On the second day of the first San Francisco Music Festival, and for the second day in a row, the sun made a surprise headlining appearance.
I walked into the festival around noon with Alex, Oak Leaf’s editor, and we rushed to the second-furthest stage while getting rid of the longer layers we thought we’d need early. The ground was calm, as the storm of an estimated 75,000 attendees had not yet arrived in full.
As we walked, I listened to The Linda Lindas open the main stage for the day, and was impressed. The group includes four girls aged 11, 13, 14 and 17, but they sound way beyond their years. Their brand of bright punk rock, rainbow-colored outfits, and drawn mustaches made their show as sweet as they were badass.
22-year-old singer and TikTok star Salem Ilese opened the Panhandle stage. His unique sound blends Gen Z pop sensibilities with hard rock and other heavy influences, like Billie Eilish’s licorice chewing gum.
That’s not to say his music is cookie-cutter; Salem’s lyrics are a decidedly youthful take on pop culture, dating, the internet, and even something most artists don’t dare talk about: politics.
Halfway through her set, she did a remix of her most popular song “Mad At Disney” with her anger instead aimed at the United States Supreme Court for their decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. She followed that up with “Moment of Silence,” a song decrying bans on reproductive rights, gun violence, and this country’s refusal to address either.
Salem’s bubbly energy was reflected back at him by the crowd, who were thrilled to hear that the singer’s mother and father were in the audience cheering on their daughter. Her mother also brought homemade bracelets. Alex and I were lucky enough to receive bracelets from Salem herself after our interview, which will be featured in The Oak Leaf’s upcoming festival recap.
We watched emo rocker KeenyHoopla’s set from the media room, and it was a fun look at an up-and-coming alt-rock darling, but then we needed more food. For lunch, I ate a hot dog from Quik Dog which opened my eyes to a whole new world of hot dog cooking; instead of being baked whole, it was cut in half and placed on the extra large bun, which allowed it to bake faster and lay more flat on the bread. It was amazing, to boot.
Local natives played next, and their indie rock songwriting was similar in structure and content to more than a few other bands. The band members certainly seem talented, but nothing about their set convinced me that I should go out of my way to hear more of their music.
Mac DeMarco’s Land’s End set included tracks from his entire decade-long discography, including four songs that I would count among my favorites: ‘Salad Days’, ‘Ode to Viceroy’, ‘Chamber of Reflection’ and its leader- artwork, “Passing Out Pieces”. .” While we were watching his set, I ate a slice of cheesecake from Oui Oui! BaconLand Bacon Grilled Macaron and Cheese – both delicious.
Rapper Jack Harlow took to the main stage next, and even though we didn’t stay long, it’s easy to see that Jack has three things most musicians would die for: charisma, a block of adoring fans, and eyes. of the general public. His set, like Lil Uzi Vert’s on Friday, was a huge draw for young people on the court, and thousands of them.
To get away from the crowds, we headed to the Panhandle stage for the end of a performance by Thuy, a Vietnamese-American pop star from the Bay Area whose crooning strongly evokes the music of Ariana Grande. His crowd was devoted and sang many of his songs to him.
The best part of the day was seeing Japanese-British hyper-pop dynamo Rina Sawayama on stage at Twin Peaks. Earlier this week, I listened to songs from all the bands playing at the festival this year, and his music was new to me. “XS” struck me as one of the best tracks from my research, so I decided not to listen to her other music so she could impress me in person.
And wow me it did. She took to the stage in a designer dress and sunglasses looking like the coolest person alive, and she kept that feeling for the entire show. Her voice was awe-inspiring and her choreography breathtaking, but the instrumentals had enough power to hold attention on their own; featuring legendary hyper-pop producer Clarence Clarity on songs like “Dynasty,” “STFU!” and “Akasaka Sad”.
Her popular song “XS” didn’t come to the end of her set, but it was the best part of the show. Sawayama’s 2000s pop-inspired rocker is already a heady cut, but it explodes as a live song and was one of the best single-song performances I’ve ever seen. While Sawayama’s entire set was jaw-dropping, “XS” made me feel like it would be the closest I’d ever seen Britney Spears or Madonna at their peak.
Next, we headed to Cocktail Magic’s SilverGirls95 pop-up, a Golden Girls themed bar also inspired by vaporwave culture and 90s nostalgia. Alex had a St. Olaf Fizz, and I had Blanche’s Sweet Tea, because Blanche is the best Golden Girl. Although they weren’t particularly strong, they tasted good. With drinks in hand, we strolled to the mouth of Polo Field to watch Green Day through some trees.
After the Rina Sawayama show, Green Day had little to no chance of impressing me much. In fact, even though I enjoyed the Green Day show more than I thought I would, I would still say that Sawayama would have been a more compelling headliner in every way.
It would have been cool to see Green Day play “Welcome to Paradise” and “Brain Stew”, but we left for a bigger engagement to end our night: French DJs Polo & Pan on the Sutro stage.
The duo’s energetic, spaced-out music, combined with vivid colors and shapes playing on screens behind them, was exactly what the festival’s most trippy attendees were looking for. Polo & Pan knew it too; before their show, one of the two DJs – God knows which one – said he hoped everyone had “a good trip”.
Before the show ended, we set our sights on the nearest exit. We meandered through a long hallway of dark dirt road lit only occasionally by overhead strobes and spotlights. The punk rock of Green Day was on our left, the futuristic beach music of Polo & Pan was on our right, and the end of a long and thrilling second day at Outside Lands was right in front of us.