This past weekend Uproxx Music road tripped from Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend the tenth annual Outside Lands. In our estimation, this festival is one that puts fans and artists first, but as Uproxx’s festival correspondent, I’ve put together a more detailed and specific report card to show how unique this festival is, and to help those who are trying to find the festival that is right for them.
It is with zero sarcasm that I tell you that the very first thing I did after entering the festival gates was to go find the bathroom. One, because after hours in the car I genuinely had to pee, and two from covering the festival circuit I’ve discovered that the bathroom situation serves as a litmus test for what type of weekend I’m getting myself into. I made my way across the polo field to the tune of Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)” and found a row of standard port-a-pottys, pretty anti-climactic but to be expected for GA. Throughout the weekend I would be continually impressed by how many port-a-pottys could be found tucked away in corners of the festival, you were never far away from one, even if it wasn’t the cleanest.
Back in VIP I prepared myself for the typical flushable trailer situation only to round the corner and be faced with… more port-a-pottys. I know, I was shocked too. For $795 for a 3 day wristband, VIP festival goers had access to nicer, cleaner, more modern port-a-pottys. The luxury aspect here was that you never had to wait for one, and they were seemingly always being cleaned. There were also strings of lights across them providing a soft glow and plenty of tables with mirrors to fix your face and a whole row of real sinks, each with it’s own succulent. It was actually kind of genius and set the tone for Outside Lands being a festival that thinks smarter, not harder.
This was my second time ever visiting San Francisco, and as a new Angeleno, I was stoked to break out my jeans and hoodies. A friend once described Outside Lands to me as “Coachella but in flannel shirts” and while that’s overly simplistic, it’s a good entry point. The moody fall-like weather gave the whole thing a more relaxed feel that several of the artists mentioned during their sets. Lorde made us turn around and look at the mist kissing the tops of the trees. Yes, I saw Lorde again, get over it.
We were staying in Union Square (also known as the Times Square of San Francisco) so getting to the festival located at Golden Gate Park was about a 20 minute, $15 Lyft ride each way. Not the most ideal, but taking public transportation would take about 5 times as long. Of course, so would attempting to drive in between the hotel and the park, which at first seemed like it might be an option, until we spotted locals selling their own parking spots for up to $50, and realized just how far away festival parking was. Thank God for ride-sharing apps.