This year sees Radiohead return after they performed at the year's inaugural festival in 2008. Joining them as headliners are indie rock cult favorites LCD Soundsystem and pop songstress Lana del Rey. Some other notable acts include J. Cole, Duran Duran, Lionel Richie, Zedd, Halsey, Miguel and Ryan Adams. Sure, all those headliners are dope, and we’ll be checking them out for sure. But there are also a great crop of smaller acts that you definitely shouldn’t miss.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Friday, 5:10 to 6pm, Sutro Stage
This project of Primus bassist and lead vocalist Les Claypool and John Lennon offspring Sean Lennon is a psychedelic pop masterpiece. I caught them last weekend in Hollywood, and it was hard to shake just how much Lennon sounded like his dad. They also threw in a Beatles cover (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) and a Pink Floyd one (“Astronomy Domine”) to boot – but their originals would have fit in the eras those bands came from just as well. Claypool slaps the bass (Editor’s Note: SLAP-A DE BASS-A) and leads the vocals as well as anyone too.
Julien Baker – Saturday, 12 noon to 12:45 pm, Sutro Stage
Julien Baker is an artist on the rise. Her haunting voice and the heartbreaking songs from debut record Sprained Ankle contains songwriting skills far beyond her 20 years of age. As a live performer she'll leave a crowd in stunned silence but always manages to break up the heartbreak with hilarious between song banter.
Big Grams – Saturday, 4:40 to 5:40 pm, Lands End Stage
Rarely do so-called "super groups" work out well (uh, Chickenfoot anyone?) but the infectious side project of OutKast's Big Boi and dark synthpop duo Phantogram have been tearing it up on the festival circuit all year. Sarah Barthel provides a nice contrast to Big Boi's rapping with her sultry singing, and everybody seems to have maximum fun on stage. They mix in mashups of OutKast and Phantogram songs with tracks from their debut EP and they’ll own the crowd when they bust out their mashup of “Ms. Jackson” and “Mouthful of Diamonds."
Oh Wonder – Sunday, 1:15 to 2 pm, Lands End Stage
This indie pop duo will mix it up on the Outside Lands main stage on the final day of the festival. It's not a new scenario for them – I saw them help kick things off on the first day at Sasquatch Festival this year and they drew a pretty sizable crowd. It's surprising how they're able to make their somewhat understated electropop play to a large audience, but they more than make it work. If you’re a fan of an upbeat, party-oriented vibe (and probably lots of girls) this one’s a keeper.
Chance the Rapper – Sunday, 4:55 to 5:55 pm, Lands End Stage
There many not be any rapper with a brighter future right now than Chicago kid Chance the Rapper. At 23, he's been making waves for years and his latest mixtape, Coloring Book, has been extremely well-received critically. With a star studded guest list including the likes of Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, 2 Chainz, Young Thug, Future and an assortment of other big names endorsing his cred, you know it’s looking up. What makes Chance can't-miss is the fact that he brings it live more than almost any rapper out there. His live band is banging and Chance is coming into his own – he knows how to own a big stage, hence his placement at Outside Lands.