Inside Outside Lands


Photo by Hollie Chiao



The stage went black and the crowd cheered as a deep voice began to slowly chant the band’s name to a beat. Suddenly, the lights illuminated Luke Steele, lead singer of Empire of the Sun, wearing his usual bold eyeliner and elaborate outfit. The energy was immediate at Twin Peaks, one of the two larger stages at the festival.

As soon as the music began, the entire crowd jumped up and down in sync. Their set consisted of fan favorites such as “Way to Go,” “Walking on a Dream” and “We Are the People.” Empire of the Sun has become very popular with their alternative electropop style and have already sold millions of records worldwide.

After three songs, a group of dancers came out on stage dressed in shiny body suits and gold headpieces. Their quirky costumes were eye-catching to say the least, but fit in nicely with their upbeat tracks and brightly lit backdrop. Their set evoked an energetic, feel-good vibe, and I smiled at the sight of such a blissful crowd.

My voice lost amongst the hundreds of people singing along, Empire of the Sun closed their act with one of their most popular songs titled “Alive.” Luke Steele left the audience roaring with cheers as he took two of his guitars and smashed them on the stage as the lights went dark. The band exceeded expectations with their performance at Outside Lands and made it a highlight of the festival



The set was low-key, but there were no props needed. The flashing blue lights, emo hair reminiscent of Avril Lavigne’s peak punk era and deep bass were enough for a crowd-wide jam session.

While producing her albumLife As a Dog”, Stanford graduate Kristine Flaherty lived in the Bay so it was no surprise that the crowd proudly sang with her. The heart-wrenching “Blood in the Cut” and the pounding bass of “High Enough” were balanced with her upbeat hit “It’s Strange,” featuring Louis the Child, who played later that day.

K. Flay’s twist on indie rock music exonerated female power, and her clash with vulnerability and confidence was an emotional rollercoaster. Unafraid to address topics such as sex, drugs and love, K. Flay’s presence was dangerous.

Everything from her songs’ underlying themes of loneliness, hope and heartbreak to her minimalistic outfit felt familiar to the head-banging attendees. After being blown away by her set at the Lands End stage, I followed her to the GastroMagic area, where she performed acoustic versions of some of her most popular tracks. She played down her former outfit with a jean jacket and hat, giving the small crowd an intimate college dorm vibe. Her soft, raspy vocals shone even brighter without a bass guitar or drummer in the back, filling each song with new, raw emotion.



From the moment Christopher Taylor, professionally known as SOHN, made his entrance, the crowd at the modest Panhandle stage was paralysed. It all started with his hat and cloak, a bold statement on his part. Backed by talented instrumentalists, SOHN proceeded to transfix those watching with multi-layered, incredibly textured sounds. Long before  his Outside Lands performance, SOHN had drawn his own path in the music community with his dark, indie-electronic music. His songs are enveloped in beautifully designed synth layers accompanied by a unique drum machine and his angelic vocals. From the first note, the crowd was stunned; I’d never heard anything like it live. The melancholic but uplifting songs paired beautifully with his voice, and the other instruments worked in perfect harmony. After playing some of his huge numbers such as “Hard Liquor,” “Conrad,” and “Signal” from his newest album, “Rennen” (2017), the singer wouldn’t leave the crowd without playing the biggest hits of his career. “The Wheel” and “Blood Flows” from his debut album, “Tremors”, were a powerful end to his set. Overall, SOHN’s charisma and talent made up an incredible show of the likes that I’d never seen before.