At this point in the summer, festival season is all but coming to a close. There’s been Coachella, Ultra, Governor’s Ball, EDC, Lollapalooza, even Newport Jazz Festival — whatever your jam, there’s been a festival for it.
But August boasts a few notable happenings, including Outside Lands this weekend in San Francisco. Phoenix, Kaskade, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even Paul McCartney will play to a (potentially classier) crowd than the scantily-(neon)-clad ravers at EDC or haute hippies at Coachella. While Coachella was, technically, a “music and arts festival” — there were some exceptionally trippy installations like the giant light up snail and a mad scientist themed charging station/installation — the emphasis was certainly on the music. While Outside Lands will host just as many big name (and indie) acts on its numerous stages, an added emphasis on wine and organically farmed food gives this eco-friendly festival a local, SF flair. Various Bay Area favorites including Kara’s Cupcakes, Freshroll Vietnamese Rolls and Bowls, Il Cane Rosso, Rich Table, and Nopalito will serve food, and wine, beer and sake will be available from both local and international sources as well. You can even partake in Dennis, David and Dan Lee of Namu and Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery’s Outside Lands Summer Pairings Series, which features a prix fixe menu of three pints from the Brewery and four courses from Namu.
If you’re more of an oenophile than brew master, check out Wine Lands’ wine tasting led by Food & Wine magazine’s “Sommelier of the Year: 2013,” Peter Eastlake. Not only can you taste 120 wines from across California, but you can also chat with the winemakers on your music break.
The festival has also teamed up with artist and curator Jeben Berg and local Juxtapoz magazine to present numerous artists who will partake in live painting, musical theater, art-performance, and installations.
While other festivals claim sustainability initiatives, Outside Lands takes eco to a new level with Eco Lands. The festival has featured this “educational forum of sustainability” for the past five years, including urban gardening workshops, local community organizations, national NGO’s, a farmer’s market, locally sourced food vendors, and a refillable water station.
With so many options and often similar lineups, choosing which festival to attend may be almost as difficult as securing presale Coachella tickets. Some argue that with all of these new features, music festivals have steered too far from their original focus: music. But with the ever-evolving creative landscape, perhaps the future of festivals isn’t doomed but blossoming. Outside Lands is an illustration of how celebrations of music and cultural cuisine cannot only coexist, but even enhance one another. Every festival destination has the opportunity to show off its local flair to visitors and natives alike, in the festival spirit of people coming together for a joint love of creativity and live performance. And what place could be more appropriate for communal love than one of the birthplaces of the hippie?
If you do find yourself at Outside Lands this weekend, try not to leave your heart in San Francisco this weekend … though if you accidentally do, I really can’t blame you.