Photo by Jane Tyska / Bay Area News Group / Chris Huerta, of Pasadena, Calif., center, and others belly up to the pit during day one of the Outside Lands music festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on August 8, 2014.
As with everything else in our lives, millennials are spoiled for choice, and music festivals are no different.
While Woodstock defined a generation, our generation struggles to pick which festival to spend our precious pennies on. Consequently, with so much competition, festivals need to stand out from the crowd.
Vibe can define a music festival, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands delivered just that, creating an atmosphere of appreciation and diversity. Spanning across Golden Gate Park and now in its seventh year, the three-day festival took place Aug. 8-10 and delivered a vibe distinctive to the city and its people.
Rather than solely catering to an influx of young partygoers and hipsters who come from afar just for the weekend, as you’d expect from Coachella, the lineup was a mixture that had something to offer to all ages and music tastes.
It’s also a festival that cares. Its food and drink encouraged buying local – food stalls hailed strictly from the Bay Area, while 30 craft breweries and 35 wineries from throughout California served up an extensive selection of drinks.
It was artistic and environmentally friendly, had digital detox areas and even provided AA meetings for those struggling among the many drunk and high festivalgoers.
As for the best act? HAIM, hands down. Yes, they can sing, but they can play, too. Guitar solos, some ghastly but entertaining rock facials and good audience interaction made for a performance that became a crowd favorite.
Furthermore, it should be mentioned just how sexy female musicians can be. Seeing talented and gorgeous babes rock a show was empowering – cheers for the comfort, Warpaint, Lykke Li and Tegan & Sara.
Biggest regret? Seeing Kanye West instead of the Arctic Monkeys (a big call, I know). The man is talented, dropping both Yeezus ragers and old songs during his set that got the crowd going. But his narcissistic traits, rants and demands for mosh circles were too much for a mediocre fan like myself.
Most refreshing? Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The headlining act alongside Kanye and The Killers, this classic band was a testament to the festival’s music variety.
Performing a two-hour set on the second night, their inclusion seemed a tribute to San Francisco’s rock ’n’ roll roots and older generations. With past years featuring Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson and soul acts Stevie Wonder and Al Green, a golden-oldie performance was invigorating among the escalation of EDM and hip-hop genres.
Major upset? Due to airport issues, draw card CHRVCHES canceled the morning of their show.
But with that, Flume’s crowd consequently doubled just in time for some rare San Francisco sun to shine through the fog. The young Aussie didn’t disappoint as fans crowd-surfed and shirts came off.
Other highlights included Local Natives, Gold Panda and Jagwar Ma. But with over 80 acts, tough decisions had to be made and some must-see artists had to be missed such as Disclosure, Duck Sauce and Ray Lamontagne.
Yet truth be told, nothing beat sitting down on a grassy hill, chilling with an IPA and listening to a bluegrass band I’ve never heard of – banjo, fiddle and all.
Upcoming California music festivals
First City Festival – Monterey, Aug. 23-24
Major acts: The National, Beck, Best Coast
FYF Fest – Los Angeles, Aug. 23-24
Major acts: Phoneix, The Strokes
Sunset Strip Music Festival – Los Angeles, Sept. 20-21
Major acts: Jane’s Addiction, Empire of the Sun, Mayer Hawthorne
Treasure Island – San Francisco, Oct. 18-19
Major acts: Outkast, Massive Attack, Janelle Monae
SnowGlobe – South Lake Tahoe, Dec. 29-31
Major acts: TBA