2016 is the year Outside Lands got really really BIG! The people, the stalls, the environment, it was a different world, not sure if good or not, but definitely different. This was my 4th attendance and never had I seen so many people here, it was just crazy. It may have been due to Radiohead headlining Day 2 this year, but I suspect not. Outside Lands had come of age…
Day 1 (Friday) was anyway just a bonus for me with Duran Duran (whom I had seen once before) and LCD Soundsystem (whom I had never even heard of before). I started late just in time for Duran Duran (who weren’t the headliners for Day 1, LCD Soundsystem was), took the train into San Francisco (as I knew I will get high-lucky) and then an Uber to the Golden Gate Park but through some really beautiful and classy neighbourhood in SF; I had never seen those parts and neither had the Uber driver and even he had a hard time keeping his eyes on the road. Now every year when I head out to this 3-day festival, I always have a harrowing time figuring out the North Entrance, the South Entrance, any entrance and usually end up wandering around for half an hour just trying to figure where to enter from. This time I got a little lucky, saw a volunteer and he directed me, though I still ended up walking 15 mins or so. Now you may think what’s the big deal with a 15 mins walk. But when you are late for a concert and are finally near enough to hear a band playing and still trying to figure out how you can get in, then 15 mins is almost an eternity!
I finally entered near the stage Sutro which was opposite to where Duran Duran was and so my sojourn was not over yet. The crowd in front of Sutro was a welcome although surprising sight and gave me a inkling of how big Outside Lands (OL) was going to be this year. I hurried on towards Duran Duran when suddenly the welcome words “PORK BELLY” greeted me and I thanked my lucky heavens, though a bit prematurely! Because not being able to eat something that you paid $15 for as it was so bad, is kind of a bummer!! (I actually clicked a picture of the barely-eaten-then-discarded burger, but some of you might be eating as you read this so…)
And finally reached the Land’s End stage where Duran Duran had already performed a couple of their songs. Well better late than never. But my issue with such huge festivals is that I too go for the difference in experience as compared to a concert, however the music and the performance is always paramount and unless you come really early there is very slim chance that you will get up close and personal with the band on stage. And the further back you are the more disconnected to the performance you feel, as if its really their concert (the front-standers) and us back-slackers didn’t really buy a ticket so this is the best free view you will get! I know I could have just gone earlier but like I said this was just the bonus day for me.
Since I came so far, so I hung around for LCD Soundsystem whom I had never heard of, let alone hear their music before. But they were pretty good and enjoyed some good music heard for the first time live. Didn’t get too near to the stage and was comfortable hanging back, checking out the beautiful people and soaking in the positive energy and good vibes of people listening to music, smoking weed, drinking beer, napping on the ground.
That is one of the things I love about Outside Lands, it has a very cool and relaxed feel, true San Francisco-style. The crowd is simply happy and high, the grounds are manageable, they usually have a great line-up, always a few I am interested in checking out each year, and has some strange nooks and corners that feels great exploring. They also have a wide selection of craft beers and great wines (called Beer Land and Wine Land) but as I went sober half a year back so skillfully bypassed these nostalgic reminders! Over the years the crowd has multiplied and have gone from hippie to hip but that I guess is inevitable. And the only reason I am mentioning that here is because I always go alone so the previous experiences were a bit more personal, a bit more intimate, its like a yearly pilgrimage for me and its hard to find communion with the ethereal spirits when there is so much hustle-bustle around.
Finally as I was heading back before the show ended to beat the exit-rush, I looked back and saw these fluorescent people having fun so far away but still immersed in the music. It made me smile and then feel a little old. Anyway, Radiohead, here I come (again)!
- Concert#: 95
- Season: 2016
- Date: 5-August-2016
- Band/Artist: LCD Soundsystem, Duran Duran
- Tour Name: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
- Supporting acts: Lots
- Venue: Golden Gate Park
- City: San Francisco, CA
- Setlist: Duran Duran, LCD Soundsystem
- My Concert Quotient: 3/5