As August rapidly approaches, that could only mean one thing: festival season is in full swing. Amidst the numerous music festivals that take place over the world, one in particular bears mention. Outside Lands, taking place August 10–12 in Golden Gate Park is a three-day fairytale-esque adventure for an experience that is more than just a music festival. Boasting both Beer Lands and Wine Lands and a host of gourmet food options, you can quite literally drink fine wine while catching some of your favorite acts. Therein lies the real reason people come to Outside Lands: the music (and potentially Nombe’s irresistible Ramenburger).
Hosting some of the best and most coveted names in music, Golden Gate Park will be aflush with the sounds of folk, electronic, pop, indie rock, hip-hop, and everything in between. From even a cursory glance at the top of the lineup, it is made immediately clear that this is one of the year’s not-to-miss festivals. Whether it be The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine, Future, James Blake, Janet Jackson, DJ Snake, or Chvrches that get you going, there is something here for everyone.
However, some of the best talent is hidden in the undercard, and we are here to uncover that hidden talent. There are our ten acts you have to catch at this year’s Outside Lands and a helpful playlist to get you familiarized with every one of them.
When & Where: Friday, 12:15pm at Sutro
Music is bigger than the sum of its parts. Truly great and lasting music is that which has something to say. Nick Mulvey creates that special sort of music. The London-based songwriter originally found his start as an active member in Mercury Prize-nominated contemporary jazz band before becoming to prominence as a solo artist. Since the transition, Mulvey has gone on to release two critically acclaimed full-length albums, 2014’s First Mind and 2017’s Wake Up Now, in addition to earning a Mercury Prize-nomination himself. Through his guitar prowess and warm vocals, Mulvey tells stories of people beyond the singular, sharing tales of the disenfranchised and those without a voice.
When & Where: Friday, 1:30pm at Sutro
Dermot Kennedy strikes a profound balance in his work. It is stunning, haunting, and speaks to an unfathomable sadness without sacrificing its underlying sense of beauty. The soaring Irish talent found his first bout of success following the release of his debut EP, Doves & Ravens, a four-song collection of empathic, introspective lyrical genius. Yet, his latest outing, which may just be his most noteworthy to date, saw the release of Mike Dean Presents: Dermot Kennedy. An EP which saw this remarkable songwriting talent link up with legendary producer Mike Dean, of Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Beyoncé fame, turned out to be the album we never knew we always needed. The pairing was an unexpected match made in heaven.
When & Where: Friday, 2:20pm at Lands End
23-year-old independent singer, songwriter, and producer Lauv originally believed he would spend his days penning pop hits for some of today’s biggest stars, and he was half-right. Lauv certainly did go on to produce hits for the likes of Demi Lovato, Cheat Codes, and Charli XCX, but in 2014 he took the internet by storm with a release of his own. With the release of “The Other,” which has since its release garnered over 160-million plays on Spotify alone, Lauv stepped into the spotlight as an electrifying solo artist. The independent artist quickly followed this up with another smash hit, “Chasing Fire,” a veritable pop anthem that is designed for the dancefloor and the noteworthy debut album I met you when I was 18. (the playlist).
When & Where: Friday, 4:30pm at Panhandle
Caleborate is the Bay Area native whose stream-of-conscious rap style is leaving a lasting effect on both its fans and the scene at large. His latest album, 2017’s Real Person is the sonic embodiment of Caleborate as a rapper, forgoing the opulence and hype culture that surrounds much of modern-day hip-hop. Instead, the Berkeley rapper finds his strength in unconventional bar structures and deconstructing real-word experiences. Altogether, it makes for a rap project that is relatable, at times strikingly vulnerable, and begging for repeated listens. With Outside Lands serving as a home turf show for the up-and-coming emcee, Caleborate will undoubtedly be bringing his A-game.
When & Where: Saturday, 12:00pm at Sutro
When it comes to unexpected yet mesmerizing talent, Kikagaku Moyo may just be the band to beat on this year’s lineup. The Tokyo-based psychedelic band crafts expansive soundscapes full of twists and turns that are transcending both musical barriers and their native country’s. The band’s clear level of artistry extends to every aspect of their work, as their cover art for each album is as wonderfully psychedelic as their music. Yet, simply describing them as a phenomenal psych-rock band is a terrible disservice. Combining elements of krautrock, Indian ragas, and acid folk, listening to Kikagaku Moyo’s music is an escape into another world entirely.
When & Where: Saturday, 1:05pm at Lands End
Beyond The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees-inspired aesthetic of Pale Waves lies an array of shimmering electropop bliss. Taking the synth-laden approach of the aforementioned bands and combining it with modern pop sensibilities, Pale Waves is pure pop perfection that belongs to no particular generation. The Manchester-based quartet first found their start in 2010, following a chance meeting at a liquor store and have since gone on to collaborate with Matt Healy of the 1975, have released an array of exceptional synth-pop singles, and treated the world to their standout debut EP, 2018’s ALL THE THINGS I NEVER SAID. The series of releases have been in anticipation of their long-awaited debut album, My Mind Makes Noises, and Outside Lands will undoubtedly be one of the first places you will get to hear some of it live.
When & Where: Saturday, 1:25pm at Panhandle
London’s Freya Ridings creates a different type of anthem. Utilizing the raw, emotional power of her voice, Ridings’ music is commanding and seems to shout out upwards towards the heavens. The 23-year-old artist has only four official single releases to date, including her breakthrough self-released debut single “Lost Without You.” But that is not to say Ridings is lacking in material, as she has released two sprawling live albums. An uncommon yet brilliant decision, as Ridings absolutely shines in a live environment. The magic of the experience feels as if it is bleeding from the speakers, and festivalgoers will be lucky enough to witness this rare opportunity first-hand.
When & Where: Sunday, 12:40pm at Lands End
Kailee Morgue’s rise to fame was unexpected and rapid, to the say the least. Sharing a song she was currently writing in a tweet and Instagram post, Morgue humbly said, “I apologize for my voice cracking and the unflattering angles, but here’s something I’m working on.” Those posts would soon go viral overnight and land the young artist a deal with Republic Records who fully released the song she was working on, “Medusa.” The standout track is hauntingly beautiful; it is truly no wonder why it went viral before it was even finished. While the story of “Medusa” will likely be one for the ages, it s not her only accomplishment to date, as Morgue’s recent efforts have seen collaborations with both Whethan and Quin XCII.
When & Where: Sunday, 12:45pm at Panhandle
Aquilo’s music is that of heartbreak, loss, and regret, but take a closer look within and you will find a flicker of hope. Comprised of Tom Higam and Ben Fletcher, the British duo craft downtempo electronic music that is brimming with their knack for the atmospheric and melancholic. Their highly-anticipated debut album Silhouettes arrived in 2016, following a string of EP releases and collaborations with superstar producers Vanic and Madeon. Since its release, Aquilo has kept busy touring and producing an equally somber yet pleasing sophomore effort, in the form of 2018’s aptly titled ii. With a wellspring of haunting tracks to pull from, Aquilo’s set is destined to be pure magic as the San Francisco fog rolls in.
When & Where: Sunday, 3:40pm at Sutro
Sabrina Claudio found her start covering artists on Youtube. From Hiatus Kaiyote, Frank Ocean, to Beyoncé, there was no one who Claudio couldn’t seemingly reach with her velvety vocals. Developing a strong fan base before her official release, her debut EP Confidently Lost was received to universal acclaim. A collection of low-key, piercing ballads, Claudio’s brand of sultry R&B is heaven to the ears, and she soon gave us even more to feast on. Her most recent and full-length debut album About Time, which features an appearance by Atlanta rapper 6LACK, is yet another showcasing of what a timeless talent this rising star is. Claudio makes the sort of R&B that spans decades.