After a high-energy opening day, Outside Lands continued its pandemic-era return on an even more packed Saturday, with tens of thousands of fans flocking to Golden Gate Park. The genre-agnostic fest offered nonstop stimuli between the four music stages, culinary offerings, live art, DJ sets and other diversions. And with everything happening at once, it was easy to log several days worth of steps in your health app trying to do it all. Here’s who impressed on day two.
PHOTOS: Lizzo’s Sex-Positive Charisma Lights Up Outside Lands Saturday
Lizzo brings powerhouse vocals and a few laughs
Lizzo makes everyone feel like she could be their bestie. She might be the headliner of Outside Lands, belting out megawatt vocal runs with a full band and cadre of stylish, spandex-wearing dancers. But she’ll also tell you her thong leotard is riding up to uncomfortable places from all the twerking happening on stage. It’s this mix of five-star talent and humor that made her set so endearing. (At one point, she even came out dressed as the creepy doll from Squid Game.)
Pausing to reflect on the pandemic, Lizzo told the crowd, “That’s what music is about, bringing us back together so we can grieve and heal and grow together,” she said before pivoting to a gag. “In these unprecedented times, nothing is for certain. Except that I’ll always have good pussy.”
Between sex-positive self-love tracks like “Soulmate” and “Boys,” Lizzo sang snippets of covers of Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. These are artists no one should touch unless they really, really know what they’re doing, and Lizzo did. She remade and remixed “Respect” and “I’m Every Woman” into her own versions, and strategically positioned herself as an heiress to a lineage of all-time greats. It was a bold move matched by her powerhouse voice.
Rico Nasty lets out her rage
Rico Nasty’s early evening set at the Twin Peaks stage was a chaotic good. “Y’all got a lot of energy for me and I appreciate that,” she told the crowd. That was an understatement. As she launched into her rambunctious diss track “STFU,” rapping in the gruffest end of her register, people climbed on metal barricades and sprayed water into the air. The crowd pulsed up and down like an enormous organism—if the area in front of Twin Peaks was especially muddy, this was why.
Rico turned her goth aesthetic up a notch for the Halloween weekend show, taking the stage in a red and black tutu and corset like a sexy-yet-evil harlequin. Dancers in inflatable gremlin outfits hyped her as she rapped hits like “Cold,” “Poppin’” and “Rage.” The latter, with the screamo refrain “I like bad bitches who be ragin’,” unleashed fury in the crowd like a modern-day “Knuck If You Buck,” giving the women in particular permission to let it all out in the mosh pit.
Reggie Watts fits dad jokes between beatboxing
Comedian-with-a-drum machine Marc Rebillet had to bow out of his Sutro Stage set because of an injury, but the festival replaced him with another electronic music star with a sense of humor: Reggie Watts. Though taking the stage completely solo, Watts performed with the power of a three- or four-piece band, beatboxing, looping his voice, rapping, singing into a vocoder and somehow fitting in some stand-up material. Watching him, you get the sensation that his brain has a processing power several times greater than that of an average human. Oh, did I mention he has a four-and-a-half-octave vocal range?
Watts says his sets are 100% improvised, which would explain some of the bizarro directions of his lyrics and monologues. He cracked the audience up with dad jokes when he referred to Vampire Weekend as Werewolf Weekday. At one point, he acted like he was about to perform a magic trick with a cloth but used it to clean his glasses, and then sang about how fans give him crap when his lenses are dirty. Ketamine came up as a topic several times—he told the audience to try it while laying in bed and listening to Brian Eno to “allow reality to reveal itself in its natural, unfettered state.” Not sure how many people took him up on that, but his goofy humor and rare abilities left big grins on people’s faces.
Vampire Weekend’s polished indie rock
Vampire Weekend’s set design was like something you’d see on bumper stickers in the Berkeley Bowl parking lot: a big, hanging globe and a background of symbols alluding to nature, unity and peace. It matched the cheerful vibe of their jangly, hook-driven indie rock, which the mostly 20-something crowd knew word for word even though the band’s heyday was in the late 2000s and early 2010s music blog era.
Vampire Weekend was incredibly efficient and tightly rehearsed, with two guitars and a keyboard often playing in unison like an Olympic synchronized swimming team. The shekere and other African percussion instruments enhanced their clean-cut tracks, and occasionally they broke loose from their structure, like when Brian Robert Jones unleashed a Slash-worthy guitar solo during “Sunshine,” a track from their 2019 album Father of the Bride.