There’s something in the air of Summertime that can make it feel almost magical. School is out, you’re able to enjoy the outside a little bit more with your friends and family and you can jump in a pool to cool down. Sometimes the heat can be a little much, a little overwhelming, and halfway through you’re not-so-patiently waiting for the trees to turn and that cold breeze to head right in.
Whenever the Summer rolls around, I always get this antsy feeling where I just want to get out and do something, see some sites, be around good people and great music. That being said, a few years ago I discovered a music festival over 300 miles away from my residence and in the lovely city of San Francisco. Outside Lands is a music, wine, beer, art, food and comedy festival that takes place in the gorgeous open land of Golden Gate Park.
This year was my third time attending Outside Lands and for some reason, it keeps getting better and better. This year, being a seasoned veteran, I mapped everything out. I know which stage to hit at what time to not miss a following act close by. But because I'm sometimes such a "seasoned veteran", I forget that life happens and sometimes happy accidents happen which encourage you to discover new and exciting things.
I had two “Cannot Miss” acts this year – Miguel, because he’s got the voice of an angel and Zedd because I’ve heard the set is amazing with an even better light show to boot. The truth can definitely be said for Zedd, a true experience that was not along an all-night sing-along party, but a visual that I will never forget. Lasers, digital backgrounds resembling a kaleidoscope, and an all around “beat drop” flash synched so perfectly, you couldn’t tell it they were controlled by the music. And Miguel… well… life happened. I missed him.
Happy accidents along the way lead me to discover some really fun live acts including British Pop trio, Years & Years, Australian dance group Rufus Du Sol, provocative, unapologetic, sexually charged Peaches, Chicago hip-hop star Chance the Rapper and who I see being the next big thing, The Knocks, who and I have to hand it to – were probably the set where I had the most fun.
I cannot say I was disappointed during any set, the energy and talent that radiates for the talent in a live show jolts your body with a euphoric tingle. These people pour their hearts and souls into these performances and you can’t help to feel a little changed. Third Eye Blind, yes the 90’s rockers, sounded exactly like the album and I was curious if it was pre-recorded… it wasn’t. Lionel Richie is nearing 70 and shook it like this was the 70’s. Although, I’m a little mad he teased the crowd with leading us to believe Diana Ross was en route to duet "Endless Love". She wasn’t. Thanks.
Big Grams, the partnering of Big Boy from OutKast and Phantogram, put on such an energetic show. The mix of some OutKast songs and the new collaboration was something you couldn’t help moving to. I can only use one word to describe it, and forgive me for saying, but it was fierce. And another top notch fun-filled experience goes to Major Lazer, while I do have one strong complaint… please play an entire song. Everyone would get so into a song that played for about a minute and a half before a new one would come thrusting on. It was a sad, sad, day. However, no joke, they will make you dance almost forcibly. It’s fantastic.
I cannot stress how much this festival is a must-experience at least once in your life. This year, I was lucky enough to join three people who are frequent festival-goers and first-time Outside Landers. They all agreed, hands down, Outside Lands was their favorite festival. The food, the weather, the art you can take in , the music, all contributed to this being an amazing, if not life changing experience.
But, I do have a few words of advice for you to survive this “life changing experience”, so follow closely. OK, heads up, you need to learn the lay of the land, it can get confusing. Shortcuts, stage locations, bathrooms, learn it all the first day you get there. You’ll thank me later. Sunscreen and hand sanitizer will be your Messiah. It may be overcast, but those pesky rays of sunshine will come through and you will get burned. Also, the porta potties run out of sanitizer pretty quick, so save yourself a hassle and stock up! Wear shoes that are not only lightweight, but support your feet. We walked an average of nearly 10 miles per day!. Hashtag Ouch. And finally, but most importantly, put your phone away, relax and enjoy the music. You’ll remember these moments better and see them through your own eyes, not the screen of an iPhone.
In conclusion, consider the trip, plan it out and make it the best experience you can have with your homies. Don’t forget to check out The Knocks whenever they're near you because they were by far my favorite show and they just announced they’ll be opening for Justin Bieber on the European leg of his tour. So, expect great things from this Brooklyn duo.