Any hopes for even one sunny day at Outside Lands 2023 were quickly done in by Sunday’s perpetual gray skies in the outer meadows of Golden Gate Park. But moods were brightened by solid sets from Poolside, Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion, beabadoobee, Odesza, and The 1975.
Sunday afternoon began with an announcement from organizers that the SOMA dance tent, which had been plagued by problems with its floor the previous two days, was becoming an "open-air house party" in Marx Meadow. Even without the line to get into the tent, the popular dance area attracted a line that extended way down JFK Drive as staffers were trying to control capacity and only letting people in single-file at a gate.
Maybe Outside Lands just needs to become half an EDM festival next year? It seems like half the place just wanted to dance on any given day, and the ongoing popularity of the SOMA Tent was just one sign of that.
Poolside's set was mellow and jangly on the Lands End Stage, kicking off just before 4 p.m. "As you can tell, we don't have any bangers. There won't be any drops," said frontman Jeffrey Paradise, a.k.a. the DJ behind SF parties from over a decade ago like Frisco Disco and Blow Up. "But we're happy to be playing here in San Francisco. Five of us all lived here at some point, and it's always great to be back."
23-year-old Filipino-English singer-songwriter beabadoobee took the Twin Peaks Stage shortly thereafter, delivering a confident set while wearing a cheeky t-shirt that said "We are a beabadoobee cover band."
The fog was rolling in hard at 5 p.m. when Lil Yachty started a 20-song set at the Land’s End stage, and the mist worked a beautiful effect during his performance that emphasized the soulful, trip-hoppy numbers, plus his hit 2016 collaborations “Broccoli” and “iSpy.”
Under the same fog at the Sutro stage, R&B folksinger Joy Oladokun played a sweet, mellow set of acoustical songs for festival-goers who just wanted to hug or hold each other in the foggy breeze. ”I grew up in a small town,” Oladokun told the crowd. “That’s why I dress like a trucker.”
Megan Thee Stallion’s Sunday night set was appointment viewing, and her lyrics inspired more bootleg t-shirts throughout the crowd than any other act playing at Outside Lands this year. She brought an hour-long burst of "Hot Girl Summer" into the fog in a sequined pink jumpsuit, a garishly long red-haired wig, and eye shadow so generously applied you could see it from the back of the crowd.
Megan did not directly address the Tory Lanez situation, in a performance just five days after Lanez was sentenced to ten years in prison for shooting her in the feet in July 2020. She did at one point do a long heart-to-heart talk thanking her fans for sticking with her through the ordeal, and diplomatically added, “Fuck all my haters. None of that shit you was doing or saying broke me.”
We got a very satisfying “WAP,” which cleverly started as a mashup of Lil Jon yelling “Yeeeah!” from the 2004 Ludacris track “Yeah” mixed with the “There's some whores in this house” opening beats. (Megan sang her lines, the Cardi B lines were prerecorded versions.)
She had background dancers, but they were basically furniture. This was a one-woman show, and Megan Thee Stallion is funny and charismatic enough to command a crowd. Her choreography was terrific, though predictably focused in large part on her ass. But she had her delirious audience shaking those exact same moves when she powered into “Body” and “Thot Shit.”
The 1975's Matt Healy did his damndest to live up to his rock-and-roll image, coming onstage with a flask and a cigarette and looking generally messy. After breaking up with Taylor Swift a month or two ago and causing a stir in Malaysia in July by kissing bassist Ross MacDonald onstage — in protest of the country's anti-LGBTQ laws, which then caused the entire Good Vibes festival to be canceled — Healy still sang well, and got the crowd roaring on songs like "Love It If We Made It" and "Give Yourself a Try."
The electronic music duo Odesza were a lot more than a duo Sunday night (they also played Outside Lands 2018), with at least a dozen musicians on stage including a drum corps and a brass band. But their over-the-top fireworks are what the Richmond District is probably talking about today. Odesza blew off fireworks every third or fourth number in this set. But they ignited a surprisingly ballsy finale of fireworks to finish, a fireworks finale that started at 9:31 p.m. and lasted about three minutes. Yes, Sunday night’s shows wrap up earlier, but this was an aggressive volume of fireworks for a Sunday night closing act.
They had flamethrowers on stage too, which they showed off frequently, in front of background projections of seemingly Tron-based imagery. A disco version of “Love Letter” had the meadow raging like it was a Sunday morning sunrise party at the EndUp. Most of Odesza’s numbers just utilized prerecorded female vocals, though they were joined onstage for two tracks by British vocalist Izzy Bizu, who’s toured with Coldplay and Sam Smith. They started their close-out with “The Last Goodbye” played completely in darkness as the crowd was enveloped in their remaining fireworks smoke. And then they promptly added plenty more of that smoke with a rousing fireworks finale.
A few more photos below.
Joe Kukura also contributed to this report.