Outside Lands went down at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park this weekend; it was frigid and there were transportation headaches, but the music made it well worth it. Here's the best and worst of the weekend:

The Best

The friendly festival staff

Holding “Ask Me” signs, the staff were everywhere and were ready to figure out the solution to your problem. “Have fun!” and “Be safe” they hollered from the sidelines. It felt almost as if a friend's nice parents were dropping everyone off at summer camp. Even the police were in on it. We witnessed two guys who had tried and failed to sneak in bantering and laughing with the policeman who led them, handcuffed out of the festival. “You almost made it!” said the cop. “Ah well, at least I can sorta hear Gary Clark Jr from here.”

When a guy in a wheelchair crowdsurfed

What a badass. He almost fell once but didn't seem to mind. He made it to the stage and, unlike most who get only to the barricade, he was welcomed across and backstage by Young The Giant. Something similar happened at Lollapalooza during Kendrick Lamar's set.

Credit: Gabrielle Canon

Credit: Gabrielle Canon

Paul McCartney

This performance included fireworks. And not just in our hearts.

The added attractions

There were wine tastings to accompany live-art displays, “Chocolands” and “Cheeselands,” a stage for standup comedy, “Ecolands,” and another gazillion other things. Next year we're holding out for a solar-powered Habitat for Humanity home or gardening workshops.

The trash situation

Along with smelly porter-potties, trash is a typically unavoidable at festivals. And indeed in SF plastic cups crunched underfoot, detracting from the green landscape and the eco-aware-emphasis. Sunday came with a surprise, however, as the polo fields had returned to a pristine state and remained fairly clean throughout the day. The trick? Outside Lands and Clean Vibes offered incentives for festival-goers to pick up trash and cigarette buts in exchange for prizes.

See also: Trashed: Music Festivals Are Environmental Disasters

Below: The Worst of Outside Lands

Credit: Gabrielle Canon

Credit: Gabrielle Canon

The Worst

Early nights

Set times ended before 10. Considering how much great stuff there was to do on site, we all would have benefitted from just a bit more time. No one was quite ready to head home, especially on Sunday when some smaller stages were forcefully asked to pull the plug.

Kids being bored during Hall & Oates

C'mon! Silver Lining: They finally got with the program during the encore of “You Make My Dreams Come True.”

Getting to the festival

We tried it all: MUNI, BART, walking, lyft, uber, and driving. Unless you own a teleportation device or live in the neighborhood, getting to the festival was a mission. Maybe there were too many options. Maybe we were too stupid to figure out the most efficient way. But it was such a headache next time we might just sleep in the park.

Silver lining: In these types of situations, people band together. New friends are made, festival supplies are shared, and after-party destinations are arranged.


Indeed, the coldest winter of our lives was the summer weekend we spent at Outside Lands. We froze our tits off this weekend. And when we weren't busy freezing to death we were lugging around bags full of scarves, hats, and jackets in preparation for nightly hypothermia. Silver Lining: The rolling fog made for the perfect atmosphere to enjoy relaxed acts like Daughter, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Milo Greene. Not to mention no sunburns or smelly bods during Red Hot Chili Peppers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Phoenix.

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