The first day of Outside Lands 2022 sees SZA shine…and a young crowd descend on Golden Gate Park

On the first day of Outside Lands 2022, a young crowd – consisting of twenty-somethings dressed in Coachella-appropriate costumes – gathered in Golden Gate Park … where friendships were tested when choosing between the conflicting set times of SZA, Phoebe Bridgers and Disclosure.

In a welcome atmospheric relief, the usual cold haze of Karl The Fog gave way to warmer-than-expected weather Friday at Golden Gate Park. Yesterday’s afternoon sets included Faye Webster, the 23-year-old Atlanta songwriter whose clean albums go like hot honey, and Melbourne-based Hiatus Kaiyote, the band who perform a number of songs from their latest album, valiant mood. (If some of the sounds from yesterday’s Hiatus Kaityote triggered a bout of deja vu, it’s probably because you may have heard those sampled beats on songs by The Carters [Beyonce & Jay-Z]Kendrick Lamar and others.)

Friday’s general on-site jubilation – punctuated by moments of sky-high food prices and nods to 2000s fashion choices worn by Gen Z-goers – felt a bit premature at the pace of festival season . Not ten months had passed since the annual music festival, which went completely virtual in 2020, ushered in legions of ‘Lizzbians’ to tread Lands End to watch Lizzo command the current crowd over the past weekend of Halloween.

Everything felt a little too much. Exhausting. But with the OSL returning to its usual scheduled August slot, the start of yesterday’s festival was a welcome nod to pre-COVID days.

Hawk-eyed attendees were also quick to notice that the double arched wooden windmills of yesteryear had been replaced by a solitary glass and steel tower windmill. It was the most visible change from this year’s Outside Lands festival – this double Instagram-trap windmill with a new, more steampunky single Instagram-trap windmill that’s very dazzled by LED lighting systems.

The Chronicle has some chatter on the subject, citing attendees who were “pretty disappointed” with the loss of something they called “pretty iconic”. But Outside Lands creative production manager William Irons told the Chronicle that “years of time have forced us to retire” the old double wooden windmill, which makes sense they’re using the same since 2008.

The crowd on Friday appeared more lax about COVID-19 than a year ago; for 2022, there were no mandatory vaccine checks or overt recommendations to mask up during the festival.

Maybe it’s a surrender to a new normal. Perhaps it’s apathy born of utter exhaustion – made all the more tiring by the current rise in recorded cases of monkeypox in the Bay Area.

Either way, the current surge of synchronous virus outbreaks in San Francisco is no excuse to thwart “the opportunity to have a good time.”

“This year you don’t have to mask up, you don’t have to provide proof of vaccine, you don’t have to do some of the things you’ve done in the past,” Mayor Breed proclaimed at a press conference with Another Planet Entertainment festival producers the day before the event. “I know in a big city like San Francisco we have our challenges, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the opportunity to have a good time… Just be aware. If you don’t feel well, don’t come.

This year’s Sapphire Lounge presented by Chase is an ode to advanced capitalism, and you’re not allowed in to enjoy luxury seating with the premium view of the Twin Peaks stage unless you’re a cardholder. Chase Sapphire. The folks at this “brand activation” informed SFist that you can scan a QR code and apply for a Chase Sapphire card on the spot, and hope to get approved amid patchy cell coverage to get in.

SFist has not tried this.

People packed Lands End tighter than yellowfin tuna in a tin can before Lil Uzi Vert took the stage before his scheduled 7 p.m. The rapper, whose name has become synonymous with eccentric hairstyles and androgynous fashion, thrilled a huge crowd who were left gobsmacked by his kinetic performance. Washed Out provided early nostalgia for fans who tuned into the chillwave genre that dominated much of the 2010s soundscape.

At 8:25 p.m., partnerships and friendships were tested as what was either a massive omission from the lineup or a sneaky one against the fandoms came to fruition: the nightly sets of Phoebe Bridgers, SZA and Disclosure… which were all set to start within 20 minutes of each other. (Bridges began fading from a mic stand shrouded in Christmas light at 8:30 p.m. in Twin Peaks; SZA’s long-sleeved ruffled top began swaying in the wind at Lands End around 8:45 p.m.; lasers danced and refracted the atmospheric haze of the park before 8:25 p.m. Friday.)

To his axiom, the first day of Outside Lands was as familiar as it had been in previous years. Outline lines still snaked through the general admission bathrooms. The hills started to get covered in mud as the shoes pounded the ground throughout the day. Food was on the plates and drinks were suspended for amounts of money which in any other setting would have caused stomach pains.

Nonetheless, the dizzying magic of dancing with friends – new and old – inside Golden Gate Park at OSL remains brighter than ever. The task now is to assess how powerful the witchcraft of today and tomorrow shines.

If you didn’t attend OSL’s first festival day of 2020, don’t worry. Feel free to vicariously experience some of our favorite moments captured in digital stills, below:

Photo: Courtesy of Alive Coverage via Grandstand Media
Photo: Courtesy of Alive Coverage via Grandstand Media
Photo: Courtesy of Joe Kukura/SFist
Photo: Courtesy of Alive Coverage via Grandstand Media
Photo: Courtesy of Joe Kukura/SFist
Photo: Courtesy of Joe Kukura/SFist
Photo: Courtesy of Alive Coverage via Grandstand Media
Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Bromfield/SFist
Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Bromfield/SFist
Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Bromfield/SFist

Related: The Cocktail Magic of Outside Lands features an LGBTQ-themed bar concession

Top photo: Courtesy of Alive Coverage via Grandstand Media

SFist editors Jay Barmann and Joe Kukura contributed written coverage to this article.

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