Now in its seventh year, previous installments of the Outside Lands Music Festival have sold out of tickets in the days leading up to the event.
This year was a different story, however. Concertgoers gobbled up tickets speedily at every on-sale opportunity, leading to a festival that was sold out months in advance.
They bought in droves to flock this weekend to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to hear hip-hop sensation Kanye West, rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and dance rockers The Killers. They top a bill that, along with nearly 70 others, includes indie pop rockers Death Cab for Cutie, trance legend Tiësto and UK house duo Disclosure, which has one of the summer’s biggest hits with “Latch.”
The rapid sales owe, in some part, to the embrace of music festival attendance as a rite of passage for a generation of young Americans. It is telling that presale tickets to next year’s installment of Indio’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival have already sold out while the lineup isn’t expected until January 2015.
While Coachella is seen as a festival circuit juggernaut – many Southern Californians attend, but it draws a nationwide audience – Outside Lands continues to double down on what makes its host city special.
While it draws top-tier talent from around the globe, it cultivates local flavor in its choice of food, wine and beer vendors as well as on-stage talent. Among this year’s Bay Area acts performing are power pop rocker Mikal Cronin, hip-hop artist Watsky and bluegrass quintet The Brothers Comatose.
Although The Brothers Comatose will helm the festival’s smallest stage, singer and guitarist Ben Morrison, who lives near the park, said it’s a big deal for the band to be part of such a “cool and prestigious festival.”
“It’s kind of like, ‘What are we doing here?’ ” Morrison said. “We’re on the same bill as Flaming Lips, Tom Petty, Kanye West, Macklemore, Arctic Monkeys. . . . It’s awesome, but it’s a little bit jarring.”
The gig serves as a homecoming for The Brothers Comatose, which has traversed the nation this year playing gigs, supporting its second album, 2012’s “Respect the Van.”
Morrison said festivals attract some of The Brothers Comatose’s biggest crowds and he expects Outside Lands to be no exception. However, that doesn’t mean messing with what works. After months on the road, Morrison said he and his bandmates are “getting pretty tight as a band because we’ve been playing nonstop.”
“We just do what we do. It’s cool,” he said. “The only thing that I would be concerned about is competing for people’s attention or whatever because you want people to come and see you.”
When he’s not competing for their listening ears, Morrison said he’s looking forward to the diversity offered between all of the stages, a tapestry of genres available to sample, which can lead fans to try new things, something in keeping with the spirit of the host city.
“It brings together people of all different kinds of cultures and musical tastes,” he said. “A festival is a really great, no-pressure way for people to check out new music.”
While Outside Lands brings together a plethora of musicians representing a variety of genres, the sold-out crowd will see the introduction of the Gastromagic Stage, which is said to combine music, food, drink and magic. Esquire Network’s Sip & Shave area will allow attendees to have their facial hair trimmed on site.
A Janis Joplin tribute is scheduled for Friday afternoon featuring country artist Kacey Musgraves, roots rocker Nicki Bluhm and Mary Bridget Davies, a Tony Award nominee for her performance as the late, gravel-voiced blues singer in the Broadway musical “A Night With Janis Joplin.”
Return festivalgoers and first-timers will find familiar installations as well, such as the comedy tent The Barbary with this year’s headliners, Lewis Black and Aisha Tyler; The House by Heineken DJ dome, including sets by Green Velvet, Gorgon City and DJ Icey; and more than 70 Bay Area eateries, 30 wineries, 30 brewing companies in Beer Lands and outsider art installations.
For the uninitiated, dressing in layers and comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes is recommended. Parking in the area is difficult, so use of public transportation is suggested.
To see tweets, pics and Vines from the festival, follow @ndeciccodr. For more information about the festival, visit SFOutsideLands.com.
To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.