by Carnage and Playboy Carti’s "Wokeuplikethis," the latter of which prompted an overzealous fan to jump on the stage, which Lil Uzi Vert handled with obvious love and grace.
Qbert And Shortkut Offer DJ Masterclasses
Nestled under trees, the intimate Cocktail Magic stage featured technically masterful freestyle sets from legendary local DJs Qbert and Shortkut on Friday and Saturday. With their schedules taking them to different places, the longtime friends rarely get to see each other these days, and Shortkut told their audience that they were having fun practicing together.
The DJs played hip-hop, drum & bass, and electro beats and wittily conversed through the cadences of their improvised cuts and scratches over the top. After their Saturday show, they posed with girls in pickle costumes, a nod to their '90s world champion DJ battle crew name, Invisibl Skratch Piklz.
(L-R) Hester Chambers and Rhian Teasdale of Wet Leg. | Photo: Steve Jennings/Contributor
Wet Leg Gets Tiny Blue Babies… Again
One of the festival’s true scheduling conflicts was having Russia’s provocative Pussy Riot perform at the same time as buzzy English duo Wet Leg on Sunday, forcing tough choices and a strong desire to be two places at once. Those who chose Wet Leg at the Sutro stage were rewarded with a sunny set of songs from their self-titled debut album, including "Being in Love," "Wet Dream" and the purposefully misspelled "Chaise Longue."
The audience also got the chance to bear witness to a rather strange mystery. In between songs, singer/guitarist Rhian Teasdale picked up tiny blue plastic babies that were thrown on stage. Wet Leg has no idea why they keep getting pelted with them.
"We get these every time we play in San Francisco!" marveled singer/guitarist Rhian Teasdale, holding up one of the tiny tots.
Baby Tate Wakes Up The Panhandle
Though Atlanta rapper Baby Tate (the daughter of GRAMMY-nominated singer Dionne Farris) appeared on Sunday’s Panhandle stage — one of the smaller and traditionally sleepier performance areas at Outside Lands — she quickly drew a feverishly-bouncing crowd that foreshadows how confidently she’d fare on a main stage at the festival.
DJ Sky Jetta introduced her with a quick flurry of surprising songs, including Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" and Panic! At The Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." Tate, 26, somehow matched the energy of those millennial classics with her own newer songs, like 2020’s "Rainbow Cadillac," which contains an interpolation of Danity Kane’s 2006 pop debut, "Show Stopper."
Larry June Gets A Healthy Crowd
Local rapper Larry June | Photo: Alive Coverage
The only local rap artist booked at Outside Lands, San Francisco’s Larry June didn’t appear to have high expectations beforehand, telling SFGate, "I don't care if there's 100 people in my set, I just keep pushing. I don't even care about set times or whatever, I just do my thing and go home."
But thousands of people pushed through to see June perform what he calls a "healthy and organic experience" on Saturday with effortlessly cool songs like "Watering My Plants" and "Smoothies in 1991." He said the Outside Lands audience was his biggest and best crowd of all time.
Kim Petras Covers Kate Bush
"It’s a scary f—ing time right now, especially for trans girls," said the German pop star Kim Petras on Sunday as a preface to her vocally strong, emotionally-charged cover of Kate Bush’s "Running Up That Hill," which she made sure to note that she released months before the song’s star turn on "Stranger Things."
It was a sobering and tear jerking moment in what was otherwise a tight set of naughty and fun anthems, including "Slut Pop" and "Throat Goat," on the second biggest stage, Twin Peaks.
Tater Tots Grow Up
Lobster tater tots fromWilliam Tell House | Photo: Tamara Palmer
With over 80 restaurants and food vendors, Outside Lands is as much a food festival as a music one, and the diverse selections really represented what the Bay Area culinary scene has to offer.
Two takes on tater tots easily stole the show for deliciousness and ease of eating: a spicy, lobster-crowned version by William Tell House in neighboring Marin County, and churro tots topped with chocolate and caramel sauces and whipped cream by San Francisco confectioner Charles Chocolates.
Hemorage Drops The Hottest (Illegal) Aftershow
Just after Green Day finished their Saturday set at Lands End that included reminiscing on playing an illegal show in another San Francisco park in the '90s, a hardcore thrash band from the city called Hemorage started their own show. They parked their van at a residential corner near one of the festival exits and proceeded to send even more noise throughout the already-weary Sunset District.
While police arrived, they actually waited for a song to finish before pulling the plug. There’s no doubt that Billie Joe Armstrong would have more than approved of such a genius pop-up show.
Photo: Daniel Mendoza
Outside Lands 2022: Green Day Makes The Bay Proud With Fiery Saturday Headlining Set
For their first performance at Outside Lands, legendary Bay Area punk act Green Day paid tribute to their hometown and local heroes, while giving the sold-out crowd what they wanted: to rock and roll all night.
Green Day finally got the chance to play Outside Lands on the San Francisco festival’s 15th annual spin around Golden Gate Park, headlining Saturday’s lineup with a bombastic set filled with rock star pyro, explosives and endearing stories about being a real band from the Bay Area — Contra Costa County in the East Bay, to be precise.
A few minutes before they came out, a text message from the festival app warned of intense lights and loud sound effects to come. Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" then prompted a singalong of thousands, and a person in a fluffy bunny rabbit costume with a demented face hyped the crowd while the Ramones’ "Blitzkrieg Bop" roared. A custom-made intro mash-up of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ "I Love Rock & Roll," "We Will Rock You" and "Also Sprach Zarathustra," a classical tone poem from 1896, ushered the band — singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool (with additional guitar support from Jason White, who largely remained side stage and off screen) — on stage, beginning with the still-relevant "American Idiot."
The multi-GRAMMY winners understood the hugeness of the moment, taking the opportunity to structure a playful show that paid homage to artists who came before them — as when they teased a quick riff of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath before playing their own song "Hitchin’ a Ride." One of the great surprises of the set was a high energy cover of KISS’ 1975 anthem "Rock and Roll All Nite," which was accompanied with '70s-style floodlights and the Green Day logo reimagined in KISS' jagged font.
These three have been together since high school, and you can see and feel their love for each other, their music and where they grew up. At times, Armstrong and Dirnt played their guitars back to back and nestled their heads on each other’s shoulders. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the last Green Day show in Golden Gate Park — an illegal set with some hardcore bands in 1991 — resulted in their arrest, so this was a clear upgrade. Armstrong also talked about a failed attempt to play at San Francisco’s much-smaller Dolores Park back in the day, which also ended with police.
"I’m so happy right now!" Armstrong exclaimed, as "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" fired up. He asked everyone to flash their phone lights ("Just about the only thing those phones are good for," he added) and turned the stage lights off creating a powerful sparkling effect from the thousands-strong crowd.
Green Day at the Lands End stage on Saturday night. | Photo: Daniel Mendoza
Different tunes got individual visual treatments that were quite engaging, with pulsating views of the band bathed in color or black and white. The light show extended all the way around Golden Gate Park’s tree-lined Polo Field, with strobes and other effects bouncing off of the greenery in time with the music.
After inviting a female fan up to sing and get a hug, Armstrong looked out into the crowd and said he needed someone to come up and play guitar with them.
"You’re 10-years-old and you can play?" he asked a boy who raised both his hands in the air. "Do you swear you can play?"
His name is Montgomery, which Armstrong shortened to Monty for the crowd to chant. And he can play, as everyone quickly learned when he contributed power chords to "Knowledge," a song from the Berkeley punk act Operation Ivy that was released in 1989.
The band would go on to perform even more unexpected covers, including "Shout," the Isley Brothers classic from 1959, and a snippet of Journey’s "Lights," a song that got extra love in the Bay Area through an old radio station commercial for KFRC. The latter felt like a quick nod to the 40 and 50-somethings in the crowd who grew up on the station.
At one point, Armstrong acted like a mad conductor and waved his arms up and down ferociously to get the crowd to cheer in different sections. When he was done, he said, "You’re all suckers, except the ones from Oakland!"
"This is f—ing beautiful," he said in seriousness. "We’re all here together."
Billie Joe in a moment of eleation. | Photo: Daniel Mendoza
The only slightly unplanned moment that was detected was when a guitar string broke on "Basket Case" that momentarily deconstructed the huge and strong wall of sound that was the set’s hallmark. But that was actually a treat, like getting to hear isolated parts of a song you’ve only heard one way your whole life.
That standard moment towards the end of a concert when a lead singer introduces their band was much more fun in the hands of Armstrong. He jokingly introduced his sax player, who played a mean riff of "Careless Whisper" by George Michael, as Henry Winkler a.k.a. "Fonzie from ‘Happy Days,’" then introduced himself as "Dewey."
Green Day packed so many of their hits into the 22-song performance that we briefly wondered what could be left for the last number, since the band had already done biggies like "Welcome to Paradise," "When I Come Around" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends." But, of course, Green Day has no more perfect song to conclude with than "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," which Armstrong performed alone on acoustic guitar as fireworks shot over the stage and into the night sky.