That question seemed to be answered today, with the festival's announcement on social media that Janet Jackson will take the stage at this year's Outside Lands, presumably in a headlining slot.
But booking Janet Jackson in 2018 is a case study in too little, too late: in the past 10 years, there have been no single female headliners at Outside Lands, an issue repeatedly raised in recent years by local music journalists. (The full lineup announcement for this year's fest, taking place Aug. 10-12 in Golden Gate Park, is coming April 3 at 10am.)
Allen Scott of Another Planet Entertainment, co-producers of Outside Lands, explained the lack of women headliners in a 2017 interview with Consequence of Sound, promising that his staff had diligently pursued female headliners, but that the "stars just haven't aligned yet." But with Outside Lands' ability to secure performances from in-demand male-fronted acts over the years — expensive acts like Radiohead, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney — it seems surprising that not a single woman was available to take a top spot on the lineup over the past decade.
Of course, with the ongoing #MeToo movement and a jarring lack of female winners at this year's Grammy's, pressure for more inclusive festival lineups has reached a fever pitch. Earlier this year, 45 international music festivals pledged to have a 50/50 gender balance on their lineups by 2022. (Only two of the festivals that made the pledge are in the U.S.: A2IM Indie Week and NYC Winter Jazzfest.)
Janet Jackson might be the perfect person to usher in what will hopefully be a sea change at Outside Lands. After all, Jackson's career took a major hit after the "wardrobe malfunction" during her performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl. Fans were outraged when Timberlake was invited to perform at the Super Bowl again this year, while Jackson never recovered from the incident.
No doubt her Outside Lands performance will help restore her cultural legacy — and hopefully catalyze a new, more inclusive chapter for the festival.