Outside Lands' super-queer notables

by Jim Gladstone

Bay Area Reporter

Wednesday July 31, 2019

The annual huge outdoor, multi-stage music festival includes headliners Paul Simon, plus food, drinks, comedy, all in lovely Golden Gate Park. Here are a few select, lesser-known bands and events, including a few queer notables.

From the double-barrelled opening notes of the Rainbow Girls and Taylor Bennett's early afternoon sets on Friday, August 9, LGBTQ-friendly performances, musical and otherwise, will be sprinkled through the weekend of Outside Lands' twelfth annual festivities in Golden Gate Park.

While this year's edition lacks iconic presences like Janelle Monáe, whose billowing vulval pantaloons were a visual highlight of last year's event; or Elton John, who headlined in 2015; or even a nostalgic gay crush-source like Duran Duran, who played in 2016, there are glittery pink treasures to be found if you sift through the three-day line-up (Not to mention a now rare opportunity to catch Paul Simon, semi-retired at 77). Here are a few of the queerest acts to watch out for.

Friday, August 9

Rainbow Girls, 12pm

Exactly one month after this local gig, the Bodega Bay-based alt-folk trio of Vanessa May, Erin Chapin and Caitlin Gowdey will be playing to a women-only audience in Lesbos, Greece. For now though, you can catch their lush singing and accomplished finger picking as they play the very first set of the weekend.

With a mellow twang and impressive three-part harmonies, Rainbow Girls deliver socially urgent lyrics within hummable, toe-tapping melodies. From songs that touch upon topics from Black Lives Matter to Native American rights, the women's 2017 album, American Dream, sets powerful subject matter within a spacious, acoustic aesthetic that allows the content to reverberate and recalls last century's classic San Francisco protest music. It's a sound they've described as "a gang of sweet angels punching you in the heart."

Having started as a quintet in 2010, they just released a second album in their current three woman format, Give The People What They Want. It's an earthy collection of covers, including "Smoke Rings" (previously recorded by Sam Cooke and The Mills Brothers, among others) and lovely renditions of "Tennessee Waltz" and John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery" that would fit in just as well at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival as at Outside Lands. www.rainbowgirlsmusic.com

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