Thumb Wars: Outside Lands

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Love It

Outside Lands is not Coachella, nor is it Lollapalooza. These music festivals tend to cater homogeneously to the taste of the 16-to-22-year-old age bracket: A plethora of electronic and rap acts along with overly indie and mainstream ends of the rock spectrum alike. There are some exceptions to the rule (Leonard Cohen, Gil Scott-Heron), but for the most part they are an adolescent audiophile's wet dream. Outside Lands has always been much more well-rounded. As both a wine and music festival, it inherently aims to also please more mature crowd. Its eclecticism may result in less bands for any one demographic to go gaga over, but those with an open mind and a true love for music can surely appreciate it.

Keep in mind that this year, Outside Lands is two days instead of three. The festival's taste in bands hasn't changed - it is just more glaringly apparent that the lineup is condensed. It boasts an impressive collection of genres. Acts range from country and reggae to dubstep and soul, covering everything in between. Never would I have expected to see the Electric Six in the same lineup as Al Green and Cat Power.

They seem to have organized the set times to minimize overlaps of similar bands, too. Reggae and rap fans can enjoy People Under the Stairs, Slightly Stoopid and Nas and Damian Marley without any conflicts, with time to explore the rest of the festival.

Outside Lands separates itself from other festivals with generous support for local performers and cuisine. San Francisco-based electronic and belly dance act Beats Antique will be playing this year, and most of the DJs on the Heineken stage are also from the Bay Area. This local interest makes Outside Lands not just a music festival but rather, a celebration of community.

-Erin Donaldson

Hate It

Ridiculing San Francisco's Outside Lands music festival seems as cruelly impatient as condemning an infant for being illiterate, toothless and entirely unable to walk alone on its own two feet. When stacked up against its elder festival peers (like that Texan fogy South by Southwest which was born in 1987), Outside Lands is but a mere baby. I want to say, "Give it time to grow, man! It's only three years old!" but like any parent watching her young offspring drool and crap its pants, I'm concerned.

While the festival has displayed growth in fixing its kinks year by year (i.e: more control on litter, offering Bauer buses in lieu of Muni's impossibly over-crowded 5 Fulton), it's the lineup that puts me at unease. Indie festival regulars Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket and the Strokes will grace the stage - but they're like the village bike: Everyone's usin' them. Then, added to the mix are head-scratchers like Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir (perhaps to invoke a little Bay Area music nostalgia) and Al Green (a music legacy, sure, but when sandwiched between Chromeo and Nas, I'm confused).

I just want to know who this baby is. What is this festival's deal? Is it a two-day event with an eclectic aesthetic (hipster-festival sluts mixed with SF history with a dash of WTF)? Is it a festival with a sense of humor. Remember last year's Tom Jones act? Amid all the rock stars that played last year, he got the most women's delicates thrown on his stage. Perfection. Or, as I fear, is this music festival in which I've devoted so much faith struggling to take its first baby steps and find its identity?

-Maggie Owens


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