Outside Lands 2023, San Francisco, CA, August 11-13, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, March 2nd, 2024  

Janelle Monáe, Interpol, Megan Thee Stallion, Foo Fighters

Outside Lands 2023, San Francisco, CA, August 11-13, 2023,

Aug 16, 2023 Photography by Alive Coverage Web Exclusive
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The 15th anniversary of Outside Lands was an unforgettable culmination of the best of what the Bay has to offer. Taking place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the festival boasted the biggest names in music including Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion and Interpol. In addition to the stellar performance line-up, Outside Lands is also a culinary dream that once again featured a robust food and beverage menu to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Food was located throughout the festival grounds while drinks could be found at the designated areas Wine Lands, Beer Lands and Cocktail Magic. This year, almost 90% of the food line-up was created by minority and/or female led restaurateurs and chefs allowing attendees to try an impressive array of diverse dishes. To honor the various components of our Cali excursion, here is a complete breakdown of Under The Radar’s experience.

The Music

Outside Lands celebrated its 15th year by stacking its bill with the most talented performers in the game. Interpol played their seminal 2002 debut record, Turn On The Bright Lights, from start to finish. Shaquille O’ Neal transformed into DJ Diesel for a set that re-invigorated thousands of already rowdy festival goers. Janelle Monáe ’s set was just as enchanting as she was and featured hits from her latest album, The Age of Pleasure, as well as some of her older songs. Kendrick Lamar commanded the crowd with his poetic discography and Foo Fighters’ thrilling production was sealed by a surprise appearance from Michael Bublé (they performed Bublé’s hit “Haven’t Met You Yet”). All eyes, though, were on Megan Thee Stallion as she graced the stage for the first time since Tory Lanez was found guilty of shooting her in 2020. The “WAP” rapper graciously thanked her supporters and boldly told off her haters. Other acts included Lana Del Rey, Odeza, Maggie Rogers, Lil Yachty and Willow.

The Food

Attendees had an assortment of food to choose from during the event, as culinary offerings annually remain a prominent staple at Outside Lands. Options included everything from dumplings to tacos, pizza to Peruvian bowls and oxtails to oysters. In addition, there were also plenty of vegan as well as gluten-free options. Food was located throughout the Taste of Bay Area, VIP and Golden Gate Club and included: Lulu Berkeley (their Elote Arabe is pictured here), Baby Blues BBQ, Bun Mee Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery, Woodfish Fish Co., Pink Onion, Sweet July, Nizario’s Pizza, Izzy’s Cheesesteaks, Johnny Doughnuts, El Huarache Loco and Da Poke Man. A few UTR favorite items were the classic BLT from Baconland, a breakfast egg sandwich from Precita Park Cafe and an oversized peanut butter cup from Sharona’s Chocolate Shop.

The Drink

Wine Lands, Beer Lands and Cocktail Magic were areas located throughout the festival grounds and specialized in a variety of beverages for guests (there were also non-alcoholic choices as well). Combined, they showcased a total of 30 breweries, 40 wineries and 8 cocktail bars. Wine Lands featured samples from diverse and small-scale Northern California wineries such as Brick & Mortar, Charles Krug and The Zero Proof. Une Femme, whose founder is Jen Pelka and is a brand run by women, featured a special refreshment called The Betty: an airy sparkling white wine in brut style. Joseph-Jibril Wines’ chardonnay served as a citrus delight while their cabernet franc was a surprisingly pleasant combination of berries and spices. Beer Lands options included breweries such as Sonoma Springs, East Brother and Faction. Our favorite cocktail was courtesy of Gray Whale Gin and called “Coastal Tides,” a light and lavender concoction.

The Stay

Hotel Spero is a San Francisco gem that was renovated in 2018 and is tucked away near Union Square. It has become known for its stunning historical Spanish Colonial design that gives the buildingl its unique flare. Named to honor the magnanimous former owner Lizzle Glide (Spero translates to “hope” in Latin), the hotel brilliantly balances its historic elements with a modern-day feel. The lobby features original marble floors, hand painted ceiling beams and a plethora of captivating artwork. Hotel Spero contains 236 rooms with large windows full of natural light. Some of its most convenient amenities include high speed wi-fi, pet-friendly accommodations, onsite dining (Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen) and complimentary tea and coffee (6:00am-10:00am). Its elegance and cultural significance ultimately landed Hotel Spero a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco.

Hotel Spero (Image courtesy of Hotel Spero)
Hotel Spero (Image courtesy of Hotel Spero)

The Conclusion

Music festivals are rarely described as beautiful, but the festival’s backdrop of Golden Gate Park provided spectators with an urban oasis. Navigating eucalyptus trees covered in a string of lights led guests to find other indelible experiences aside from main stage acts. Dolores’ open air dance club provided a space for trans and queer communities to enjoy themselves. Soma Tent paid homage to house music all weekend long while the marketplace gave local vendors a chance to garner new customers. Grass Lands, the first curated cannabis experience at a major American music festival, provided consumers a premium experience. Shuttle buses that ran from Bill Graham Civic Auditorium directly to festival grounds made getting to Golden Gate Park a breeze. Overall, Outside Lands continues to effortlessly raise the bar for its competitors–and we can’t wait to go back next year.


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