During her Sunday night set at Outside Lands, Solange paused to acknowledge the violence of the previous day in Charlottesville at the hands of white nationalists. “Stay up. Find your self-care, find your joy,” she implored the audience, specifically shouting out her black, LGBTQ, and Muslim fans.
“Hey! What about the white people?” screamed a young, white man behind me.
Solange’s remarks were clearly meant to uplift those whose civil rights were threatened by the marchers in Charlottesville — a threat that didn't apply to him. But when I turned around to explain, he retorted, “So you think I’m a white supremacist just because I’m white?”
If the interaction confirmed anything, it was that there's a clear disconnect between Outside Lands’ mostly white attendees and the nation’s state of affairs — one that was felt through most of this year's festival.
Saturday’s bloody protests, resulting in the death of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer, dominated news feeds over Outside Lands weekend. In his initial response, President Trump avoided calling out white nationalists, instead condemning hatred and bigotry “on many sides” and refusing to answer reporters who asked if he wanted white nationalists' support. On social media, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and former KKK leader David Duke celebrated that the president didn’t specifically implicate their movements. (It's wasn't until two days later, after public pressure, that Trump named the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, calling their racism “evil” in a White House speech.)
Meanwhile, at Outside Lands, there was scant acknowledgement of Charlottesville that I saw, apart from comments by Solange, Cage the Elephant, Young the Giant, and a few others. On Friday, before the violent clash took place, Noname and Henry Rollins had spoken against the Trump administration in explicit terms. But on Saturday and Sunday, after a car plowed into a group of people — killing Heyer, and injuring 19 others — the majority of the artists’ silence was deafening. A few bands, including Metallica, Dawes, and Bomba Estéreo, offered vague feel-good sentiments about the power of music to bring people together.