Outside Lands 2018 revealed its lineup a few weeks ago, but you can be forgiven if you’re still spinning like we are from the absolutely stacked bill of bands and artists who are slated to perform. Like FYF in Los Angeles, Outside Lands will mark the return of pop superstar Janet Jackson, as well as performances by Florence and the Machine and The Weeknd.
Beck, Future, Odesza, Bon Iver, Portugal. the Man, Chvrches, N.E.R.D., James Blake, and Jamie XX are also all set to take part in the festival’s 11th year. This year’s lineup also marks a noticeable shift in the festival’s normally rock heavy foundation, with a greater inclusion of genre-spanning acts from pop and hip-hop. Yet, even in this Outside Lands has made an effort to book artists that exist on the fringes and a deep dive into the lineup reveals just as much.
With so many names on the lineup poster and so many things to do at the festival itself, it’s important to not find yourself overwhelmed and as such miss what could potentially be your next favorite band because of any oversight. Afterall, it is our humble opinion that one of the underrated joys of music festivals is the discovery of new acts. So in that spirit here are five must-see acts you cannot miss at Outside Lands 2018.
Gang of Youths
Hailing from Australia, Gang of Youths have made a number of breakthroughs in the states in recent years, but this will mark their first major music festival appearance in the U.S. Fronted by David Le’aupepe but made-up of a wildly talented collection of musicians, Gang of Youths unabashedly create some of the grittiest, life-affirming rock out there right now. Le’aupepe is a masterclass songwriter, singer, and performer, bringing to life the voracious intentions of their songs–many inspired by some of his own harrowing life experiences–to life onstage in a fit of arduously expressed emotion. Gang of Youths could burn down the main stage, and while we don’t know yet where they will be performing, wherever it is you better be there to have your face melted and your soul uplifted. A run-through of their albums, The Positions and Go Farther in Lightness, and all the dense, poetic lyrics and complex guitar-driven melodies therein is all you need to become enraptured with them.
Durand Jones and the Indications
As part of the underbelly for soul-representation at this year’s festival, Durand Jones and the Indications had little to no intention of ending up on the bill of one of the biggest music festivals on the West coast when they first got together. The titular Jones and his band went from playing to drunk undergrads at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he attended, to recording their debut in a basement and becoming a cult sensation among record collectors. With raw, blown-out vocals, bottomless grooves filled with organ swells, brass instrumentation, and leaden-percussion, Durand Jones and the Indications are bringing the ghost of Motown with them to Outside Lands. Songs like “Smile” and “Is It Any Wonder?” burn the candle at both ends, bouncing gleefully around upbeat rhythmics and offering the same burning passion with those effortless slow jams.
Born out of a chance meeting at a liquor store between vocalist / singer Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran, Pale Waves crafts midnight-bleached guitar-pop songs in the style of The Cure and The 1975. Jangly and rhythmic, the band has a penchant for tapping into a vein of synth-bleached pop that is anything but trite. Instead, infectious hooks, carefully ramped melodies, and Baron-Gracie’s piercing croon leave awash in the glittery allure of their brash romanticisms. The band released their debut EP, All the Things I Never Said, back in February which featured singles “The Tide” and “My Obsession.”
Incorporating blues, soul, and a healthy dose of rock, Sweet Plot’s performance will be ground zero for quite the party at this year’s festival. In recent years, pop-infused versions of blues-rock and folk have dominated indie-rock, offering-up watered down and hackneyed forms of the genre–Sweet Plot appears to be righting those wrongs, however. Formed by a dedicated family of musicians and artists, the band values its authenticity over anything else and bleeds the kind of rollicking tunes that win you over with their hot licks and aching but defiant lyricisms. Their live shows unfold less like a carefully planned concert with a setlist and more like a fiery jam session between close friends–which is exactly how the band started in the first place.
Berkeley-based rapper Caleborate doesn’t shy away from the daily grind of college-aged youth out of fear of dull material but instead lets the spotlight shine on it (and him) to the point that almost becomes surreal. Day-to-day worries and struggles blossom into something dually ordinary and miraculous, while the more chasm-deep pains like father-son relationships bubble underneath. Caleborate has already become something of a popularity in the Bay; so you can expect his crowd to be filled with the kind of hype that’ll push the set into a frenzy. But with three albums under his belt already, Caleborate doesn’t just have all the makings of a veteran performer–he raps like one too. His grating voice cuts across his beats, which alternate between minimalist and muffled backings to warped electronic ramblings.