On the GastroMagic stage at Outside Lands on Friday, Aug. 10, drag performer Shangela of RuPaul's Drag Race fame marveled at the number of LGBTQ people who came to her cooking demonstration-turned-drag show.
"That's why I love being home," said San Francisco-raised chef Tiffani Faison, onstage teaching Shangela to make fried fish while the drag queen cracked cheeky, innuendo-filled one-liners.
"And I love being homo," Shangela retorted without missing a beat.
Outside Lands' first-time inclusion of female headliners (with Florence + the Machine on Saturday and Janet Jackson on Sunday) has been a hot topic since the lineup was announced in April. But as the fest kicked off on Friday in Golden Gate Park, it became apparent that the many LGBTQ artists and performers at this year's Outside Lands attracted a queerer, more diverse audience, changing the tone from the bro-y vibe of years past.
After Faison laid the fried fish onto an enormous, baking pan-sized biscuit for an impossibly huge sandwich, the DJ hit play on RuPaul's vogue house tune, "Call Me Mother," and Shangela stripped off her chef outfit, revealing a Beyoncé-esque gold beaded leotard that glistened in the afternoon sun. The audience erupted with cheers and shouts of "yaaasss" as Shangela lip synced, twirled, kicked and death-dropped to the floor.
In addition to Shangela's second set at the Barbary, the festival's comedy tent, Friday's lineup also included a sultry performance by Perfume Genius, the queer electronic pop balladeer. Perfume Genius, clad in vintage dress pants and a loud, blue-and-white button-down, sauntered across the stage like a sexy cowboy to reverb-laden guitar that evoked a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. As his band built up instrumental layers to a crescendo of synths, he popped his hips and writhed suggestively on the floor as the many gender non-conforming, creatively dressed audience members cheered.
Later in the afternoon, pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen, who has a massive, loyal following in the LGBTQ community, ignited an epic dance party consisting mostly of gay guys and their gal pals at the Twin Peaks stage. Groups of teenagers skipped and tossed their ponytails to "Boy Problems" and "Call Me Maybe." Jepsen's cotton-candy tunes, delivered with the bubbly attitude of a modern-day Cindy Lauper, elevated the mood with their uncomplicated expressions of infatuation and joy.
To close out her set, a buff, shirtless go-go dancer with a rainbow cape joined Jepsen on stage. He pulled at least five technicolor wigs off his head one by one, the final wig exploding with gold glitter, as Jepsen and the audience watched in awe and delight.
Shangela, Perfume Genius and Carly Rae Jepsen centered queerness in a way I haven't seen at previous editions of Outside Lands, which has only recently begun to meaningfully shift its focus from white- and male-dominated rock to more inclusive lineups. Judging by the smiling faces all around, the LGBTQ people in the audience were feeling the love.
With Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness doing a live podcast Saturday and Janelle Monae (who recently came out as pansexual) and R&B band The Internet (whose singer Syd openly sings about gay themes) performing on Sunday, this might just be the most LGTBQ-friendly Outside Lands yet. Let's hope the trend continues.
The Weeknd's Moody Hit Parade
Canadian chart-topper The Weeknd closed out Friday night at Outside Lands with a set that wove tracks from his debut mixtape, House of Balloons, to his latest album, My Dear Melancholy. While singing about feeling empty in the club on tracks like "Starboy," "I Can't Feel My Face" and "Low Life," he sounded surprisingly soulful under cinematic, sunset-hued stage lights and heavy fog while the crowd never stopped moving their feet.
Caleborate's Set Was a Win for the Home Team
It was only three years ago that Caleborate came onto the East Bay music scene with his endearingly confessional debut, Hella Good. Now with three albums under his belt, the breakout artist has quickly ascended to headlining small clubs like The New Parish and lighting up the Panhandle stage at Outside Lands, where legions of hometown fans chanted "Caleb! Caleb!"
As he performed the danceable, house-inflected jam "SMH" and the hyped-up confessional "Bankrobber," Caleborate danced on top of the speakers and ran through the photo pit to high-five the front row. His set felt like a triumph for the Bay Area's underground rap scene.
See more photos from Friday at Outside Lands below.
Outside Lands continues through Sunday, Aug. 12. For tips, guides, food and more, see all of KQED's Outside Lands coverage here.