San Francisco Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival



San Francisco's Outside Lands Music Arts Festival seemed like a big deal to me from the time I first heard about it. Maybe too big. It was a huge event with giant main stage acts that would cover a large area of Golden Gate Park with a wide variety of events & diversions. Sounds swell. It also seemed like a big risk to me for some reason. We have other festivals in the Park (Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is right around the corner...), but this one seemed perilous. Is it gonna be a madhouse? How are we gonna get there? Are people gonna pay that much money? Is the Park gonna be left standing? Why has there never been a "legal" nighttime concert in Golden Gate Park before?

Seriously…fifteen years ago I would have crawled out here from Georgia, naked in the rain, to be a part of this. More recently, I thought about skipping the whole thing 'cause I was uneasy at the thought of getting mixed up in it. Times, as they say, have changed. But there's one thing that hasn't...

Golden Gate Park is an inherently awesome place to watch people play music, and I am obviously not the only one who is of this opinion. I learned on the train ride over that lots of people were more than happy to pay the steep price of admission to see these bands in this setting.

I heard some folks complaining about traffic around the site, but I can't imagine that the festival had anything to do with it. I'm fairly positive that the sixty thousand or so people that came on Saturday all rode the N-Judah, one of San Francisco’s transit systems, to get there.

And they paid upwards of $85 per ticket to get in, once they did get there. BEFORE Ticketmaster! Young kids too! Maybe I am dating myself, but can you imagine having asked your parents for a $100 concert ticket when you were fifteen? It costs a band a lot more to get around now than it did three years ago. I'm not saying that the price was outrageous, I just wasn't sure if folks would pay it. Shows what I know.

Here's where things get magical. This is the part that I really like. Golden Gate Park can take that number of folks and make the crowd seem small. I've seen it before, but I'm always amazed. I didn't get claustrophobic one time all weekend and I'm pre-disposed to do so. I've never even considered going to Bonnaroo because I've heard about folks sitting in their cars for eight hours in a traffic jam once they've arrived at the site! What happens if you want to leave?

I didn't wait in any crazy lines all weekend once I was in the gate at the Park. The portable restrooms were as heinous as you would expect, but you didn't wait long to suffer the indignity of using one. The beer selection was Heineken or Heineken Light, but you could walk right up and suffer that indignity too if you were so inclined.