On Saturday afternoon, day two of 2018 Outside Lands on the main Lands End stage, the bold Lizzo put on a big show, attired in a yellow ensemble complete with gauze tutu and train that matched her big bold voice and energetic dance moves. With her dancers the Big Girls, and a broad wink and lewd, burlesque moves, she even gave the crowd “the world’s largest twerk tutorial” to demonstrate exactly how to do “the butt popping thing.” Highlights of the set included “Truth Hurts,” “Boys” and “Karaoke,” her recent single with Big Freedia, as well as a crowd singalong to “Scrubs.”
Canadian indie rockers Broken Social Scene – which played the first Outside Lands in 2008 — also appeared in the afternoon at the Lands End stage. The nine-piece band with multiple singers and guitars played solid rock with no fancy lights or frills, starting with staples “KC Accidental” and “7/4 Shoreline” before switching to its new album.
Scottish band Chvrches followed at the big stage, drawing a large crowd with their bubbly synth pop.
In huge platform shoes and pretty in pink – her skirt billowed as she traipsed and twirled across the stage — frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, twirled, jumped and traipsed across the stage – sounding great on “Clearest Blue,” “Mother We Share” and “Never Say Die.”
Festival-goers on the Polo Field also could enjoy non-musical diversions — clearly a big part of the Outside Lands experience: At a Hint water photo booth, people actually were lining up for a chance to get a branded photo with balloons. An OK Cupid booth offered face painting and branded swag for new customers. And a Hendrick’s Gin booth had a guy was frantically pedaling a stationary big wheel bicycle all day long while another man stood juggling on stilts in a faintly steampunk Edwardian get-up — a hell of a way to make a living or sell booze.
A “crafts” booth area had an odd assortment of locally made clothing and shoes, snack food, jewelry, hats, bags and odds and ends.
At seemingly the busiest time at Outside Lands — Saturday early evening, when everyone’s off work and ready for the night — indie folk band Bon Iver grabbed attention with a slow, atmospheric set. Lead singer Justin Vernon was surrounded by five horns as his voice reached higher and higher.
Over at the smaller Sutro stage, jazzy electronic outfit Big Gigantic – with big booming bass and saxophone – filled the field, followed by English DJ Jamie xx of the band The xx, who spun electronic records that grew louder and seemingly more repetitive as the evening turned to night. The area was so packed that fans near the back could barely at first tell the set had started.
The same thing was going on in Hellman Hollow, where electronic sounds by Whethan (Chicago DJ Ethan Snoreck in his first OSL appearance) and Illenium (Colorado DJ Nicholas Miller, opening with “Where’d U Go”) permeated the scene.
Things were markedly more mellow in Marx Meadow at the indoor Barbary, the spot for comedy and politics. Early in the day, Gavin Newsom got in a few words; later in the evening, a set being broadcast on a screen outside provided nice relief from the crushing crowds, and folks could easily sit at empty picnic tables and enjoy the show.
Pat Regan had a funny bit about being gay and his obsession with cell phones, while Taylor Tomlinson, admittedly wearing a jean jacket from Express, got in a great line about being perplexed and entertained by the fashion scene at Outside Lands, saying she somehow didn’t think to wear her “fur parka Jedi uniform.”
Over on the calm side of Lindley Meadow, Eddie Huang played bass and rapped while some of the festival’s more mature patrons enjoyed beverages from Wine Lands.
Meanwhile, fans who came for the music but wanted the marijuana could get a sniff at Grass Lands. The weed display was a 21+ area up the hill from the Polo Field that included a pot smelling station, a spot to build a bong out of fruit and a casually placed Prop. 65 warning. Oddly enough, no marijuana was for sale. You’d have to make friends elsewhere for that.
At the end of the night, fans had to choose between indie rock band Florence + The Machine and rapper Future.
Future closed out the night at Twin Peaks with his hit “Mask Off,” while bold yet ethereal frontwoman Florence Welch commanded the Lands End stage with her group’s haunting indie rock, and preached love and kindness.
Channeling Stevie Nicks, the English singer opened with “Hunger,” “Only If For One Night,” “Sweet Nothing” and “South London.”
She said, “My heart hurts a lot these days, but I’m with you. I believe in you. I believe in love.”
Before the hit “Dog Days,” she appealed to everyone in the crowd – front, back and sides – to “tell a stranger you love them.”
More amazingly, after asking, “Do you trust me?” and warning that people would feel uncomfortable, she got her followers to put their phones down.
On to day three!
— Michael Barba and Sara Gaiser contributed to this report