REVIEW: Four Year of Outside Lands Goodness (2011-2014)

The Outside Lands Music Festival captures all the beauty and art of Northern California. The festival happens ever year in the beginning of August, and is a musical and artistic outlet to all 60,000 visitors for one entire weekend. It is held at Golden Gate Park, one of San Francisco’s greatest treasures and attractions. After 4 consecutive years (2011-2014) of attending this event, I am an advocate to say that the weekend never disappoints. The event gets bigger and bigger every year. Here’s my take on why it has been so amazing and successful the past 4 years I’ve gone.

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Photo: Friends and the Outside Lands windmill.

Venue

Golden Gate Park is transformed for an entire weekend to suit the festivities of Outside Lands. There are 4 stages at the event: Lands End (main stage), Twin Peaks, Sutro, and Panhandle. The OL team does a great job in coordinating where and what time the artists play throughout the weekend. There are an abundance of tall surrounding trees that serve as a barrier between the stages, which gives adds to the great organization of the venue.

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Photo: Twin Peaks 2011 and 2013

Everywhere you walk or turn there will be a new vendor, attraction, or food stop for you to visit as well. There’s never a dull moment at this festival, and a big reason is that the venue is filled with so many activities. One of my favorites from the past 2 years is the “Digital Oasis” zone, where digital technology is not allowed to be used. Instead, the space is used for people to paint faces, write letters on typewriters, make friendship bracelets, and meet new friends. The Barbary, which is a giant circus-looking tent, is also a great place to stop by to see local artists, famous comedians, and many other acts between sets.

The food at Outside Lands is a huge part of what makes the festival different from others. Wine Lands and Beer lands are also very popular attractions (for those who are 21+), for people to get their alcohol and cheese fixes during the weekend. There is also Choco Lands, which is a part of the venue dedicated to all things dessert and chocolate. There are about 50 different food vendors that serve a large variety of foods. My past favorites have been Malaysian nachos, garlic tater-tots, lamb fries, and bulgolgi burritos, and southern fried-chicken sandwiches.

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Art

San Francisco is known for the abundance of art that floods the city. So it’s more than appropriate that Outside Lands brings the art for attendees to see and appreciate. From giant wooden playhouse structures (2011) to three dimensional artistic statues (2013-2014), the art never ceases to amaze people who pass by. There is an ever-growing amount of murals at the festival, some of which are spray-painted live by the artist for everyone to see. At nighttime, colorful lights throughout the venue light up the tall trees. Even as people are watching artists perform, we notice that every attraction and every stage is carefully designed and decorated to perfection. There is never a dull site to see during the weekend.

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Photo: Murals from OL 2013 and OL 2014.

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Photo: Tree-house art at OL 2011 and random art sign at OL 2013.

Photo: 3D characters at 2013, also seen at 2014.

Music

The Outside Lands lineup never disappoints. Every year my “Annual OL Lineup” picture gets posted onto my Instagram, because I get so excited to share how absolutely amazing the music continues to be. This festival tends to the needs of all different genres of music. There are an abundance of Indie/Alternative artists, Rock, Hip-Hop, a growing amount of EDM artists, and many iconic artists from past decades and generations. My favorite year by far has been 2013 – the year Sir Paul McCartney took the stage and stole the hearts of many. Every year is different, you don’t know exactly what to expect but you know the music will be amazing.

Check out all the past OL lineups from 2008-2014: http://www.sfoutsidelands.com/past-lineups/

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Photo: Sir Paul McCartney closing the first day of OL 2013.

Besides having amazing headliners and iconic artists play at the event, Outside Lands doesn’t forget the up-and-coming/underground artists either. Outside Lands is one of the greatest places to discover music. People aren’t afraid to listen to and watch bands that they haven’t seen before. Attendees musically indulge themselves in sounds they’ve never heard prior to this weekend, and fall in love with new artists while they do so. There’s no such thing as “knowing enough music” or being “musically cultured” because there are so many new sounds to constantly discover. This festival gives people the opportunity to venture through different genres and styles of music in the best ways possible.

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Photo: Young the Giant (2013) and Haim (2014).

People

And lastly, I found it important to mention how great the people at this festival are. The aura of San Francisco is so different than that of other cities (such as Indio, Los Angeles, etc.) that hold big music festivals. Outside Lands is held during the perfect time in the summer, and it really radiates through the festivalgoers. The festival is a great place to make new friends, dance with random people, eat great food, and share the overall good vibes with great company.

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Photo: Nothin’ but good vibes here at OL 2013.

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