This past weekend I attended the 4th annual Outside Lands in my very own hometown of San Francisco! This was my third time attending, but my first time obtaining actual tickets. In the past, I’ve volunteered to get in and snuck in (shhhhh….), but I was fortunate to win tickets from one of the many contests I entered. The line-up was insanely good this year, so I was determined to attend this year’s festival.
However, because I didn’t pay ANYTHING for my tickets, I didn’t feel the need to convince myself that I was having THE BEST TIME EVER! Rather, I could look at everything in an objective manner. That’s not to say that I tried to pick apart every single thing at Outside Lands, but I did note a few things that kind of reinforced my belief that I will never pay $200 for Outside Lands. The ticket price alone is a major turn-off, especially for a poor student like me who isn’t bringing in any income at the moment, but I’ve tried to compile a list of some of the things that bothered me and put me off on paying major bucks to attend a festival.
1. TALL PEOPLE LOVE TO STAND RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
I’m short. I’ve been the same height since the 6th grade. This doesn’t bode well for me at concerts where the majority of the crowd is taller than me. I’ve been going to shows since I was 14/15 and I can still remember how the girl at the Rooney show rested her armpit on my shoulder. Yes, I have suffered because of my height. Regardless, I still attend shows because they’re fun and I know that I should probably aim to be in the front to get a decent view.
Anyway, back to OSL. So there I was standing and enjoying my decent view of the Sutro Stage right before The Joy Formidable’s set. Right after the band finished soundchecking, this girl walks directly in front of me! All of a sudden, my view of the stage is completely obliterated by her head! My perfect view of the stage was now ruined by a head of blonde hair. Sadly, this was not the first instance in which my view was ruined by a person’s head or back.
After Ok Go’s set on Saturday, I came up with the “brilliant” idea to have my friends move out of the middle of the pit towards the barricade dividing the audience in half. I thought our view would be decent there and we’d at least have the barricade. Unfortunately about 50 other people had the same idea, so about half the people around us pushed forward while the other half pushed alongside us. It failed obviously. I ended up behind this 6 foot old guy and my arm squished between his back and this other girl. At first there was a average height man in front of me so I could at least see the stage if I stood on my tiptoes. Things got worse, though, when the old guy in front me asked the average height man to switch places with his son. Suddenly, a GIANT in a blue hoodie was standing directly in front of me. And if you’ve ever been to a concert, you may be aware of how close people are packed in. I was, essentially, pushed up against him, practically grinding against him. Not by choice! The girl behind me was also complaining about not seeing anything so she decided that she could see better by pushing against me, which pushed me against the giant. It was an awkward, sexy sandwich. Yep.
2. PEOPLE WHO BRING THEIR DSLRS INTO THE CROWD/PIT
I’m not going to lie, I’d love to have a DSLR. I’d love to have the ability to take great pictures and just look like I actually know what I’m doing with a camera; having that giant camera slung around your neck definitely adds to that illusion. However, I completely dislike seeing people bring their fancy cameras into the crowd. There’s a reason why most venues stop you from bringing in large cameras. THEY BLOCK EVERYONE’S VIEW OF THE STAGE. Not to mention the fact that sticking your expensive camera up in the air where people may crowdsurf isn’t the smartest idea.
So there I was, enjoying Phantogram’s set on Friday when this girl appeared next to me cradling a fancy DSLR camera. She seemed to be really enjoying the music so I didn’t mind her presence…that is until I saw her lifting her large camera to take photos and thus, completely blocking my view.
She didn’t do it too often, thankfully, but it was still annoying. I remember reading this article from my Alternative Press magazine from 2003 (yes I used to read that magazine) in which they asked photographers for their tips. One that kept popping up in my mind throughout the weekend was, basically, “Get to the show early if you’re going to take photos…no one likes having to deal with the photographer carrying a bunch of gear and blocking the view.”
Not to say that the photographers in the front weren’t annoying as well. I was loving Foster the People’s set when I suddenly noticed a giant DSLR camera bobbing up and down in front.
It was funny, but definitely distracting. I couldn’t focus on the music because all I could see was a camera moving around near the band’s faces.
3. DUMB SECURITY POLICIES
One of the other things that bugged over the course of the weekend was the policy that you couldn’t bring in open containers, including refillable water bottles. I understand the goal of this rule is to prevent people from smuggling in alcohol and other “substances” (LOL) but it seemed stupid, considering the fact that this festival preached green tactics and such. They encouraged festival goers to bring in re-useable bottles, but then we all had to empty them at security check? Luckily, I realized that I could just pour out a few drops of my water and security wouldn’t notice. Honestly, though it was, as I overheard one girl complain, “…a complete waste…”
4.WHY DOES EVERYONE DRESS THE SAME?!
I live in the Sunset, which is fairly close to Golden Gate Park, so I think I’m pretty good at being able to differentiate the Sunset locals from out-of-towners. Since OSL began four years ago, Irving Street, typically filled with Asians, senior citizens, and mothers, get overrun with, for lack of a better word, hipsters. Usually, people who look like Tumblr threw up on them.
It gets worse once you’re inside where you may be stuck in a sea of people who are all sporting the same sunglasses (Ray-Bans or knock-offs) and headbands. I looked around and I could count at least 10 girls near me wearing headbands and many more (guys and girls) wearing identical sunglasses. I’m not quite sure what it is about festivals, but people come out in droves wearing their best faux/”hipster” garb.
I’m not gonna front though, I wore my AA blue hoodie just like thousands of other people and some guy ran up to me and said, “Nice hoodie!” and then I realized he was wearing the same thing.
Luckily, this was not as ubiquitous at OSL as it is at emo/punk shows (Warped Tour, I’m looking at you), but it definitely happened during the Arctic Monkeys set on Saturday. My friends and I were, once again, packed in and practically grinding against one another and various strangers when we could feel a strong push behind us. All of a sudden, there was a body above our heads and because none of us are strong enough (or care enough) to carry another human beings above us, he felt directly in front/top of us. The guy also happened to be the guy who pushed past us earlier, claiming he had to “find his friend”, so he somehow made his way behind us and tried to crowdsurf back to the front. Great.
I’ve never crowdsurfed, nor do I want to. I’m scared of heights as it is and to have to trust other people to successfully carry me around makes me want to die. I suppose I can see how it’s fun, especially when the mood and music are right, but my God is it annoying when you expect ME to carry your bony (or not so bony) bod to the front of the stage. Plus, it’s never fun getting kicked in the head.
Still, one of the best things I saw this weekend came courtesy of a crowdsurfer. A girl also standing near the crowd dividing barricade decided that she would partake in the fun and had her friend lift her up. Her “Yeaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!” scream announced to those of us around her that she would be crowdsurfing, so immediately hands went up to try to carry her across. Unfortunately for her, a security guard right on the other side of the barricade also heard her and grabbed her ankle and began pulling her back towards the barricade. The result was a tug-of-war between security guard and audience members, with the girl as the rope. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in awhile and taught me that if I ever wanted to crowdsurf, doing it right near the barricade and security guards isn’t the best idea.
I think those are all the pet peeves I can think of right now. There are more, but most of those come with attending any type of concert, so I usually just brush them off. Overall, Outside Lands was a ton of fun and definitely a highlight of my summer. Thanks again to EggDrop app for giving me free tickets and to all of my friends who went with me. I can’t wait till next year and depending on the line-up, maybe I’ll pay for tickets. Maybe. 🙂