This is not Coachella, this is not Lollapalooza. What has sprouted in a once barren field at the edge of San Francisco, much like the history of the park itself, is just a highlight of the great place we Northern Californians reside in.
Outside Lands Music Festival came back to Golden Gate Park through the weekend of August 5-7 for the 8th consecutive year, to celebrate the quirks and elements of the San Francisco Bay Area while attendees danced, eat and drank amongst the treeline of the park.
This year approximately 70,000 daily attendees welcomed musical acts such as Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and J. Cole among many others,72 to be exact. The fog and cold which was the main weather pattern the whole weekend was of little concern to those there to enjoy in the various genres of music, art installations, types of food and drinks.
With the weather there was zero of those EDM fuzzy boots in sight. Casual, layers, and stylish folks reigned supreme as photographers snapped their pictures amongst the art and the trees.
Over the years one of the most positive aspects of the festival has been the meshing of San Francisco’s eclectic cultures and history with its present amongst the throngs of musicians. Live canvas paintings are done throughout the day for the entirety of the 3 days festival. This year some artists included Tatiana Suarez, Sam Flores, Ricky Watts and Bunnie Reiss.
Year after year these paintings are then slowly added to the “walls” that are formed around various sections of the park. These walls of connected are create a gallery amongst the nature of Golden Gate Park which have some that go back to the first Outside Lands in 2008.
Other artistic endeavors this year were parades of people made up of stilt walkers, drummers and a large, clunky chrome bear that walked through the festival goers, who would understandably stop and pull out their phones for a great shot of these performances.
Years past a big sign that said Outside Lands used to adorn the top of the main stage, Lands End, and be lit up at night. This year it was moved to the ground where you could pose with it close to the Panhandle stage.
But the attraction that replaced this sign on the Lands End stage is in my opinion an art installation in itself. A glittery silver depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge now loomed above the concertgoers and performers, and as light hit it throughout the day it served as a shiny, more low key version of a disco ball, but as night fell and it lit up it glowed blue. At each of the two towers of the bridge and two locations to the side came up static blue beams of light that projected into the cloudy sky. It was a very cool display that definitely highlights that this is the main stage as opposed to the sign that was up there the previous 7 years. It was a fantastic display while watching Radiohead.
As a segue into the next most interesting part of this year’s festival let’s go over “twerking”. Although it is a dance/body movement that has existed for decades, only in the last few years has it exponentially grown into a slice of americana. With that I introduce the “Beignets and Bounce Brunch” segment of Outside Lands GastroMagic area of the festival, which touts itself as “the home for innovation around what is possible in food, drink, music, magic, and more”.
The Beignets and Bounce, now in its third year at Outside Lands, brings music, beignets and twerking, which correlates to joy for everyone experiencing it. Host Big Freedia, a musician out of New Orleans known for his energetic live shows had the swollen crowds grooving as he offered up beignets to participants in the crowd willing to strut their stuff on stage and twerk with them when possible (including a person in a banana costume). Probably the most fun strictly non-music act besides the comedy shows at the Barbary comedy tent.
Once again, Outside Lands continues to build on what people think a Bay Area version of a large music fest should be. Eco-friendly, sometimes chilly, and full of art and food. Until 2017, I definitely suggest checking out the playlists available on Spotify for an idea of the music that provided a soundtrack to the happenings of the weekend, including the twerking for Beignets.