Outside Lands is less than a week away. If you’re anything like us, you’re currently scouring the recently released schedule of set times and plotting a winding path from the Polo Grounds to the edge of Hellman Hollow and back again.
There are certainly some tough choices to make. Fans of SZA and Phoebe Bridgers, for instance, find themselves wishing they could somehow be in two places at the same time.
In addition to gorging on music from Post Malone, Green Day and many more talented artists, attendees may carve out time to visit “Grass Lands”—the festival’s designated zone for buying and consuming cannabis. The “Wine Lands,” “Beer Lands,” “Cocktail Magic” and various food service areas are also sure to draw hordes of hungry and thirsty festival goers.
But Outside Lands has more to offer than music, mind-altering substances and killer munchies. Whether you’re a seasoned Outside Lands veteran or completely new to the event, here are some often overlooked—but actually very interesting—attractions at the festival.
Murals by Local Artists & Live Painting
It’s hard to miss the mural on the Polo Field tunnel or the twin windmills that greet visitors every year, but did you know that the festival hosts a range of murals—over 260—by Bay Area artists and nationally known street artists? Most can be found along Hellman Hollow, and attendees can see artworks from years past on the trek from the Twin Peaks Stage to the main Lands End Stage.
Bryan Duquette, vice president of concerts and festivals for Another Planet Entertainment and a co-founder of Outside Lands, said that a new windmill will rise this year after one was damaged last year due to rain. Just like posing for a photo with Ranger Dave, it’s a highly “Instagrammable moment,” he said.
You can watch new artworks being created during live painting sessions at the Outsider Art Triangle. Bay Area cannabis entrepreneur and Haight Street vintage clothing proprietor Sworne One LORDS paints on Friday, Aug. 5. Next-level balloon artist Balloonski blows up his piece on Saturday, Aug. 6. Oakland’s Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith draws on her Nigerian, Jewish and European heritage to create massive portraits reflecting her culture, dreams and community; she’ll be painting live on Saturday, Aug. 6. And expect a Dali-esque, psychedelic palette of Groucho Marx glasses, chattering teeth and rubber ducks from surrealist graffiti artist Hiero Viega on Sunday, Aug. 7.
Read up on the full slate of artists here.
At Eco Lands—near the Panhandle Stage in Hellman Hollow—festival attendees can check in with various national and neighborhood nonprofits, including Garden for the Environment, Friends of the Urban Forest, Haight Street Art Center, Sunset Youth Services, the Western Neighborhoods Project and the Mission’s Youth Art Exchange.
“Sometimes it does get overlooked,” Duquette said, “but it’s always a really special place to be.”
Aside from the rewarding feeling that comes along with doing the right thing, Eco Lands also offers material rewards.
At the Clean Vibes Trading Post, for example, you can trade bottles, cans, compostables and more for the chance to win posters, T-shirts, VIP upgrades, and even tickets to next year’s festival.
Speaking of being rewarded for doing the right thing, if you’re still hunting for Outside Lands tickets, you might be able score passes by offloading all that e-waste you’ve been meaning to properly dispose of. Bring your old phone, tablet or laptop to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium between Aug. 2 and 4 to be entered for a chance to win tickets or upgrade your current tickets to VIP status. More details here.
Featuring cooking demos, musical performances and “comedic pairings,” GastroMagic has been bringing together big names in food, music and entertainment since 2014.
This year, GastroMagic regular and SoCal “Kogi King” Roy Choi teams up with Euphoria star and singer-songwriter Dominic Fike in an attempt to make “the best damn chicken tenders ever.” Top Chef alum Nyesha Arrington joins forces with Grammy Award-winning Latin R&B artist Kalis Uchis. And Phil Rosenthal of Netflix’s Somebody Feel Phil, will serve some mean sandwiches with daughter Lily and local TikTok phenom Salt Hank. (A few lucky audience members may even get a bite.)
Ravi Kapur of SF’s own Liholiho Yacht Club swaps stories of his culinary journey with Los Angeles’ PawPaw Rod. And you won’t want to miss Brenda’s French Soul Food’s beloved beignets whipped up with powdered sugar and plenty of hype from New Orleans bounce artist Katey Red.
Night Shows at Local Venues
Whether you don’t have the funds—or energy—for a trip to the full festival, are looking to have a more intimate concert experience, or simply can’t pass up the opportunity to see Cassian twice in one weekend, Outside Lands also has a lineup of select artists performing at local venues throughout the weekend.
Russian performance art and activist group Pussy Riot headlines a night at The Independent with ILOVEMAKONNEN, REI AMI and salem ilese on Thursday, Aug. 4. Classically trained pianist turned Grammy-nominated electronic music producer TOKiMONSTA plays a benefit for the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department on Sunday, Aug. 7. And Los Angeles rock duo Best Coast teams up with Night School at Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, Aug. 6. Check out the full slate of artists here.
Augmented Reality at Outside Lands
If the IRL Outside Lands experience is not enough for you, the festival also offers several Augmented Reality experiences scattered throughout the park. Download the Overly app and scan large artworks to immerse yourself in these digital pieces.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Christina Campodonico can be reached at [email protected]