True, a weekend-long festival can barely be summarized in one photograph – but Broken Social Scene’s 10-person musical entourage is telling of how much was happening in Golden Gate Park.
The first annual San Francisco Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival was nothing short of monstrous. Ticket sales exceeded festival organizers‘ expectations, according to Allen Scott, and the majority of roughly 130,000 weekend attendees gathered at the main stages for headliners Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Jack Johnson.
Technical difficulties at the soundboard didn’t stop Radiohead from reeling out a two-hour set with both In Rainbows mini-masterpieces and rarities like “Talk Show Host” and “Exit Music (for a film).” The British 4-piece was displayed on the screens to the sides of the stage, each member a part of a colorful cube and amusing lightshow. But with such a large crowd trying to enjoy one of the century’s best rock outfits, it might have been hard to appreciate the cinematography’s artsiness when most had to stand on their tiptoes to see anything at all.
Other musical highlights of the weekend include a triumphant Lupe Fiasco, violin casanova Andrew Bird and roots reggae favorites Steel Pulse. For more a comprehensive recap of the weekend, visit sfoutsidelands.com or youtube.com and query for individual performances.
Despite a laundry list of enthralling performers throughout the weekend, the festival did not prove to be solely or even predominantly about the music. Sponsors Microsoft and Dell each set up camp on the grounds, providing Guitar Hero, ping-pong and computer stations to generate multimedia for CrowdFire, a technological element unique to Outside Lands. Additionally, a delectable variety of reasonably priced eats were available; guests could choose to park it on a bench and sample wine, or find a vegan alternative to everything from dinner to dessert.
Overall there was not a boring minute in the weekend – though traveling between five very spread-out stages does a number on the concertgoer’s spirit, as does overcrowded public transportation that forced many out onto the streets each foggy evening.
In its inaugural year, Outside Lands definitely met its own challenge of providing the largest ticketed event in Northern California history, as well as becoming the new big name alongside other music festivals such as Bonnaroo or Coachella.
Text by Nicole L. Browner
Photos by Nicole L. Browner