Just got back from Outside Lands. And, as I write this, I reflect on the vastly different experience this SF-based festival is compared to Coachella (an annual musical rite of passage I attended once again this past Spring). Vastly different. Yet, in some critical ways (the headliners!), very much the same. Yet, both classic in their own way.
-- Outside Lands' Northern California vibe v. Coachella's Southern California -- a very different mind-set and way of life;
-- which different way of life is very much fueled by the fundamentally different weather, which directly impacts the festival experience -- Outside Lands was drizzly and frigid again this year (I last attended 2 years back and experienced the same), whereas Coachella (as always) was scorching sun and blistering furnace-like heat (temperatures regularly surpass 100 degrees);
-- this fundamentally different weather leads to vastly different clothing and overall festival atmosphere; Outside Lands is multi-layered (upon layer!), dark clothing, big boots (but definitely not cowboy boots) and more serious overall; whereas Coachella is completely de-layered (frequently no layers of clothing at all!), light airy clothing and colors (when clothing is worn), and flip flops (or bare feet), making the overall festival vibe "lighter," frenetic and frequently LA sexual;
-- which is driven even more deeply by the very different musical themes underpinning each festival; Outside Lands primarily rocks out (with a heavy dosage of old school classic rock), whereas Coachella -- which has always been very indie -- has now seemingly become overtaken by EDM (with the Sahara Tent taking center stage this year).
Despite these fundamental differences, especially this year, both festivals shared many of the same headliners and secondary acts -- including headliner Red Hot Chili Peppers, second stage main act Phoenix, main stage thriller Vampire Weekend, indie darlings Foals and on an on ..... Now, with each festival featuring well over 100 acts, overlap is bound to happen. But, this year there seemed to be more than usual which likely impacts overall festival attendance for Outside Lands, since it comes later in the year.
Finally, another similarity -- both festivals are well-oiled machines at this point. Each festival becomes a major city in itself over its respective weekend, drawing well over 100,000 attendees. That's a lot of porta-poddies to set up an deliver! Yet, each gets it right. Yes, there are lines. But, nowhere do I see any major festival melt-downs.
Oh yes -- and one more thing. Both festivals are "must attend" events (at least once) ... exhausting ... yet mandatory for any person who considers him or herself a music fan.