By Water Bear


Even in a summer teeming with music festivals it’s hard to conjure a setting rivaling that of Outside Lands in San Francisco.


Touching down in Golden Gate Park, one of the largest urban forests in the entire world, it’s simply odd seeing this much green in a metropolitan setting. And Outside Lands, now in its fourth year, is one of America’s up-and-coming music festivals for fans of all genres, as well as lovers of food, wine and art.


Although it’s unfair to characterize San Francisco as perpetually fog-enveloped, the first day of Outside Lands was particularly chilly, followed by two days of gorgeous weather and soulful vibrations.


The festival’s organizers and promoters seem to be doing an incredible job at creating a melting pot of musical genres and styles coupled with endless forms of artistic expression and cultural influences. In addition, the festival’s commitment to green practices – such as compostables and renewable energy – is as exciting as it is encouraging. The event also includes an all-too-rare treat – fantastic gourmet food to tide you over between (and during) sets.


Fans quickly became aware of the reality that the festival had much more to offer than just music. After snapping a photo with the San Francisco Giants’ World Series trophy, one could relive their childhood making shrinky dinks and playing arcade games or watching a circus troupe perform while sampling locally sourced foods and wines. We all know we are being marketed to, but it’s more aesthetically pleasant than it has ever been.

The modern festival experience includes complete connectivity, community and storied moments of random delights everywhere you turn.


Due to the overwhelming amount of musical talent on the bill, it would be physically impossible to experience everything that Outside Lands has to offer. That fact aside, the savvy concertgoer is able to pick and choose their musical experience with the help of online schedulers and apps, or simply follow the crowd.


The Black Keys showcased the fact that you don’t have to be pretentious to be good musicians and to put on an astounding show, the Greyboy Allstars killed it, Warren Haynes held court like he always does, Lotus made sure the listener knew just how magnificent and fascinating music can be, and the Original Meters wouldn’t let technical difficulties slow them down.


Not surprisingly, headliner Phish provided the highlight of the weekend, playing for one of the most diverse audiences they’ve ever had. The quartet’s setlist was packed with favorites such as “Chalk Dust Torture,” “Fluffhead” with “Mike’s Song” into “Hydrogen” into “Weekapaug Groove.” Covers of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches in Regalia” and Ween’s “Roses Are Free” rounded out a show for the ages.


In the spirit of San Francisco’s summer of love, high vibes abounded and miracles did indeed happen.