It's a wonder that the Bay Area went so long without a big outdoor music festival. After all, we're saturated with music lovers and concert junkies, we've got some of the best parks on the planet, and our late-summer sunshine just begs for a little daytime drinking and rocking out. More high-energy than Power to the Peaceful or Harmony Fest, more mainstream than indie-oriented events like Noise Pop and Treasure Island, and certainly bigger than all of them, last year's inaugural Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival promised to be the Bay Area's answer to Lollapalooza or Coachella. And it definitely delivered: the festival snagged big-name headliners like Radiohead and Tom Petty, drew upwards of 100,000 people over three days, and quickly established itself as an annual institution.
The festival's second iteration looks to be just as epic. Like last year, it's being put on by Superfly Productions — the folks behind Bonnaroo — along with Starr Hill Presents and Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment, and will feature more than sixty acts on eight stages over the course of three jam-packed days. Crowd-pleasers like Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam should satisfy the KFOG set, but the promoters have rounded out the lineup with a number of up-and-coming indie gems (Deerhunter, the National, Band of Horses), pop and hip-hop acts (M.I.A., the Black Eyed Peas, Q-Tip), and local musicians (The Dodos, Albino!, Raphael Saadiq). "Musical tastes swing pretty wide here, so we wanted this festival to reflect those tastes," said Allen Scott of Another Planet. Smaller tents and sponsored lounges will also host comedy and variety acts and other activities, and a dizzying array of vendors will be on hand to sell Bay Areafied festival food and drink (think Tomales Bay oysters and local wines).
Last year suffered its share of technical hiccups, but putting on a show of this size is bound to bring difficulties, and this year the promoters appear to have learned from their mistakes. Free bike valets, shuttles, and beefed-up bus lines should prevent some of last year's transportation problems, and an earlier Friday start time will help alleviate the crowd-control issues. Rick Farman of Superfly said he expected this year's show to run more smoothly. "I think any time you do an event the second time, you just get better at it, especially on the logistics end."
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