It’s August in San Francisco, which means foggy, freezing weather. While the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is schvitzing their butts off, we’re putting sweaters on our dogs.
This means it’s the perfect time for an outdoor music festival. Nothing makes your favorite band sound better than your teeth chattering along to the music as you shiver down to your mortal soul.
Ah yes, Outside Lands is upon us. Despite the weather, it’s actually one of my favorite weekends of the year. I actually like the cold and the fog, plus it’s hilarious to see a bunch of 20-year-olds nearly die from hypothermia because they dressed like it was Coachella.
Outside Lands is kinda like homecoming for San Francisco creatives. Whether volunteering for one of the many booths or getting artist badges or media passes, we all somehow figure out a way to get in. In fact, I’ve got friends who I literally only see once a year at Outside Lands. For many of us, the social aspect ends up being as important as the musical one. When else do you get so many rad people in one place?
I can already feel you rolling your eyes right now and getting ready to type something shitty in the comments section. Yes, I know how expensive the festival is and how privileged I am that I get to attend for free. But to be fair, part of the reason these festivals are so expensive is that, as a society and a culture, we’ve decided that we don’t feel artists should get paid for the things they create. Very few of us buy music any more and the amount an artist gets paid on streaming services is a joke. I think Tidal pays the best out of all of them, and even they pay only a penny per listen. So yes, while the tickets are expensive, how else can the people who make the music that you love afford to pay their bills? But I digress…
What’s cool about Outside Lands is that, besides the music, there are so many other random attractions to entertain you. There’s a comedy club in an old circus tent, a mini wine festival, a mini golf course, demonstrations where music is paired with food, and more. Plus, each year they add something new like this year’s Grasslands, an entire area devoted to cannabis. While you can’t actually buy or smoke weed at Grasslands (come on California, chill out. It’s a music fest!) you can learn all about it and get some sweet snacks just in case you “somehow” manage to get stoned somewhere else at the festival.
Another reason I love Outside Lands so much is that I’ve seen some absolutely incredible shows there including: Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, The Who, Radiohead, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Neil Young and so many more.
To be honest, I’m not incredibly excited about this year’s lineup, but there are always shows that unexpectedly blow me away like Solange last year and Alabama Shakes a few years before that.
So yes, I’m super duper excited for this weekend. I’ll get to see some friends, hear great music, eat good food and immerse myself in a different world for a few days. And the best part is that I still get to sleep in my own bed each night!
If you see me at Outside Lands, make sure to say “hi.” I’ll have some rad stickers for you.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his awesome mailing list to stay up on the work he’s doing: http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.