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Finally, Outside Lands Books Headliners It’s Never Booked Before: Women

OSL gets its act together. 

It’s featured Kanye and Kendrick. Sir Paul and Sir Elton. Mumford and all his sons.

What Outside Lands has never had is a female headliner. Thankfully that’s set to be rectified this month when a pair of leading ladies get the nod for closing sets, marking the first time in the event’s 11-year history that women’s names have appeared at the top of the poster. Nasty gal Janet Jackson takes over the Sunday-night, festival-closing performance, while British wailer Florence Welch and company anchor Saturday’s lineup. (Crooner the Weeknd is 2018’s other top-billed performer.)

Outside Lands has, of course, had headliner-caliber women in years past: Lorde and Solange (2017), Lana Del Rey (2016), Erykah Badu (2011), and M.I.A. (2009) were all worthy of the distinction. Others, like Sia (2011), Kehlani (2016), and SZA (2015), became crossover stars after gracing the stage in Golden Gate Park. Yet the fact remains that Outside Lands—like many other festivals—has long been a boys’ club. Consider the 2015 lineup, in which only one of the top 20 performers was a woman (St. Vincent). Or the 2013 installment, when Karen O, of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kim Schifino, of electro duo Matt and Kim, were the only women among the first 20 acts on the bill.

While Outside Lands 2018 is still, admittedly, male dominated (among the other big names are Future, Beck, and Bon Iver), this year’s lineup at least represents a step in the right direction: R&B vocalist Janelle Monáe and the Scottish synth-pop group Chvrches, fronted by Lauren Mayberry, are both set to appear, along with bubblegum popster Carly Rae Jepsen—who, by the way, has more than a billion YouTube plays. So is this a preview of a gender-parity festival future? For now we’ll call it a maybe. Aug. 10–12

Originally published in the August issue of
San Francisco 

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