tatum van dam
outside lands: the happiest place on earth
If there is one music festival I could encourage anyone and everyone to go to, without a doubt, it would be Outside Lands. I have been an attendee of the fest every year for the past three years, and could not be any more excited for my fourth time around.
Held annually at Golden Gate Park here in the Bay Area, Outside Lands is a music, art, and food festival attracting festival goers worldwide. This year it will be happening August 10-12 - Friday to Sunday. And you should definitely go.
Although festivals generally consist of younger crowds, Outside Lands never fails to appeal to older audiences - as each year, they have a “legacy act”. Past legacy acts have included Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Who, and Metallica - and this year, Janet Jackson will be taking the main stage and closing the festival on Sunday night. My first year of attending Outside Lands was in 2015, when the main headliner was none other than Elton John. To this day, it remains to be one of the best live performances I have ever been to - one of the main reasons being the atmosphere of the crowd. My friend and I were only sixteen or seventeen at the time, surrounded by people much older and much younger than us. Honestly, it was pretty incredible to see different generations come together and bond over something that never fails: music.
A main distinguishing factor I have noticed with Outside Lands in comparison to other music and art festivals is the “fashion” aspect. If there’s one word I could use to describe the atmosphere of the Bay Area (without using any Bay Area slang) it would be chill. From the workers to the people attending to the performers, everyone is extremely laid back - which is a great thing, considering the amount of people who flock to festivals. With this being said, Outside Lands is not as much of a fashion show as it is a genuine music festival. Music festivals (some more than others) are notorious for being known for the fashion statements people choose to make at them. And while, in no way am I judging anyone for embracing the fashion aspect of a festival (I mean, yeah, I do too), the concept of attending a festival knowing that people don’t really care about their outward appearances is a breath of fresh air.
In addition to the lack of judgement it contains, the location of Outside Lands makes for a great experience. This might be due to the fact that it’s held in San Francisco - an area where (especially over summer) it’s not too hot or not too cold, and an area that automatically brings people joy (though I could be biased). Essentially, Golden Gate Park is a huge area of grass and fields and all things relaxing located in West San Francisco - relatively close to the bay itself. It’s not too big of a venue, however, it also isn’t too small, which serves as a perfect location for a festival. The walk from stage to stage isn’t terrible, and because of the convenient weather, you won’t have to worry about being too worn out to get from point A to point B.
Aside from the fact it is held close to home, one of my main reasons for attending Outside Lands is the overall vibes it brings. I know, I know, it sounds oh-so typical to say that a music festival brings “good vibes” - but honestly, it does. Last year I attended without really knowing (or otherwise listening to) many of the artists on the lineup. And last year ended up being my favorite year of going to the festival. Not being familiar with many of the artists gave me an opportunity to discover new music, and while doing so, wander around and see everything the festival has to offer. And while doing so, I was able to create friendships that have remained a whole year later.
(Also, the food is something else).
Whether you are located across the country, across the state, or perhaps like me, across the city -- I highly recommend you check out Outside Lands. Regardless of knowing the lineup or not, the festival is not one to miss. Being a little more affordable than a festival like Coachella, and a little less intense than a festival like EDC, Outside Lands serves as the perfect, real combination of food, art, and music.