n the final day of the festival, openers Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Kahan, beabadoobee, Grace Ives and Inhaler stunned with swagger and playful charm as headliners The 1975 and Odesza conjured a breathtaking finale to Outside Lands 2023.
Most hedonistic: The 1975
Highlights: “Robbers,” “The Sound,” “I’m In Love With You”
As dusk fell on Sunday evening, fans crowded the barricade and lit their cigarettes in anticipation for the Manchester indie-pop band The 1975.
Predictably pretentious and excessively retro, projected on large black and white screens, the band opened the show with its catchy, electronic “Looking for Somebody (To Love).” Pulling impressively from its entire catalog, The 1975’s set was stylistically diverse, both danceable and nostalgic. Songs such as “About You” were emotionally rich, while catchy pop anthems “The Sound” and “I’m In Love With You” gave the audience an opportunity to dance and let loose at the end of a long festival weekend.
Frontman Matty Healy smoked cigarettes and regularly swigged from a flask as he stumbled around the stage, his trademark “bad boy” persona and over-emphasized sweaty sultriness glaringly purposeful. Nonetheless, his notoriously controversial commitment to deviance was largely at bay.
“Our lawyers have told us not to say anything, but I—” Healy began, before cutting himself off with the opening riff to “It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You.”
In a surprising change of pace, the band ended the show with punk rock “People,” which began with Healy yelling roughly into a microphone. For longtime fans, who rarely see the song played live, it was an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime moment. For the average festival-goer, however, it was a jarring and questionable choice to finish on.
Surprisingly, the song received largely positive critical reception: Perhaps jarring and questionable are just what The 1975 does best.
— Vivian Stacy
Most pyrotechnics: Odesza
Highlights: “Selfish Soul” (with Sudan Archives), “Forgive Me,” “The Last Goodbye”
If there’s one thing that Odesza’s shows are known for, it’s pyrotechnics. It felt like the whispers about Odesza’s show were inescapable on Outside Lands’ third day: Everywhere you went it was, “you know they’ll have hella fireworks,” or, with a little less excitement, “the lasers are gonna be dope.”
Odesza, the electronic duo made up of Harrison Mills (also known as Catacombkid) and Clayton Knight (also known as BeachesBeaches), didn’t let its fans down. Over the years, the duo has solidified itself as one of the electronic genre’s top performers. They bring a top-notch light design to their shows, backed up by bundles of arresting fireworks.
Their music is known for its ability to work the organic into electronica, and from the Lands End stage, Mills and Knight managed to offer everyone on the Polo Field an equal chance for sumptuous nostalgia and frenetic, all-out raging.
Over the course of its set, Odesza ran through a healthy sampling of its catalog — with some extras. Early on, the duo brought out Sudan Archives for its remix of her “Selfish Soul”; later on, Izzy Biu joined Odesza onstage for “Forgive Me.”
As Odesza said “The Last Goodbye” and closed out Outside Lands 2023, the crowd lingered in the glow of the fading fireworks, hoping they’d have the chance to greet the group again.
— Dominic Marziali
Most (t)hot: Megan Thee Stallion
Highlights: “Simon Says,” “Thot Shit,” “Savage (Remix)”
Megan Thee Stallion didn’t do all that much rapping during her Outside Lands set, but she gets away with it. She’s hot, after all.
Megan, whose arrival to the Lands End stage was heralded as the opening line of “Her” rang out across the Polo Field (“tell your friends it’s her”), took to the stage with a confidence unseen at this year’s festival. Wearing a hot pink corset and matching leggings, Megan bedazzled the stage with easygoing swagger.
Her verve was infectious: As soon as Megan appeared onstage, the crowd started screaming, and didn’t stop until she walked off to “Girls in the Hood.” Over the intervening hour, Megan electrified the crowd with a raft of back-busting hits, from “Simon Says” to “WAP.” After an invigorating rendition of “Thot Shit,” in which Megan promises “finna graduate college,” she signed a fan’s graduation cap.
At the show, Megan broke her silence on Tory Lanez’s sentencing: “Fuck all my haters. None of the shit you was doing or saying broke me,” then invited “all the hotties to put they muthafuckin’ middle finger up.”
— Dominic Marziali
Most folksy (and funny): Noah Kahan
Highlights: “Northern Attitude,” “Dial Drunk,” “Stick Season”
At a musical festival often known for being overwhelming and overstimulating, Noah Kahan’s closing set on Day 3 created an oasis of much-needed intimacy and introspection.
The cover art of Kahan’s third studio album, Stick Season, features the Vermont-based folk singer standing against a backdrop of lush trees and misty mountains. Naturally, Kahan appeared right at home when he stepped onto the Sutro stage, surrounded by descending fog and stoic eucalyptus trees.
Atmosphere set, Kahan took the stage with “All My Love.” “You got all my love,” he repeated during the song’s final chorus. The crowd met his confession with deafening cheers, clearly indicating the feeling was mutual.
Throughout the night, Kahan’s rich, soulful vocals effortlessly navigated through a range of head-banging anthems and heartfelt ballads. “Subtle changе, shorter days/ Dead-eyеd, dead weight,” he bellowed in “Your Needs, My Needs,” his weariness and frustration illuminated by the red glare from the stage that filled the forest. Later, as Kahan fervently called back to his New England roots in “Northern Attitude,” tree ring patterns swirled across the stage’s screen, transporting the crowd straight to Vermont.
Armed with a guitar and a beaming smile for the majority of the evening, Kahan diffused the Bay Area chill with his self-deprecating humor and innate personability. “If anyone that you love finds happiness and success, and you haven’t found it yet and you’re struggling — Outside Lands, I beg you to drag that motherfucker back down with you,” he said with a cheeky grin before moving onto “New Perspective.”
Kahan expressed how surreal it felt to be the last performer at Sutro for the entire festival. Yet, as he closed his set with a riveting rendition of viral hit “Stick Season,” he proved well deserving of his headliner status.
— Anne Vertin
Most whimsical: beabadoobee
Highlights: “10:36,” “The Perfect Pair,” “Glue Song,”
Nestled among the forested hills of Twin Peaks, Beatrice Laus — better known as beabadoobee — brought the whimsy of Beatopia to Outside Lands for the first time. Beaming as she swayed onstage, the Filipino-English artist sported a leather jacket, lace biker shorts, and a gray t-shirt jokingly announcing, “We are a beabadoobee cover band,” in all caps.
Against a black backdrop, the screen unveiled the abstract graphic cover art from Laus’ second studio album. Vivid splashes of magenta, turquoise, and orange lured listeners into Laus’ prismatic world, as she opened with the spirited “Talk.”
Throughout the set, Laus switched between multi-shaded guitars further reflecting her colorful persona — pastel green for “Don’t get the deal,” chocolate brown for “See you Soon” and neon pink for closer “Cologne.”
Equal parts indie pop and pop punk, Laus showcased versatility on the Twin Peaks stage as honeyed vocals melded with acoustic instrumentals and vigorous electric guitar riffs alike. Fan favorites like the bossa nova-inspired “the perfect pair” and endearing “Glue Song” (dedicated to her cats) left the audience chanting, “Give it up for beabadoobee!” long after Laus had left the stage.
— Anne Vertin
Most in vogue: Grace Ives
Highlights: “Lullaby,” “Mirror,” “Mansion”
Grace Ives took to the Outside Lands stage not once, but twice. Flipping her thick curls around and sporting a loose black two piece and dark glasses, the singer-songwriter was effortlessly cool — unsurprising for a New York-based synth pop artist.
Ives’ stage presence was magnetic, somehow simultaneously detached and passionate. She danced loosely around the stage, putting her whole torso into the music — especially fitting for her cathartic, controlled hit “Loose.”
The draw of Ives’ artistry is her overlay of electronic synths with lyrically profound, poetic observations — this intoxicating concoction creating a uniquely versatile style, equally good for strutting or sobbing. Live, it’s magnified by her commitment to the energy: “I do a split on the kitchen floor,” she sang in “Lullaby,” dropping into a split onstage.
In both her performances on Sunday, Ives’ impressive vocals and moves managed to outshine even some of the weekend’s bigger names.
— Vivian Stacy
Most electrifying: Inhaler
Highlights: “Valentine,” “Love Will Get You There,” “Just to Keep You Satisfied”
Inhaler knows how to breathe life into an audience.
The Irish rock band — lead vocalist and guitarist Elijah Hewson, bassist Robert Keating, guitarist Josh Jenkinson and drummer Ryan McMahon — brought their trademark electricity to Twin Peaks on Saturday.
Clad in a denim jacket, white top and jeans, Hewson was all understated swagger as he opened with “These Are The Days,” the lead single from the band’s second studio album Cuts and Bruises. Keating and Jenkinson moved with similar ease, tossing back their heads with carefree abandon during “Who’s Your Money On?” and swaying to the beat of the yearning “Valentine.”
The band’s chemistry — developed over the past decade — mirrored their ability to connect with the exhilarated audience. “Hello, you,” Hewson greeted with effortless charm, looking out at a fan close to the barricade. “Nice to see you again.” The concert goer in question screamed and waved eagerly in response, filled with an excitement reinforced by the cheers of the entire crowd.
Concluding with the soaring vocals and echoing guitars of “My Honest Face,” Inhaler proved to be a breath of fresh air among the fog and hazy smoke obscuring Golden Gate Park.
— Anne Vertin