Outside Lands highlights that have nothing to do with music
FESTIVAL I'm that person at the concert who is facing 90 degrees in the wrong direction when the DJ just busted everyone's ankles or the guitarist is smashing an axe on the drummer's head. I'm like: when did this festival relocate the bathrooms to the left of the Sunset Harmony Stage? The things we get excited over. Anyways, Outside Land producer Allen Scott of Another Planet Entertainment gave me (and now you!) some gems to hunt for and meditate on when the attention deficit takes over mid-John Fogerty.
McLaren Pass: You know that elevated pine glade up the hill from the horse corrals? During Hardly Strictly Bluegrass its luxuriously empty shade it is the perfect anti-crowd. In previous years of Outside Lands it's been purposed as a VIP section — but this year, says Scott "it'll be a surreal little experience." The once-mellow path that runs along the ridge will open onto "Food Truck Forest," a Mexican beer-and-burrito area dubbed "The Mission," and perhaps most excitingly, "Chocolands," where licorice lamp posts and gummi bear lanterns designed by a guy who does work for Family Guy and Tim Burton's films will hang over stands staffed by local chocolatiers.
Some numbers: Outside Lands gives $3 million to the Recreation and Parks Department in exchange for using Speedway Meadows. The festival employs 2,500 people during the course of the weekend, including 500 security guards — some of them mounted on horses for added scariness for all those people who for sure are not sneaking into the festival. 97 percent of the festie workers are local hires.
Tighten it up: I was a serious pain in the ass about asking how people sneak into the festival (er, completely in the spirit of learning about the festival's infrastructure — obviously I advocate paying lots of money to Outside Lands). Scott, the intelligent festival spokesperson that he is, wouldn't give me anything juicy except that "we're beefing up one area of the park that has been an Achilles heel." And that he thinks that with measures like double fence layers around the festival very few people make it in without paying, so there.
Brush off: Perhaps you'll notice a distinct lack of underbrush along the north end of the park area between the Twin Peaks and Panhandle stages. This isn't a festival-driven pruning, Scott tells me — rather, Golden Gate Park arborists are attempting to return Speedway Meadows to its original design, which apparently involved a less bushy look.
Kitty city: I asked Scott what the biggest risk is that Outside Lands poses to Golden Gate Park's ecosystem. He may or may not have understood what I was asking because he answered: "feral cats." Apparently the fest has a responsibility to feed the furry devils and mitigate disturbance to their habitat. New area suggestion for next year: Tunalands.
Major lasers: Is the Polo Field feeling particularly level this year? According to Scott, the sense of equilibrium flooding your innermost soul during Phish's mega-set on Friday will be due in part to Rec and Parks having laser-graded the grassy expanse where the main stage resides.
OUTSIDE LANDS Fri/12-Sun/14, $85-450. Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park. www.sfoutsidelands.com