Every year at Golden Gate Park, San Franciscans and tourists from all over gather for three days to listen to glorious music, eat delicious food, take in marvelous art, and frolic, either sober or under the influence, amongst the great outdoors that make up Outsidelands. This year was my first time experiencing the festival in its entirety for all three days, and it was awesome.
Being that it is San Francisco, you have keep into consideration that it’s already impossible to find parking, let alone during a big event like OSL, so be sure to plan out your weekend plans prior to arriving the day of. This means either booking a room nearby, getting a hold of a friend to crash with, or if you’re bold enough to do so, driving up early to find a parking spot. The festival does offer limited parking passes to those who dare drive up; but for an additional three hundred bucks, I’d say you’re better off splitting a hotel room with your squad.
Aside from planning out your weekend accommodations, you also have to be absolutely sure to check the local forecast and bring along plenty of outfit options as San Francisco does have some funky summer weather. Most importantly: be sure to dress in layers and wear comfy shoes because you will get your workout in walking from stage to stage and if you stay until the very end each night, you’ll have to walk away from the crowd to get an Uber to actually pick you up.
At the end of the night, upon exiting the premises, you’ll find yourself smelling plenty of the classic San Francisco late night munchie dogs, confused people, and smart entrepreneurs selling everything from beer and water to pizza outside their homes. Lucky for me, I happened to find some extra cash on my walk out and bought myself a slice of pizza to fuel my walk up the hill and back to our hotel. The come up can be very real my friends.
If you’re like me and don’t like carrying a bunch of stuff but also like the option of having your belongings within reach, I would suggest purchasing a locker prior to your arrival as well. These are awesome as they serve like a home base once in the festival since unfortunately, once you’re in and you decide to step out, you’re out for good as they don’t allow ins and outs at Outsidelands. You’ll be surprised how much stuff you can fit in the heavy-duty locker. And even better: the one you get day one stays with you throughout the duration of festival.
Moving on to the day of, unlike other big festivals Outsidelands is surprisingly lenient when it comes to what you can and can’t bring in to the festival. One of the items, which are allowed in: sealed water bottles. Use this to your advantage and fill a couple of these with vodka so you can save yourself some money and fuel your adventuring in the park with some spiked lemonade. However, if you do decide to go this route, please be discreet about it. We did this Saturday and Sunday, and I couldn’t be happier that we did.
If you’re not big on taking shots and sipping on some hard alcohol, fear not as the festival offers a wide variety of beer options at Beer Lands! This is also a greet meeting spot as it’s centrally located and away from too much commotion. There’s plenty of standing room and if you wish to have a seat, picnic benches are scattered next to a very yummy snack bar, offering pretzels and sausages to die for. Not only that, you have the freedom of trying something new or going with something you already know and like as each brewery has its own line. However, each beer ranges from $9-$12, so be sure to make the right choice or you’ll be sipping something with a bitter look on your face.
Next topic of interest: the lineup. As you can see based on the festival map and past lineups, figuring out who you want to see most is very important as each stage seems to be completely on opposite sides of the others. I would suggest downloading the app and having your lineup picked out ahead of time. What’s neat about using this technology is not only can you check the schedule on the convenience of your mobile device, but you can also see exactly where you are at any time on the map. Trust me, even if you don’t plan on getting separated from your friends, once you see the lines to use the porta potties or to grab a nice cold beer, you’re going to have to if you want to actually enjoy the festival and not just stand around waiting all day.
I think one of the best parts about this festival is the fact that you get such a diverse lineup, which you can actually enjoy all day long. Unlike Coachella, where it’s scorching hot and you risk dying of a heat stroke, at Outsidelands you can lay out your blanket and enjoy some awesome music in the sunshine or the fog. It’s also great for discovering some awesome new upcoming artists as it doesn’t get as ridiculously packed and the crowd is a lot more mellow and lets each person have their own room to breathe without getting too close.
Some of my favorite acts from this year were Cold War Kids, George Ezra, Hot Chip and Giraffage, mainly because I was close enough to actually see them perform without feeling claustrophobic like you would at a huge show.
Another cool thing about Outsidelands is the art. For starters, the place is already decked out in cool murals throughout the festival. But the best is the artists hard at work throughout the duration of the show. It’s a pretty neat experience because you can actually see the progress from start to finish. I’m an artist myself so the fact that you can see other artists and their work really stood out to me. Definitely something to check out—every art piece has a story to tell.
It always seems that by the third day, people just show up out of nowhere. Be sure to check out the must-see exhibits and overall general exploring the first day. This could be going to Wine Lands to play miniature golf or checking out The Barbary to see the comedy show. By day three, you won’t want to be waiting around and everything gets super crowded. I, unfortunately, did not get to do either of those two things and I wish I had, but live and learn.
I’ve also realized that more people tend to go later on in the day. If you’re like me, and like to get there sooner rather than later, explore your food options earlier in the day! There’s so much amazing food to be eaten, and the worst is when you’re craving something and it’s sold out. Some of my personal favorites were:
The Pastrami Sandwich from Wise Sons Jewish Deli
Ice Cream Scoops from Three Twins Ice Cream
Lobster Roll from Woodhouse Fish Co.
S’mores Taco from Rocko’s
Chicken Curry Nachos from Azalina’s
Overall, this festival is one for those who like the finer things in life. Having a diverse lineup, the best food of all music festivals, amazing weather (I tend to like to cold over the heat), and some awesome art to appreciate, I would rate this as a ten for music lovers and foodies alike, regardless of your age. With the booming increase in music festivals every year, this is certainly one to keep on your radar as Ranger Dave seems to never disappoint and outdoes himself every year by gifting us with this awesome time at the park we call Outsidelands.
Written by FestPop Staff Writer
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