The second weekend of August is upon us, and with it comes San Francisco’s annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. The 12th edition of the festival is headlined by Paul Simon, Childish Gambino and Twenty-One Pilots — three acts that need no introduction. But beyond those obvious stars, a mix of established and up-and-coming artists make up the constellation of performers that will play the various stages of the weekend-long festival. To better introduce you to these lesser-known acts, we’ve paired some of them with bigger names based on shared appeal.
If you like Kasey Musgraves…
“Golden Hour” was the album of the year last year — both in the literal, won-a-Grammy-for-it sense, and for what it did in the broader culture. In a media landscape that’s increasingly fragmented and chaotic, with more and more artists made to essentially operate as niche acts, “Golden Hour” was an album that everyone could love. Musgraves, who broke through on the country scene around the start of the decade as an iconoclast that backed up progressive attitudes with old-school songwriting craft, used “Golden Hour” as a vehicle for musical experimentation. While the songs on the record revolve around a general pop-country feel, the mix of styles feels kaleidoscopic. Whether it’s the lite-disco of “High Horse” or the stripped-down balladry of “Mother,” Musgraves carries her songs confidently, and is sure to bring her charm to her set on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. at Land’s End stage.
then try Alex Lahey:
This Australian singer-songwriter hasn’t quite broken through in the U.S like she has in her native country, but we’re honestly missing out. Her “Best of Luck Club,” which came out in February, built on the deft songwriting of her 2017 debut album. At her best, like on album closer “I Want To Live With You,” Lahey can build a welcoming, cozy house out of a song, with precise lyrical details and a warm voice to carry them over well-wrought indie production. Watch her build on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. at Panhandle.
or Haley Heynderickx:
Hailing from Portland, this Filipino-American folk singer released one of the most underrated debut albums of last year with her “I Need to Start a Garden.” With a low, wise-sounding voice and an earthy style of finger-picked electric guitar, Heynderickx’s songs felt like things somewhere between old wives tales and incantations, full of oddball writerly touches and jokes that kept the album feeling like a beautiful spring day. Catch her live on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. at Sutro.
If you like Hozier…
The wildest thing about the large Celtic forest spirit who did “Take Me To Church” coming back from a four-year hiatus to drop a track explicitly playing tribute to the connection between American soul music and the Civil Rights Movement was that it kind of banged. Hozier’s return last year with “Nina Cried Power” was a surprise, but a welcome one— and “Wasteland, Baby!” his album from earlier this year, followed up on that promise. To get all folky and mystical, check out Hozier’s set at Sutro at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday.
then try Miya Folick:
Over the past 4 years, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Miya Folick has developed a resume as one of the most talented, versatile performers in indie rock. While her songs range from torch-y material like “God Is a Woman” (released two years before Ariana Grande, fyi) and grunge rock tracks like “Trouble Adjusting” to funky, horn-driven numbers like “Leave the Party,” Folick’s music is always anchored by her singular voice. It’s a dazzling instrument, capable of lending any lyrical sentiment a magical feeling. Hear it live at Panhandle at 2:55 p.m. on Friday.
or Weyes Blood:
Weyes Blood’s “Titanic Rising” is a leading candidate for 2019’s album of the year, and it doesn’t take long to see why. The songs on “Titanic Rising” are deep without being ponderous, novel in their sounds without being twee or obnoxious, diverse in palate while still feeling interlinked. Her observations about life and the world around her, carried by her calm, soothing voice, seem to have the wisdom of ancient proverbs, and the production flourishes around them almost seem theatrical, as if the whole album is some sort of grand production on an obscured stage. To recapture that magic live, see Weyes Blood on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. at Sutro.
If you like Lil Wayne…
Lil Wayne’s long awaited “Tha Carter V” finally dropped last year, and immediately reminded the world that Lil Wayne is one of the greatest rappers of all time. After years of slander from internet comedians and lazy guest verses from the Louisiana rapper himself, “Tha Carter V” made the case that years away from the limelight had strengthened his resolve and lyrical focus. He doesn’t have quite the chaotic energy of prime (2006-2008) Wayne, but he has a bit more introspection and songwriting craft. See what he’s up to (or just relive the glory days) at Lands End on Friday at 4:55 p.m.
then try CupCakKe:
If you’ve been keeping up with the Stanford music scene, you’ve probably heard of CupCakKe. The extraordinarily profane Chicago rapper was hosted by Kairos and EBF in Spring 2018, and it was one of the sweatiest gigs I’ve been to in my life. But CupCakKe’s appeal isn’t just in the obvious sex jokes (of course, there are a lot of those), but in her winning charisma and the wit she uses to string together those obvious sex jokes. Go get weird at Panhandle on Saturday at 6:10 p.m.
One of the leaders of a resurgent Oakland rap scene (more on that later), Allblack manages to come off as incredibly hard and moderately goofy at the same time. Yeah, there’s the standard street rap tropes about moving drugs and being armed and dangerous, but Oakland rapper also has tracks like “P’s and Q’s,” which is entirely about being scammed in an Airbnb and getting your watch stolen by a girl. And really, we all can relate to that. Go commiserate at 12:40 p.m. on Saturday at Twin Peaks.
If you like Anderson .Paak…
Anderson .Paak is 100% having the most fun of anyone at Outside Lands. Not only is he playing two sets on Sunday (3:10 p.m. at GastroMagic, one of the Festival’s culinary attractions, and 7:30 p.m. at Sutro), but he makes music that’s perfect for the festival scene. Whether he’s focused on rap (like on last year’s “Oxnard”) or R&B (like on this year’s followup, “Ventura”), .Paak’s songs are full of life, crammed with live music flourishes and jokes. His set will likely tilt towards his dance-y, funky material — if and when you check him out, prepare to move.
then try Tierra Whack:
If you prefer your rap prodigies more straightforwardly rap-ish, then Philly’s Tierra Whack has you covered. Fresh off an appearance as an XXL Magazine Freshman, as well as last year’s 15-minute, 15-track EP “Whack World,” Ms. Whack has made her case as one of the most lyrically dextrous, creative MCs in the game. While her style incorporates influences from many different areas of rap— the melodic flows used by Chicago natives like Valee, the triplets made famous in Atlanta, the dense punchlines of backpackers— Whack’s fusion is unlike any others. Witness it live at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday at Twin Peaks.
Another prominent new Oakland rapper, P-Lo’s blend of E-40-style flows and hyphy beats with more modern stylings is easy to like. He’s got an ear for a hook— I’ve had the hook for “Put Me On Somethin’,” his breakthrough single, stuck in my head for the better part of the summer. He might not have the most innovative take on Bay Area rap, but sometimes you just need something hyphy to get you going. Get hella lit at Lands End on Friday at 2:20 p.m.
If you like Flume…
Flume’s comeback mixtape, the inventively titled “Hi This Is Flume,” was one of the best electronic releases of the first half of the year, a loose, freeflowing collection of experimental tracks by the Australian DJ. He collabed with rappers like Baltimore weirdo JPEGMAFIA! He remixed Scottish producer SOPHIE! He released a song called “╜φ°⌂▌╫§╜φ°⌂▌╫§╜φ°⌂▌╫§╜φ°⌂▌╫§╜φ°⌂▌”! It was a weird and wonderful time, and his set on Saturday at 6:25 p.m. at Lands End will likely be one too.
then try Yaeji:
Yaeji’s music feels submerged and glassy, all synth sustains and repeated melodies that loop and shift until they’re almost hypnotic. Whether she’s remixing Drake or singing and producing her own tracks, the South Korean-via-NYC DJ is a master of slow builds and grooves, the kind of electronic dance music that you can just as easily get down to at the club or or cry to in your room alone. Do one of those two things Friday at 6:00 p.m. at Sutro.
or Half Alive:
Not going to lie: I found out about these guys through the power of the almighty YouTube algorithm — they had a music video with an elaborate dance routine, which is impossible to avoid. But the indie pop purveyed by this Long Beach trio is compelling even beyond viral fame — it’s groovy and deftly written without ever straining too hard. They play with sonic textures and melodies with ease without being too showy, making pop confections that don’t get old after multiple listens. Check them out in person, rather than online, on Friday at 1:05 p.m. at Lands End.