Outside Lands Recap: 9 Things We Learned at the San Francisco Music Festival

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As a Southern California native, Coachella has always been the biggest music festival on my radar, but after attending Outside Lands this weekend in San Francisco, I realized there’s some major competition between the two… In fact, depending on your weather and fashion preference, OSL might actually take the cake here.

While I love my fair share of flower crowns and daisy dukes, there really is nothing better than being totally engrossed in a magical forest, wearing an over-sized sweatshirt with your favorite beanie, enjoying the best wines and beers in Cali and losing yourself in some good old fashioned rock and roll.

Such was my wonderful experience this weekend, which is why I want to share with you a few things I learned during my time at the SF festival:

1. It’s way more “chill” than “Coachilla.”  While Coachella is supposed to be the ultimate spot for people to, like, totally chill out and enjoy the sunshine and music (brah)… That’s not exactly how it actually goes down.  Coachella is a way bigger excuse to party your face off and with the insane temperatures, people end up way drunker than they anticipated.  Outside Lands, on the other hand, was way more laid back.  It was more of a bonfire, drinking beer with my friends on the beach type of festical as opposed to a getting hammered at a house party type, if you catch my drift.  (That’s also a personal opinion).

2. It’s a very cold festival. When you think of hitting up a festival in the middle of August, you’d probably assume it’d be perfect temperatures (maybe even a little on the hot side), comfortable enough to whip out those daisy dukes and maybe bring a sweater for night time…….. WRONG!  Golden Gate Park (where Outside Lands was held) is pretty much a wind valley.  Not to mention, the city itself was cold and drizzling.  At one point I was wearing four layers looking at the LA-based girls who were expecting Coachella conditions, wearing floral day dresses and sandals, and I felt very, very sad for them.  No one got it more right than the dudes wearing onesies.

3. More people are about the music than the fashion. Since the festival is quite chilly, I noticed many people were more focused on the actual performances during the festival rather than running around taking selfies for Instagram of their outfits.  Don’t get me wrong: there was still some awesome street style… But it wasn’t the main focus as it typically is at other festivals like Coachella.  So if you’re big into the music scene rather than the “I’m here because it’s a fad” thing, OSL is totally for you!

4. Kanye lies about Kim to rouse the crowd.  Okay, so maybe this isn’t all the time, but Kanye really got the crowd’s attention when he began “Bound 2″ as an introduction to Kim Kardashian, saying it was her first performance watching him as a married couple.  Well, being a writer in the industry, I happened to have written up at least two other articles in which she was there watching post-Kimye wedding.

5. Still, his performance proved he’s one of the greatest.  I haven’t always been a huge Kanye fan.  In fact, I’ve written several articles poking fun at his conceited personality and over-the-top ways.  But I have to be honest with you, his show was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Yeah, the diamond-encrusted face mask was a little crazy… But it only added to the overall hype of the performance.  He played a lot of his oldies and many of his new songs, and it was a great way to end the first day of the festival.

6. Haim is about to blow up.  While they’re already fairly popular,  Haim proved during their show the second day of OSL that they could really be so much bigger.  The crowd was totally engrossed in their music and the stage was absolutely packed.  I couldn’t believe how many (very cold) people were packed together watching.  So mark my words when I say: Haim is about to be the next big thing!

7. The festival grounds are much bigger than you think.  Speaking of different stages, about half way into the second day I realized there were certain areas of the festival and certain stages I hadn’t even seen yet!  And that’s probably because Golden Gate Park is much, much bigger than an out-of-towner would assume.  So if you’re planning to attend next year, make sure you bring your walking shoes! (Don’t end up like me, with blisters all of my feet).

8. Macklemore made us roll our eyes.  I’ve seen Macklemore perform at a pre-Grammy’s, and his performance at OSL was pretty much… The same?  I feel like he’s exploiting the whole “Same Love” / indie theme with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” on repeat.

9. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers proved they’ve still got it. As opposed to Macklemore, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers was my absolute favorite performance of the whole festival.  Tom proved what a legendary rock and roll icon he truly is, performing both new and old songs the whole crowd couldn’t get enough of.  It was definitely a moment everyone put down their phones, raised their glasses and breathed in as historic.

Did you attend Outside Lands?  Or do you think you’ll attend in the future?  Comment below!