Outside Lands Festival Diary: Part 1

by Gordon Elgart on August 28, 2009

I have to know this backwards and forwards

I have to know this backwards and forwards

Some news organizations get full access to festivals like Outside Lands.  They get a photo pass, backstage access, free tickets, free food, special parking, and other forms of special treatment.  Some blogs get a lower level of access to these festivals, which would include free tickets, and perhaps a photo pass. And finally, there’s up-and-coming, fast growing music sites like Spinning Platters, who work for a ticket.  This will give you an entirely different perspective on Outside Lands, access be damned.  We’re not here to hobnob, we’re here to have a good time.  And answer your questions at the info booth.

Thursday night was the volunteer orientation meeting, for which I traveled all the way from my comfy home in Oakland out to Speedway Meadow at Golden Gate Park for 20 minutes of information that probably would have made it into my brain in an email.  No dress code, smile a lot, be on time for your shift: it’s akin to being treated like we’ve never had a job before.  It’s a good thing I went, though, because they had set me up with an employee ticket for the wrong day!  Also, I got to catch up with a lot of friends who are working with me, and also get a feeling for how to get to the volunteer check-in on future days.

After the orientation and some Thai food, I headed over to the Rickshaw Stop to see an official Outside Lands night show.  My first disappointment was that they took my entire ticket, leaving me without a ticket stub.  I specifically went in person to the Independent just so I would have a ticket stub, and I was denied access to it.  I know Another Planet is big on the customer experience, so here’s a suggestion for them if they happen to be reading: let your patrons keep their ticket stub.  Some of us have been collecting these for years, and are bizarrely obsessive about it, present company included.

That was my final disappointment for the evening, as Howlin’ Rain came out and blew my mind.  I had no idea what this band was, even though they’re an Oakland band.  (Oakland is the new Brooklyn.)  The lead singer wailed like an old-time blues legend while playing his custom Black Devil guitar.  The lead guitarist ripped into intense solos, the bass player grooved like mofo, and the drummer laid into his double-bass pedal with glee.  This was the opening band?  Sweet.  I’ll be checking them out again.

Akron/Family was the headliner, and although I’ve been really into their newest record, Set ’em Wild, Set ’em Free, I had no idea how many people were in the band, or what they looked like.  I know a friend of mine thinks the bass player is really cute, but that’s all I know.  I was surprised to see that they were a three piece.  Their sound had me thinking that there must be five or six guys in the band, making noise on all sorts of instruments.  What surprised me about their show is that they’re basically a jam band.  Their songwriting has a Phish-like quality:  simple lyrics, simple melodies, and of course massive explorations into solo and band jams.  It sounded really good, but it was not what I was expecting.  The crowd was really lively, though, clapping and singing along to parts where they knew they were supposed to.  I didn’t know, obviously.  I didn’t even know how many people were in the band!

It’s Friday morning now, and I’m about to head out to the city again to catch some bands.  On the schedule for today are Akron/Family (again, if I make it on time), Los Campesinos!, Zee Avi, Silversun Pickups, Tom Jones or Kinky, and Pearl Jam.  Look for my diary, part two, either late tonight or early tomorrow.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Butterworth August 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Sounds fun, I wish I wasn’t too old and lazy for this stuff LOL


Vanessa August 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Were there bands practicing on Thursday night? There was some noise I could already hear from my place.

I’ll have the cheapest tickets to this show, just sit at home with the windows open and listen hard.


Marie Carney August 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I heard some sort of sound check out my window last night too, and the banging started around 6:30 this morning… I don’t know what they were doing! But when I left for work at seven they already had people standing there, guarding the pearly gates!
Not looking forward to the traffic tonight.
And I’m sure my roommates are going to be pissed about parking (I have the driveway all weekend, muhahahahahahahahahahaha!)

And you can almost see my house on that map! I think it’s behind one of those trees…


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