When I bought my ticket for the three-day music festival known as Outside Lands, I knew the dangers surrounding the event. Although I was excited to experience a music festival, there was the lurking paradox of my youth culture — how can one enjoy oneself surrounded by the term “hipster”?
I was running the risk of drowning in a sea of tight jeans and a cloud of hand-rolled cigarettes. Determined to build a perfect case against hipsters, I would go to be the champion who destroyed them forever. But first, I had to know what I was looking for.
My best definition of hipsterdom is from Urban Dictionary, as the walking and vocal rejection of the “culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers.”1
Easy enough, I just had to find the jerks who were looking down on the less fashionable, openly displaying their artistic savvy.
However, when I got to the festival, some of my favorite attractions appeared to be objectively hipster. For example, I found myself enjoying the abundance of indie bands, the display of local culinary talent at Lamblands, the microbrews at Beer Lands and the $5 Blue Bottle Coffee.
But weren’t these features the point of the festival? I wasn’t trying to be hipster, I was just trying to have a good time. My enemy was still undefined.
Waiting for the last show of the weekend, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I found myself in the crowd with my friend Alex. His phone buzzed and our new friend Cameron was on the other end, wanting to know where we were in the crowd.
He came to Outside Lands by himself, determined to live it up despite getting ditched by his friends. We met him at the festival, and now he wanted to watch the last set with us.
Even though one might describe him as a stereotypical hipster, with gauged earrings and an artsy 1880’s style mustache, we liked the guy. He never bragged about his taste, and he never made us feel inferior. So we told him where we were. Miraculously he snuck his way to the front and found us.
As the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on, waves from the Rock Goddess muse pulsed through my veins; I had my epiphany! The festival made it possible for us to all enjoy the moment together as friends, one old, one new. This celebration of life hipsters couldn’t touch.
Over the rock and roll, Cameron turns to me and shouts, “I can see them! I’m close enough that I can actually see the band!” If we hadn’t met each other, it is very possible that Cameron would have never made it to the front of the crowd.
With the Chili Peppers jamming and blaring in sight, Cameron howls, “Don’t kill the weekend!” This kid is having a great time and I feel like I’ve done something to help.
So it was never about hipsters; it was about assholes. In my search for hipsters, I was looking for people who would try to ruin other’s happiness based off a pretentious self-image. A hipster says, “I’m having more fun than you.” But, asshole is the better term for this type of concert goer.
An asshole cuts you in the bathroom line, spills your beer, pushes you to get to the front of the stage, and generally disregards the concert community. Everyone wants the same good time, so this exclusion denies the reality of the shared experience.
Therefore, these “hipsters” are missing out on the greatest gift the festival has to offer — genuine human interaction. I offered kindness to an outsider and found it reciprocated. By the end of the day, with multiple handshakes and goodbyes, I could call Cameron a friend.
Set in Golden Gate Park, there is obvious connection between Outside Lands and the glorified Summer of Love. As Alex put it, “we are in the Summer of Love round infinity.” With a ticket price, the hippie ethos has survived, bringing a community closer through music.
Although the assholes have the potential to make you lose faith in humanity, it can be one person who makes all the difference.
If you want to go around campus destroying fixie bikes with DANIEL HERMAN, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.