Outside Lands 2021: A return to hallowed ground

Outside Lands 2021 - crowdPhotos by Sarah Felker & Marc Fong // Written by Molly Kish //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 29th-31st, 2021 //

After postponing its 13th edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic and experiencing disappointing lineup cancellations in the months leading up to it, Outside Lands had quite a lot to make up for going into its 2021 relaunch for Halloween. Asserting themselves as hosts of the first “mega event” in Golden Gate Park during the pandemic, Bay Area concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment braved an entirely new entertainment landscape, time of year and crowd dynamic.

Following statewide safety protocols, attendees had to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination or a negative test result at all entrances before scanning their way inside the gates. Clear backpacks were enforced and costume guidelines were added to the laundry list of rules and regulations for all ticket holders. But even with the adjusted security measures and slight changes to the event’s production, concertgoers came out in record numbers. Averaging crowds of approximately 70,000 people per day, OSL 2021 wasn’t short of attendees willing to happily follow the new guidelines in order to return to the beloved three-day festival.

Outside Lands 2021

While at times the interactive experiences in 2021 seemed lacking with the obvious downplay of live art activations, comedy and representation of the Bay Area’s creative culture, OSL still provided a larger platform for community-based initiatives. This year the fest added a brand-new stage in the SOMA Tent, which focused on burgeoning talent across the local electronic scene, and also dedicated attention and space for both local and national non-profits with an extended Eco Lands footprint.

Relaunching OSL over Halloween weekend was one of the smartest pivots Another Planet could have made. The energy surrounding the holiday was palpable, providing a dialed-in event and location with an additional reason for both local and visiting attendees to celebrate. Costumed crowds filled the fields all three days and created an increasingly whimsical buildup to what felt like a triumphant return to the city’s historical Halloween legacy. With many hoping the holiday tradition would continue for years to come, OSL successfully stoked the sold-out crowd’s excitement for its return in August 2022.

Outside Lands 2021 - Moses Sumney


Moses Sumney

OUTSIDE LANDS 2021 AWARDS:

Headliner of the Weekend: Tyler, the Creator

Breakthrough Performance: The HU

Favorite First-Timer: Brijean

Best OSL Addition: SOMA Tent

Favorite Festival Food: Pork Lumpia from Abacá

Most Magical Cocktail: Silver Girl’s “St. Olaf’s Fizz”

Most Entertaining Activation: The Aperol Spritz Piazza

Best Wine Lands Pour: Brut Rose by Angels & Cowboys

Favorite OSL Night Show: Drama at Bimbo’s 360 Club

Most Popular Costume: Skeleton

Largest Crowd: RÜFÜS DU SOL

Biggest Dance Party: Khruangbin

Best Stage Production: Tame Impala

Funniest Band Interaction: The Neil Frances vs. Neal Francis beef

Local Standout: Kehlani

Most Impressive Pipes: Brittany Howard

Biggest Lasting Impression: Moses Sumney

Best Improvement: Open-air layout at The House by Heineken

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