Yesterday, Dave and I went to the Outside Lands Music Festival and didn’t spend very much time listening to live music.
That’s because the Outside Lands Music Festival is more like a theme park than a festival.
The three-day event was sold out several weeks ago, but through his work, Dave was given two free VIP tickets for us to enjoy the festival on Saturday.
Even though I love festivals, honestly, I wasn’t that excited to go. I had heard it was super crowded. And, I had heard the transportation there and back was awful (reminiscent of our trek to Candlestick Park to see Justin Timberlake and Jay Z just a couple of weeks ago). However, the Outside Lands Music Festival was way better than I could have imagined. I can see why tens-of-thousands of people travel to San Francisco to attend every single day of the event.
Our access to the VIP areas, free shuttle transportation from Union Square and some free beverages certainly helped to make the day better than expected. But even for a regular-ticket holding patron, there is so much to see and do.
The event takes place in Golden Gate Park, which I just learned was once considered the “outside lands” of the City of San Francisco because it was far away from the main hub. Today, Golden Gate Park is the third most visited park in America and is absolutely part of the City.
So what does a day at the Outside Lands Music Festival entail?
Walking, people-watching, looking at menus of dozens of yummy food vendors trying to decide what to order, drinking, listening to music, people-watching, standing in line trying to decide on another food item, continuing to put on more layers of clothing as the fog gets thicker and the temperature drops and bobbing your head to the beat no matter where you are.
The event, which started in 2008, covers a ton of ground in Golden Gate Park and features different areas or “lands”, which are all themed and different. Some of the highlights include:
- The Dome. I may or may not have cut in line to get us into this attraction, which turned out to be Dave’s favorite of the day. This was a closed-in white dome, in which a live DJ was spinning house music. All the lights were off, except for a colored laser light show on the ceiling. It was like walking into an underground night club. We danced, covered our ears near the speakers and raised our hands in the air. While we only lasted about 25 minutes in the Dome with our fellow fans, it was an awesome little experience.
- Wine Lands. Obviously, this was a good spot for me. Here you purchase drink tickets and a wine glass. The glass had helpful pour measure-marks on it as well as a convenient hole for your thumb to keep a tight grip. With tickets and glass-in-hand, you walk around to different wineries and try one-ounce tastings or full glasses anywhere from two to five tickets. I LOVE trying different wines, so used all of my tickets for small tastings. My favorite wine was a California Zinfandel from Renwood Winery in the Sierra Foothills.
- The Barbary. Once I found out we were going to the festival, I investigated the website and was pleased to see there was not only music at this event, but also a comedy area. We just happened to stumble on The Barbary tent, where all of the comedy took place, about five minutes before the five o’clock show. It looked like an old circus tent and was well-themed inside. We walked in, grabbed some good seats and watched three comedy acts. The first act was a guy who played a guitar while telling jokes. The second act was a youngish-woman who sounded and talked like Kristen Wig, and she was pretty funny. Then, the headliner act was an absolutely hurt-your-cheeks funny woman with an accompanying band. She was a larger woman who worked her assets. She came out with a bang in an evening dress, which showed a little too much skin; she sang with a deep soulful club voice; she used blow-up dolls as props; and she walked around the audience in bare feet at times rubbing herself on unsuspecting fans. Now, I am not much for raunchy, and I don’t really like vulgarity either, but after two minutes of Bridget Everett and The Tender Moments performance, I was sold. The entire audience was cracking up at this woman. Her delivery was excellent. Her stage presence was mesmerizing. And, she truly worked the crowd.
I could have gone home happy after seeing this show, but yet, there was still more to do — live music in fact.
While we missed Paul McCartney, who played the evening show on the largest stage on Friday night, we did get to see a little bit of Nine Inch Nails on stage, as well as a few smaller bands on other stages, just for a few minutes at a time. We weren’t super familiar with many of the acts, and had so much fun exploring the other elements of the festival that it was okay we didn’t ever post up to watch full performances.
To end our night, Dave and I found some good seats in the VIP tent near the main stage and chatted with a nice fellow patron who ended up asking for our contact information before we left, saying he would love to invite us to one of his dinner parties. Well how nice.
What was my partner-in-crime’s favorite thing about the festival? The American pork belly burger he ordered from one of the many, many food vendors. It was a burger with apple and cheese on it, and I can vouch for its deliciousness.
What was my favorite part of the day? I found ten dollars on the ground. Sure did. As soon as I picked it up, I spent nine of it on a Greek food plate. Best food I’ve ever eaten, since I knew it was technically free. Oh the small things …
Before the last concert was over, we hopped on our free shuttle, headed back to Union Square and swooped into The Cheesecake Factory for a sweet end to a great day.
Oh San Francisco, how I love you and your festival offerings so much …