No disrespect to legends like Radiohead or Stevie Wonder, but it’s about damn time Outside Lands booked a true, dyed-in-the-wool Bay Area headliner.
Sure, Metallica—who closed the second night of Outside Lands 2017—calls San Francisco home. But the band was actually formed in Los Angeles. Green Day, on the other hand, was founded by a pair of Oakland-born punks, who cut their teeth playing in dingy East Bay clubs like 924 Gilman before becoming one of the biggest pop punk bands in rock & roll history.
While we’re stoked to hear a Saturday night set that is sure to include “When I Come Around” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” the talent scouts at Another Planet Entertainment filled the rest of the festival with plenty of local talent.
Read on for a list of Bay Area-bred bands and transplants with strong hometown ties.
Friday, 12:05 – 12:50 p.m., Sutro
Oakland native Chrystia Cabral was earning comparisons to Kate Bush a year before Stranger Things introduced a whole new generation to Britain’s most precocious high-femme apparition. But the numbers behind her 2021 release, The Turning Wheel, support it. On that album, Cabral collaborates with more than 30 musicians, clear-cutting a wild array of sonic landscapes—often, as in “Boys at School,” within the same song. Reveling in her unclassifiability, Spellling’s vocals betray a love of restless experimentation, confidently delivering five- and six-minute-long songs into a world with no attention span.
Friday, 2:50 – 3:40 p.m., Lands End
The sprightly bassline on “All Around the World,” Snakehips and Duckwrth’s latest collaboration, undergirds the latter’s effortlessly upbeat persona. Raised in Los Angeles and an erstwhile resident of The Town, Duckwrth—born Jared Lee—is something of a direct musical descendant of Pharrell Williams and the Neptunes. He’s a rapper first, but one who subordinates his verses to a wide-ranging love for funk, R&B and a bit of house. He’s exactly the right choice for a mid-afternoon, main stage, Day One set, the act who greets tens of thousands of people who blew off work early.
Friday, 3:45 – 4:35 p.m., Twin Peaks
“If the tide takes California / I’m so glad I got to hold ya,” Ashe sings on “Till Forever Falls Apart,” a duet with FINNEAS (Billie Eilish’s brother, for the uninitiated). If twirling around in a field with pop royalty seems like the height of aspirational lovesickness, San Jose native and current Angeleno Ashe is a little too wry, to run headlong into a field of sunflowers. She can vamp it up with more than an echo of Sheryl Crow, but her debut (and, so far, only) full-length record, Ashlyn, roams from trust issues and vulnerability to genuine lamentations over the loss of a real-life sibling, via a Nashville-to-Netflix arc that’s nowhere near peaked.
Saturday, 12:05 – 12:45 p.m., Panhandle
After everything that’s happened in Florida this year, a song called “Mad at Disney” might sound like a bumptious anthem for queerphobic Proud Boys, but it’s actually an endearing track from Salem Ilese, the 22-year-old Mill Valley native who’s been co-writing songs with professionals for the better part of her life. Ilese is youthful enough that her song about Coke is actually about drinking soda on the beach, but she’s too soaring and emotive to be standard-issue mall-pop. Case in point: She was shrewd enough to anticipate the backlash to NFTs on “Crypto Boy.”
Saturday, 4:55 – 5:40 p.m., Panhandle
“Ain’t nobody the GOAT because we all the GOAT,” Symba concludes on the track of the same name, inverting the type of swagger we’ve come to expect from those who deem themselves the greatest of all time. But the thing is, this Bay Area-born rapper has a legit claim: a mixtape featuring collabs with heavyweights like Ty Dolla $ign, Too $hort and 2 Chainz even before his first full-length drops. (It’s because of Symba’s understated yet prodigious songwriting career, with credits from Jack Harlow to the Scooby Doo Movie.) Always preaching a gospel of uplift—“Ghetto Literacy”—he’s a gifted performer but a lyricist above all else.
Saturday, 5:30 – 6:20 p.m., Twin Peaks
Chill, almost to the border of hypnotic, the plant-watering rapper Larry June’s motto is “You’re Doing Good!”—a phrase that’s more a smooth nod to excellence than a tonic meant to calm late-millennial anxiety. June was born in 1991, and that transitional year is more or less the sun that shines on his entire output, from the orchestral “Private Valet” to July release “In My Pockets,” on which he drawls, “I like girls from Oakland / But I’m a Frisco man.”
Saturday, 6:20 – 7 p.m., Panhandle
The 600-thread count tenderness on Thuy’s 2021 I Hope You See This ran for only nine songs and 25 minutes. So the Vietnamese American singer-songwriter quickly capitalized on the demand for more, issuing a deluxe version that cemented her role as a pillow-soft source of comfort for people with too many feelings to deal with right now. Five years after KMEL’s Home Turf contest launched her to local prominence, Thuy (pronounced “twee”) excels at bedroom R&B—not in the sense of getting it on, but of working it out.
Sunday, noon – 12:45 p.m., Lands End
Sort of like an even-goofier Chromeo, perspiration-friendly Bay Area electro-funk trio Planet Booty is currently releasing one track every Friday from their newest album, a remixed companion to 2021’s YES. Having played their first-ever show in SF at Blue Parrot, a long-ago incarnation of the doomed space that’s currently Arena SF, Planet Booty has since parlayed their brand of amped-up body positivity into opening sets for Peaches, Lizzo, Escort and others. If you’re bummed about anything for any reason whatsoever on Sunday, go on and feel better.
Sunday, 12:30 – 2 p.m., SOMA Tent.
Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture “Wood Line,” occupies the cover of MPHD’s record Repetition, and the gentle sine curve of that site-specific work in the Presidio is a good metaphor for MPHD’s tech house output. A project by queer Black DJ Bradley Exum (known around town from parties like A Club Called Rhonda and for opening for LCD Soundsystem), MPHD throws open the SOMA Tent on Outside Lands’ final day in a back-to-back set with Tiffany Tyson—the festival’s goodbye breakfast, if you will.
Sunday, 6:10 – 6:40 p.m., GastroMagic
Sunday, 8 – 9:35 p.m., Twin Peaks
St. Ignatius alum Nick Miller, better known as Illenium, may be the biggest name to emerge from the future bass scene. On the strength of a trilogy of emo-tinged electronic albums—Ashes, Awake and Ascend—this self-described sadboi and lover of Japanese percussion has accrued some 5 billion streams and a Grammy nomination. Being thrust into the unenviable position of closing out Sunday night against Post Malone and Mitski might doom someone with a less-loyal fan base, but the “Illenials” are sure to turn out. You can also catch him paired with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio earlier in the evening at GastroMagic.
Sunday, 8 – 9:35 p.m., SOMA
If there’s one thing lacking from a festival that clears out well before midnight, it’s techno. Born in SF, Avalon Emerson is a DJ and producer seemingly transported straight from Berghain’s Panorama Bar, one whose beats are tempered by occasional dashes of tropical radiance and Todd Terje-esque camp. For local cred, Emerson has a track called “Church of SoMa” and she’s closing out the weekend at the SOMA Tent. If you need another reason to see her, Emerson also covers the very best Magnetic Fields song, “Long-Forgotten Fairytale.”
Peter-Astrid Kane can be reached at [email protected]