Outside Lands 2021, Day 3: The Openers (Yves Tumor, mxmtoon, Nelly, Sofi Tukker)

Yves Tumor at Outside Lands 2021
Outside Lands/Courtesy

On the final day of Outside Lands, artists brought on performances deserving of titles such as most affecting, youthful, best throwback and most majestic. 

Most affecting: Yves Tumor

Highlights: “Jackie,” “Crushed Velvet,” “Noid” 

Yves Tumor and Its Band stormed the Twin Peaks stage Sunday afternoon, delivering an intense, rapturous performance with enough zeal that it felt like religion. The artist barreled straight into “Gospel for a New Century” with the titanic force of a 1000-piece orchestra, cueing the comparably small crowd in on the affecting set to come.

Yves Tumor at Outside Lands 2021

Outside Lands/Courtesy

Clad in crushed velvet and looking like an otherworldly, androgynous figure as they paced around the stage, Tumor’s show had no nonsense and all hypnotic music. Abrasive, cyclical songs pummeled through the airwaves without relief, sharp bass notes and heavy-hitting drums resonating so deep you could feel them in your bones. Doubled up and drenched in reverb, Tumor’s deep, howling vocals simultaneously reached for the sky while piercing the depths of the soul.

The band made its way through goth, ’80s-tinged romps such as “Jackie” and “Dream Palette,” diving further into the sounds of punk, metal and experimental R&B. This reached its peak at the midway point of the set when the band performed “Noid,” the supercharged industrial political anthem off of 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love. Punchy drums punctured the wailing drone of the guitars like bullets flying through walls with no cover, taking the song’s anti-police sentiments and search for salvation to their musical heights. 

Tumor’s show was a relatively underappreciated gem of the festival, attracting one of the smaller crowds the Twin Peaks stage saw that weekend. Their sound and aesthetic reveled in discomfort and liminal space. For those present to witness Tumor and Its Band on Sunday, it was a far cry from any of the other musical acts at the festival — and one of the most visceral, immersive sets of the entire weekend. 

— Vincent Tran

Best coming of age: mxmtoon

Highlights: “Prom Dress,” “Seasonal Depression,” “Blame Game” 

Singer-songwriter mxmtoon brought her Blue’s Clues-themed growing pains to the Outside Lands stage Sunday. Her music often toes the line between weariness and naivety and it’s exactly why it’s beloved. She sings as though she’s an old soul itching to escape the confines of a body on the cusp of a coming-of-age experience. Unconcerned that she drew a huge crowd, mxmtoon decided to make her show an intimate experience. There was little fluff onstage to distract from the angelic croon of her voice. 

mxmtoon at Outside Lands 2021

Kelly Nguyen/Senior Staff

Opening with “Falling for U,” mxmtoon immediately mesmerized the audience as she sang through the overwhelming spectrum of emotions that comes with growing. At the same time, she looked so small and alone on an expansive stage with just her ukulele, acoustic guitar and worn out Vans for company. It was a curious contrast that the audience celebrated.

As if to make up for the lack of theatrics, the crowd oohed and awed as loud as they could as she quickly ran off to change instruments. In the thick of stark lyrics like those in “Seasonal Depression” (“Trying to fool myself/ To lift up my frown”), the wild roaring and cheering never waned. It was as though the entire audience was holding its breath, ready to loudly praise anything else she would do. 

“Prom Dress,” one of the last songs she performed that night, had everyone singing along. “I’d be the prom queen if crying was a contest,” people of all ages loudly chanted alongside the singer. Getting lost in mxmtoon’s audience is like being immersed in a secret gathering of those still trying to figure themselves out. It was like being hidden away from the clamor of a festival’s festivities and instead, being transported to a cosmically correct space of diary-worthy rapport. 

— Kelly Nguyen

Best throwback: Nelly

Highlights: “Hot in Here,” “Ride Wit Me,” “Dilemma”

Early 2000s music icon Nelly sauntered on stage for his 3 p.m. set with all the swagger of a young man in his 20s, ready to drop some bars and blow some minds. Playing hit after hit, Nelly invited fans into a nostalgic time capsule that was both fun and memorable. After hearing each song, fans immediately recognized and sang along, causing Nelly to adopt a huge smile on his face throughout the set.

Nelly at Outside Lands 2021

Pooja Bale/Senior Staff

In typical Nelly fashion, the artist asked the single ladies to cheer, just as he did back in the day, to which countless fans duly complied. He thanked his fans multiple times for sticking with him and making him the only artist of all time to have No. 1 charting rap, R&B, country, mixed genre, Top 40 and pop singles. He encouraged “those who have been riding with Nelly since day one” to sing along, touting that they knew all the lyrics.

True to his brand, Nelly even covered all these genres in his set, transitioning from “Ride Wit Me” to a cover of “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line, the latter track on which he’s featured. However, Nelly saved the best for last, ending with “Hot in Here,” “Dilemma” and “Just a Dream,” three of his most famous songs. He rapped along flawlessly and with unbounded enthusiasm, even joined on stage by his brother and fellow rapper City Spud.

Nelly’s enthusiasm and gratitude made for a fun yet endearing performance, his raps smooth and timeless as if he never stopped topping the charts and dominating today’s hits radio stations.

— Pooja Bale

Most majestic hip-thrusting: Sofi Tukker

Highlights: “Purple Hat,” “Drinkee,” “Awoo” 

American-German duo Sofi Tukker, made up of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, wanted to bring friendship and Halpern’s buttocks to the forefront of the performance Sunday night. Whooping, hollering, jumping and Halpern’s occasional pelvic thrusting only enlivened arguably one of the best crowds the weekend has seen. 

It was in large part due to the duo encouraging fans to make friends in between sets with fellow members of “Freak Fam,” also known as Sofi Tukker’s fandom, and refusing to let anyone just stand. Sweaty, tired feet and stomachs filled with overpriced food be damned. The duo commanded jumping, screaming, hand-raising and whooping as requisites for enjoying the show. 

SofiTukker at Outside Lands 2021

Kelly Nguyen/Senior Staff

There was no limit to the twosome’s multitasking on stage. Hawley-Weld shrieked during “Swing,” as Halpern fiddled with musical elements of every song from scratch on his mix pad and the virtual drum set displayed behind them. Then, Hawley-Weld was responsible for tasks such as running across the stage while strumming her electric guitar while Halpern proceeded to make the palpitating, growl and demonic shouting of “F*ck They” even more throbbing as he jumped around on stage. For most of the show, the choreography consisted of the two trying to shove their crotch as high to the sky as possible, which the crowd promptly ate up.

The twinkling, psychedelic house beat and a springy guitar riff of closer track “Drinkee” lit the crowd alive once more. Bouncing between a melange of Portuguese and gibberish that would give even the Duolingo bird a run for its money, Hawley-Weld was overwhelmed with emotion as she sang. She dropped to her knees, belting out the lyrics over a buoyant Yamaha drum machine beat. The entire experience wouldn’t have been as electrifying as it was without the pure exuberance of the performers. “Good energy, and spread it around!” she yelled before stepping off stage. By the end of their show, smooth synthetic soundwaves and unadulterated bliss seeped through the brains of everyone watching.

— Kelly Nguyen

Vincent Tran is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].
Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her at @callmepbj.
Contact Kelly Nguyen at [email protected].