This past Saturday, I woke up quite literally before the sun came up, and headed down I5. That 5 am alarm was well worth it knowing the weekend I was in for. An easy five hour drive (NO TRAFFIC, thank god!) from LA to Oakland, and I was all settled in for a magical weekend of fire music, great food, and delicious cocktails,
Something unique about Second Sky is that it is a two day festival, but the same line up performs each day. I know, it sounds weird at first but it makes for a great vacation. With Oakland being just a quick train ride to San Francisco, my friend and I took advantage and used Saturday to explore the beautiful Bay Area. SF is an iconic American city with so much to offer. Though I have to admit we were total tourists. We had to hit the sites like Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge, and The Painted Ladies. It was our first time there- let us live! I was blown away by how accessible the the city is, we did not use my car ONCE after we parked it at the hotel. Trains, cable cars, and buses made the whole day a breeze.
After a dreamy day in the Bay, we got ready for day two at the festival. Now let’s get into it!
Second Sky this year was hosted at the Oakland Arena, a switch from the last 2019 show at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. The change in venue was met with scrutiny by some, but I think it made perfect sense and here is why. There are tons of very affordable hotels in proximity to the venue. Oakland has an amazing public transportation system as I mentioned, with a stop dropping off directly at the Arena. There is a bridge that connects you from the train stop to the entrance of the arena. Couldn’t be easier!
Our hotel even offered a free shuttle to the train, and rides are half off in the month of September. So it cost $4 round trip, took about ten minutes, dropped us off directly at the festival grounds… and no one had to drive?! YOU’RE KIDDING!! It was such a relief not having to spend time looking for parking, choosing a DD, or waiting for an Uber. I appreciated that SO MUCH. It made the day so much more enjoyable knowing I had a safe ride there and back.
It would be remiss of me to talk about the venue and not mention the stunning art installations that really brought the lawn to life. The environment was built in partnership with Nassal, the same art directors who built sets for Harry Potter and Star Wars. No big deal. They say love is in the details and you could see Porter absolutely pouring his heart into each installation. Which made for amazing photo ops!
I really appreciated the variety of food options here! I’ve never seen poké bowls at a festival before, it was nice to see some elevated food choices. Don’t get me wrong- I love a good corn dog or grilled cheese. But it was a nice change of pace to see things like smoothies and salmon. Some solid protein to get ya through the day! Luckily, the press lounge had their own food and beverage lines. (and a discounted bar- love that!) Because the lines for GA food were LONG. That was really the only complaint I heard all weekend, long lines for food and expensive drink prices. But hey- you brace yourself for that stuff going into a festival.
THE LINE UP
To be honest, when I saw the line up, my first thought was… why are there no female headliners? I was relieved to see Genevieve Artadi, 1/2 of the duo Knower, on stage. She was electric and got the day off to a great start. However, I would like to see more women on this line up in future years. There are so many talented women that would have fit great on this show. My personal favorite of the day was definitely Toro y Moi. The Oakland native really brought the perfect midday energy to keep the crowd going. Madeon was another stand out to me. That OUTFIT he wore was giving me life. Big Harry Styles energy! He had visuals like I had never seen before and put on such an engaging and unique show.
Of course you can’t review Second Sky without talking about Porter Robinson. One thing he made very clear on stage, is that he is overflowing with love. For his fans, for his girlfriend, and especially his family. He loves his family so much that it inspired him to start the Robinson Malawi Fund. While on tour in 2016, he got a call that his brother was suffering from a rare form of cancer. In support of his brother, and others fighting this disease he started the Robinson Malawi fund. The festival hosted a booth where fans could make donations and buy merch in support of this cause. I find this so admirable, and think other artists should take notes.
Porter came off so genuine and comfortable to me. It felt as if he was performing for a small group of close friends, despite it being a sold out crowd on Stadium grounds. It’s easy for big shows like this to come off a rehearsed or impersonal, and this was just the opposite. He put on a show filled with the perfect mix of new sounds and old classics. You could tell every fan left feeling full.
I have to make a separate paragraph just to address the crowd. Seriously, Porter may have the best fans on Earth. Everywhere you looked, you could find someone wearing merch. Which was stunning, btw. Custom camelbacks? He really thought of everything. I can distinctly remember a moment when he was on stage playing the piano, I looked to my friend and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a festival this quiet.” You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone in the crowd was so respectful of his performance, truly taking in each note. This kindhearted fanbase did not bring the usual rowdiness you expect from these kinds of shows. I mean that in the best way. It was a breath of fresh air being around people like that, who were really just here for the music.
I would recommend Second Sky to anyone! It’s hosted in a beautiful city and is central to lots of other great spots. It’s the kind of festival you can do on a budget or as bougie as you want. The crowd is filled with die hard fans, and the performers gave their all to satisfy them. Mic Drop gives this one a 4.5/5. Thank you so much for having us this weekend- we can’t wait for next year!