Exclusive Features
Anniversaries, Cover Stories, Editorials,
Interviews, Lists, and Comprehensive Rankings

Outside Lands 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

on August 08, 2016, 4:15pm
view all

Most Likely to Convert the Nonbelievers

Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper certainly made his presence felt at Lollapalooza last weekend, but isn’t it a little weird that he didn’t warrant a headlining set in his own hometown? Not to worry. Chano’s Sunday afternoon showcase at Outside Lands more than made up for any perceived slight, and it let Bay Area residents in on a secret that Chicagoans have known for a long time: Nobody’s making more vital hip-hop than the kid from 79th. Chance brought his boy Donnie Trumpet along for the ride this time, and the live instrumentation gave his set some extra oomph it didn’t even need in the first place. After cycling through some Acid Rap standouts, Chance launched into his standout verse on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” and proceeded to run through the highlights of his recent mixtape, Coloring Book. It would have been nice for West or even frequent collaborator Jamila Woods to make an appearance, but that’s probably asking for too much. After all, Chance is the last guy who needs to call on outside help. –Collin Brennan

Best Way to Cope With Mortality

Sufjan Stevens

Dressed like ET going out to a rave, Sufjan Stevens donned his massive angel wings and got down to breaking hearts. He opened with “Seven Swans”, after which he smashed his banjo. If “Seven Swans” doesn’t strike one as a song that would lead to instrument destruction, then you don’t know Stevens very well. Contrasting outlandish garb and tin foil-covered stilts with poignant melodies about life’s most ethereal quandaries, he once more confirmed himself as one of the most engaging live performers around. During “4th of July”, Stevens actually managed to turn the cresting chorus of “we’re all going to die” into a beatific rallying cry, urging the crowd to sing along to the morbid sentiment with gleeful abandon. We are all going to die, but until we do, there’s Sufjan Stevens to remind us of life’s joys. –Zack Ruskin

Best Local Act Poised to Breakout

Con Brio

Holy shit, man. Con Brio. Con fuckin’ Brio. This Bay Area-based soul septet is a lean, mean, festival-slaying machine if their performance on Saturday evening was any indication. Though they’ve been around since 2013, they only recently released their debut full-length album and — Whoa! Watch out! — that’s the sound of a killer local band getting ready to explode on the national scene.

In an era when too many festivals feature the same acts, it’s up to long-running fests like Outside Lands to book the best local talent the city has to offer, and the organizers did a hell of a job getting Con Brio on board this year. Led by frontman Ziek McCarter and bolstered by the “Hallelujah Horns” of Marcus Stephens and Brendan Liu (the latter of whom literally can’t stop smiling), the band comes across like a party punk version of Sly and the Family Stone — another band SF locals might be familiar with. McCarter literally cartwheeled and backflipped his way across the stage on Saturday, stopping for just long enough to belt out the lines to songs like “Free & Brave”, a powerful response to the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of people lament the talent drain San Francisco has experienced in recent years, but McCarter and Con Brio have enough talent to support the whole damn city on their own. Outside Lands 2016 will go down as one of their (many) coming-out parties. –Collin Brennan

Click ahead for an exclusive gallery from Outside Lands 2016.

view all