The 12th annual Outside Lands Music Festival recently took place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Produced by Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly Productions, the festival attracts over 200,000 music fans for a weekend featuring some of the world’s most popular and upcoming music acts, this years festival headlined by 21 Pilots, Childish Gambino, and Paul Simon.
But what if you didn’t want to shell out the $375+ for a 3-Day General Admission ticket, or $795+ VIP pass and cleaner bathrooms? Could you still experience some of the festival’s energy or artists around town for far less money? Like the festivals new, legal cannabis consumption and sales area called Grass Lands, SF Nightlife was lit.
Independent promoters of SF were the winners of Friday’s late night with their “unofficial” after party events including DJ Dials 1015 Folsom party featuring Travis Barker of Blink 182 + Wax Motif DJ sets ($15 adv), Dirtybird’s after party featuring various artists from their roster at Great Northern ($10 adv), Audio’s Viceroy with Francesca Cavallo after party and Adam Swig’s notable sold out Later Lands Benefit ($15 adv). With proceeds benefiting SF Recreation and Parks, Later Lands musical lineup dubbed just as eclectic as Outside Lands, only later, featured hip hop artist Fuze the MC, pop trance performer BOY SIM, freestyle rapper Kosha DIllz, buzzworthy artist Jessie Berg’s SF debut, and a surprise set by the Outside Lands darling Amo Amo.
Friday night was jam packed with special shows outside the festival and we’re not even talking about Weird Al’s concert with the SF Symphony at the Greek Theater ($45). Late announced and quickly sold out, Paul Simon played a show at the Fox Theater in Oakland ($68-$128) leading the buzz outside the festival, followed by official night shows put on by Outside Lands including popular festival acts like Dutch DJ San Holo tearing down the house at the Independent, German DJ Koze at Mezzanine, New York duo Brass Tracks at the New Parish in Oakland, and German recording artist NoMBe at the Rickshaw Stop ($20-$40).
Starting Thursday one could head to the Academy of Sciences for their weekly Nightlife party ($21.75), with a special Outside Lands twist featuring groovy performances by two LA bands from the festival; psychedelic pop rockers Amo Amo and The Marias, who’s version of Britney Spears Baby One More Time won the crowd over. Plus you get access to the aquarium and planetarium, did someone say space jelly’s? If you planned ahead properly, you could have headed for some sweater weather at The Neighbourhood’s sold out show at the Independent ($40) or over to Oakland for indie rocker Phosphorescent ($30), also official night shows put on by the festival. Did a friend get you into The Battery club for an early evening performance by local jam funk favorite Midtown Social? Paul Simon and Edie Brickell’s were in the crowd cheering on their daughter Lulu Simon who opened the show, her first ever performance in San Francisco. Were you too cool for anything associated with Outside Lands but still wanted that musical street cred from your pals? The Preservation Hall Jazz Band sat in at SF JAZZ all weekend with their legendary NOLA sound ($45)
The fun did not stop on Saturday, with more official Outside Lands Night shows led by female future stars including popular Korean-American electronic music artist Yaeji at Mezzanine, LA’s ‘Daddi’s’ girl Cherry Glazerr at the Rickshaw Stop, and Norway’s energetic Aurora at The Independent ($25-$35). If your name was on the list, you could have also caught indie favorite Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear getting into his DJ set at the exclusive Battery Club, but Public Works may have been the winner of the night featuring Outside Lands Heineken tent’s sweaty favorite South African electronic duo Goldfish ($20).
Tired yet? No way! The fuego continued into Sunday night, with superstar Anderson Paak surprising the crowd at the Emporium Barcade, sitting in with his band the Free Nationals for a few songs at their own festival after party ($30). Next door at The Independent, Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers folk rock outfit entitled the Better Oblivion Community Center ($40) melted the audience with their rendition of Shallow from a Star is Born. Maybe you headed to one of the other official Outside Lands night shows of the evening over at Mezzanine for a club set by Canadian electronic duo and prodigy fans Bob Moses ($35) or to hear Maroon 5 keyboardist and Grammy award winner PJ Morton’s soulful musical experience over at the New Parish in Oakland ($35).
The moral of the story is you didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a festival pass, deal with uber surges, or be a salmon swimming upstream through an ocean of sardines trying to get from one stage to the next. Then again maybe it’s worth it. All the bands are in one place, sweatshirts are for sale for when the fog rolls in, and you could conveniently enjoy a variety of food, beverages, and cannabis from well regarded local purveyors including a taste of powdered sugar twerked all over you by transgender artist Katey Red at the Gastro Stage. People watching is also A+, from underdressed individuals, to a one year old decked out with glitter and headphones, or spotting the rare Hollywood actor in SF like Timothy Olyphant of cult films Go, Girl Next Door, and Live Free Die Hard fame. Did we mention Tony Danza, Who’s the Boss?
We get it, the chaos of a festival may not be for you, but if you’re a live music fan who sat on your couch and didn’t go out and experience one of these international acts that were nesting in SF over Outside Lands Weekend, you suck at life and it’s time to move further out to the burbs. Your Bay Area nightlife community came through for you with dozens of affordable, memorable, and kick ass musical experiences, embracing a great festival in a greater city. Good thing you don’t suck and got out of the house, bought a ticket, and supported what makes the Bay the celebrated cultural hub it is. Amen.
BOOTSY HARPUT wrote this BAM Feature Article