Since 2008, concertgoers in the Bay Area and beyond have carefully planned out their Outside Lands itineraries. With numerous music stages, the Barbary comedy tent, wacky culinary GastroMagic stage, pop-up performances (that throw a wrench into everyone’s carefully sculpted, laminated schedules), not to mention mini golf, food, beer, wine, art and more, it’s hard to figure out where to be and when.
The San Francisco music festival consistently hosts an impressive bill with noteworthy headliners that will leave every kind of music lover more than satisfied. Radiohead, Elton John, Gorillaz, Kanye West and Paul McCartney have headlined the three-day extravaganza in recent years.
The Weekend, Florence and The Machine, and Janet Jackson top the 2018 lineup, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg with regard to what Outside Lands have up its sleeve this year. From indie-rap meme legends to lo-fi pioneers, here are the acts for whom you need to wake up early.
Friday, Aug. 10
Quinn XCII — Lands End Stage — 1:05 to 1:50 p.m.
This seems to be the year that keeps on giving for this Detroit songwriter. Quinn’s meld of pop, alt-R&B and indietronica has gained him considerable attention over the past two years. His diverse sound will come in handy at Outside Lands, as his atmospheric production and dynamic singing voice will surely appeal to many unsuspecting music lovers.
The Mountain Goats — Twin Peaks Stage — 2:05 to 2:55 p.m.
Fresh off the release of his acclaimed 16th album Goths, John Darnielle, who performs as “The Mountain Goats,” is almost two decades strong as one of lo-fi indie rock’s finest acts. The fact The Mountain Goats are going this strong after 24 years is impressive in its own right, but the fact Darnielle sounds fresh and interesting in one of the most over-saturated genres increases his band’s compelling nature. The tried-and-true brand of raw, darkly humorous music is as indispensable as it was at inception.
Olivia O’Brien — Panhandle Stage — 2:55 to 3:35 p.m.
The Thousand Oaks-born, Napa-raised atmospheric R&B chart-topper has made a name for herself within hip-hop and soul music. Olivia O’Brien’s triplet-based flow tips a hat to trap, but her realness and vulnerability as a songwriter keeps her one step ahead of the vapidity often associated with pop music. With influences all over the map, she still manages to remain accessible and danceable.
Caleborate — Panhandle Stage — 4:30 to 5:10 p.m.
With hip-hop getting ever farther from its poetic core, Berkeley’s Caleborate helps carry the torch of lyrical rap through his immersive production and gritty flow. That grit avoids the tropes of trap and gangsta rap. Caleborate explores adolescent struggles and societal pressure through his thoughtful lyrics. His soothing singing allows his observations to ease their way in, while his rapping hits hard and provides vital reexaminations of relevant issues.
Elohim — Panhandle Stage — 7:50 to 8:35 p.m.
To call Elohim simply a DJ would be a disservice. The vocalist and multi-instrumentalist puts on a visual, thrilling, electro-pop spectacle, including healthy doses of visual delights, layered vocal stylings, and a heavy synth attack. Elohim is an on-stage enigma that will provide an opportunity for festivalgoers looking for a set in which to get lost.
Margo Price — Sutro Stage — 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.
Margo Price is a throwback in the truest sense. Price spent nearly a decade in Nashville before finally getting her debut album released. The 35-year-old is now touring on her Third Man-released sophomore album, All American Made. The socially conscious songstress is a little bit Dolly, and little bit Willie, with a side of Petty. Expect a mix of sharp lyricism with a danceable sensibility on songs like “Do Right By Me” and “Pay Gap” that pair well with a little summer festival sun.
Saturday, Aug. 11
Amen Dunes — Sutro Stage – 1:05 to 1:50 p.m.
Damon McMahon has blossomed from his garagey origins into an expansive, but not less intimate take on alt-country and dream-pop. His fifth album, Freedom, dropped back in March, and presented yet another artistic metamorphosis for the artist. Beach House’s Chris Coady brought the album’s back-to-the-roots approach to life from behind the mixing board. The album’s sonic exuberance harbors harrowing tails of growing up in New York City. His vivid storytelling won’t be easy to forget this weekend.
Freya Ridings — Panhandle Stage — 1:25 to 2:05 p.m.
Twenty-three-year-old U.K. songstress Freya Ridings travels across the pond for a midday set on the Panhandle Stage. The vocalist and pianist goes heavy on balladry with her dark, smokey and passionate delivery. Her songs are dramatic and intense; built around restrained synths that let the lyrics and vocals do the talking.
Lucy Dacus — Cocktail Magic Stage — 3:05 to 3:40 p.m.; Pandhandle — 6:05 to 6:45 p.m.
Rock suffers from a lack of bands can, well, rock. Virginia’s Lucy Dacus manages to inject this much-needed adrenalin while maintaining the clever arrangements and lyricism of indie rock. Her sophomore album, Historian, released this past spring, continues her growth as an artist. The album lives up to its name, with complex songwriting complementing Lucy Dacus’ syncopated riffs and evolving rhythms.
Sunday, Aug. 12
Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers — Sutro Stage — 1:10 to 1:55 p.m.
Living meme status aside, let it never be said that Frank Lopes, Jr. viral fame is false hype. His unorthodox combination of hip-hop, spoken word poetry slams and janky rock n’ roll has incensed nearly as many people as its won over, but its original nature is hard to ignore. If his quirky music videos don’t get people excited about experiencing him live, it’s hard to tell whether he would even care that much. Hobo Johnson loves not caring, and it shows.