OUTSIDE LANDS: A Blow-By-Blow Account Of BWE’s Most Epic Trip Ever

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Last weekend, some of the biggest and best bands from all over the world parked their fluid-stained buses in the fluid-stained bus capital of the world, San Francisco, for the Outside Lands Music Festival. Outside Lands is a 3-Day outdoor festival in San Fran’s beautiful Golden Gate Park, a park whose streams would soon run amber with the urine of drunk a-holes.

Now my own experience with music festivals was not necessarily great. Back in 2001, while I was studying abroad in Budapest, I made the “adult” decision to travel to Nuremberg, Germany (“Home of the Trials!”) for MTV’s Rock-Im-Park festival, mainly because Radiohead was going to be playing, with a side of Dave Coulier’s ex-GF ALANIS. My friends and I bought sleeping bags but decided against getting a tent, because it was June in Germany and I was Tim Pawlenty sure it would be warm enough! Meanwhile we get there and these Germans had set up camps (not like that): Not tent cities but rather beautiful homes in the middle of this concert field, with generators and heaters and halogen lights and minibars. We found a “cozy” place to plant our sleeping bags, somewhere behind a real couch some strong people had dragged in. And we fell asleep. Cut to 7 AM the next morning: It’s 40 degrees, I’ve tied the hood of my sleeping back shut save for one lone nostril sticking out of the hole, and I awoke to a random German man flicking cigarette butts at my face. This is a real thing that happened to me. (I should add the entire weekend was worth it for the one dude behind me who managed to scream “RAHDIOKOPFFF!” during Radiohead’s entire set. )

After Germany, I reclaimed my festival virginity and swore I would never return to another like it. But all of that changed ten years later, when back in April I was coaxed into attending Coachella, where white people drop acid and pretend they’re actual Native Americans.

And the festivals keep on rolling in 2011, because when I found out that one of my favorite live bands ever, Muse, was making their way to Outside Lands in San Francisco, I just knew… I had to go.

And so, I stocked my Mercury Milan to the brim with water and cherry pastilles (survival plan in case my car ended up in a ditch), picked up my BFF Annie, and drove my non-electric car up to San Francisco, “Land of Fog and What Does That Say? I Can’t See It Because Of All The Fog.”

DAY 1

Day 1 of the Festival started on Friday. Annie and I spent the morning on the Napa Valley Wine Train (which I will tell you about in detail once this hangover passes). It’s a train and you drink wine on it. It also makes you very tired and you will pray not to take a dirt nap off the Golden Gate bridge on the drive back.

We headed over to the park in the evening, our main goal being to catch The Shins. We walked into the park and proceeded to walk another 15 minutes or so towards the box office. No sign of it yet. We continued walking. For another 20 minutes. That’s something you should know about going to Outside Lands: Your feet will turn into Michael Jackson in the “Remember The Time” video.

Now, as an ex-New Yorker, walking is in my blood. Year after year, I’d pound the pavement wearing nothing more than Bounty paper towel shoes on my feet. It is because of this reason that I was recently diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis, a fancy sounding name for a really sh*tty foot disease. In other words, I was in pain. But we trudged onwards while this played, until we managed to finally get our tickets and head inside.

And that’s when we saw it:

Choco Lands. The land of chocolate!! Kind of like this!

But forgot my clogged and stretched arteries for a moment… there was also music to be heard:

The band Best Coast, a fun, surf-poppy group whose latest music video for “Our Deal” was directed by Drew Barrymore.

Then there was Macklemore, my new favorite red-headed white rapper.

But while Phish played on the main stage for somewhere around 15 and a half hours, about 50,000 people made their way over to the Twin Peaks stage to see the mellow rock sounds of The Shins.

They covered some new songs from their upcoming fourth album, as well as some classic Shins like “Phantom Limb” and “Caring Is Creepy.”

They even brought along the suitcase from Pulp Fiction:

“Vincennnnnnttt? We happy?”

“Yeah, we happy.” Note: The briefcase is full of pot brownies.

Also, they had a ceiling made out of Lightsabers:

Here is our viewpoint of the show in GIF form. Yes, that guys hand was in the way basically the entire time:

Anyone doubting how monkey-like and lengthy my arms are, I give you this photo of me and Annie as evidence that my arms are, in fact, boom mics:

Ahh, look at those half-smiles!! Keep those in mind as I tell you about the rest of the night. See, The Shins ended, and everyone was in a great mood! In fact, people were still playing music on the walk out:

Now you have to imagine something like 100,000 people leaving this park at the same time. So because I have an animal brain and am not too bright, I figured “Let’s just follow the people to where they are going!” I had hoped that by doing this, we would somehow end up by some public transportation or magical land full of taxis or at the very least bump into one giant Greek guy willing to give us a piggy back ride back to our hotel.

Instead, we saw this:

For days. For miles and miles. We walked nearly the entire length of the park:

All we wanted was to just pass a restaurant or at the very least someone selling non-drugged baked goods out of their backpack.

But no. We only saw

At this point, all the fine people we had been following had gone home to their cozy little homes, while we both hobbled along, praying that a lone cab would go by. I even called all the cab companies in San Fran, telling the dispatch we were near “Death,” but to no avail.

We knew things were in trouble when, after a mile, we saw a friendly looking girl and asked her where the nearest restaurant was. She looked around, looked at us, and said, quote, “Sorry, you’re f*cked.”

We didn’t find a restaurant, but thank God, we did see this:

A church.

It was closed.

After about another hour or two of walking in circles and me just proposing to sleep while spooning some fun-seeming homeless locals, we did happen upon a cab with just about the friendliest cab driver we had ever met.



My feet, at this point, looked like this:

We got back to our hotel around midnight, where we convinced some nice people at a Mexican restaurant to put whatever trash they were going to throw out into a quesadilla and serve it to us. Here we are waiting for our food:

By this point, I had morphed into a zaftig anime sex doll – not half bad:

Thus Concluding Day 1.

Day 2:

Freshly showered and pumiced, we headed down to the Muni for Day 2 of Outside Lands. I may or may not have been impregnated on this journey.

Once off the train we headed towards the park. But not before seeing these adorable children selling lemonade:

They had made a couple of bucks, but I suggested a new business model for next year that would have them rolling… in MONEY!

Because let’s not sugar coat the obvious… a lot of people were pretty f*cked up at Outside Lands. In fact, I conducted a very scientific research survey of who exactly was high during the festival. My findings:

I mean seriously… Did I actually see these people? Or did my camera drop acid?

Side Note: I also met the love of my life.

It was a BEAUTIFUL DAY in San Francisco, so we took advantage of it by heading down to one of the smaller stages to catch American Folk Band Vetiver:

If you’re ever in the mood to feel like a million bucks, surely their album will do it for you.

Then it was back to the main stage to catch the primary sounds of OK Go:

And look at me! I caught up with OK Go’s lead singer Damien Kulash after their set. You will notice our backdrop includes “leaning against a Club Car.” Damian is a showman and got into detail about OK Go’s brilliant videos, including an upcoming collaboration with THE MUPPETS:

Meanwhile, the always fantastic Sia took to the Twin Peaks stage,

If you’ve never reenacted the Six Feet Under finale to Sia “Breathe Me” live, you have not lived (and then died, like, 15 times). She also sang probably my favorite Sia song “Soon We’ll Be Found”:

Soon after, The Black Keys were to perform. If you’re wondering as to the scope of the main stage of Outside Lands, I bring you this panoramic photo to give you some idea…

The Black Keys were amazing, as they were at Coachella, and even managed to set up the stage like the Native American Bat Mitzvah theme I had always imagined for myself:

And I really hope lead singer Dan Auerbach checked his monster-sized dream catcher after the show, because if he listened very hard to the wind that night, it would have whispered to him “Call meeee…..” (Ed. Note: It was actually me whispering it to him from behind his headboard.)

Here they are singing “Tighten Up,” brought to you by the director of Cloverfield:

Closing out the day, the reason I came to San Fran… MUSE. Here is a pic of me and Annie BEFORE MUSE:

As you can see, Annie didn’t quite “get” my enthusiasm. Or should I say… ENMUSEIASM. No, I shouldn’t, because it’s genuinely the dumbest. One might even say I should CURB IT. MY ENMUSEIASM.

Being a giant person, I tried to get as close to the stage without guaranteeing my skull get cracked by an angry beer can hurled my way. So we made ourselves comfortable, ohhh, somewhere kind of far from the stage. Luckily, we were right close to some really HAPPY BALLOONS:

There I am in the “Pursuit of Happyness.” Again, note the length of my arms.

AND THEN THERE THEY WERE. MUSE. MATT BELLAMY. KATE HUDSON’S BABY DADDY. I’LL FORGIVE HIM FOR THAT BUT ONLY ONCE.

The Happy Face Balloons Were Like “Yayyy!”

Here I am being artsy with my new camera after the sun went down.

And always the brave one, Matt Bellamy even threw out some gang symbols just to show he was “local.”

Being Muse, they of course had some big budget tricks up their sleeves, including… smoke machines:

And about 3 dozen GIANT INFLATABLE EYEBALLS

These eyeballs made for some fabulous crowd volleyball moments…

Here they are singing “Starlight” alongside 100,000 fans:

As always, Muse brought the house down. And then it was over. And then. 5 million people all left at once:

Having learned our lesson from the night before, we managed to exit in a much timelier less “getting losty” manner. My feet now actual bone nubs, I suggest that we just ride the tram all the way around the track in order to secure seats for ourselves. I feel that, based on this decision alone, I am due for a MacArthur Genius Grant any day now.

DAY 3

Day 3 was insane. Mainly because of this:

Gallagher Performed

“Also this band called Arcade Fire YOU WOULDN’T KNOW THEM” — Hipster entombed in ice for the past three years.

For me, it was the moonfaces that made this “terrifying.”

Also House Music Guru Deadmau5, who really made anyone on MDMH feel they got their money’s worth:

Here he is in his signature Mau5head doing a dance move that none of you can probably do:

Now… I can’t lie to you guys. Something terrible happened on Day 3. I couldn’t walk. No, really. I physically could barely walk. 2 straight days on my broken foot had turned me a crip — not the cool gang kind, the uncool “can’t walk” kind. It was here I had to make a decision: Crawl my way into the park and sleep there for the next week or so, or drive myself in a car to a local restaurant and sit there for the entire day off my foot.

Don’t Be Mad You Guys:

I HAD TO I WAS INCAPABLE OF MOVING. BRIGHT SIDE: I met this guy:

I also managed to snap this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge with my camera’s snazzy “Schindler’s List” feature:

OVERALL: If you have a chance to make it to Outside Lands next year, I would suggest doing so. The weather is much more pleasant than that of Coachella’s desert death heat, and the stakes are a lot lower. i.e. You don’t have to show up in a macramed thong to fit in. (Though it wouldn’t hurt.) Plus, the festival offers lots of delicious food and wine and illegal baked items to certainly carry you throughout the weekend. And you get to take impressive pictures like this to show everyone how artsy you are:

SIDE NOTE: I had planned on seeing Deadmau5 that Sunday, but being the gal I am, will instead go see him when I’m in Las Vegas for Labor Day. And I’ll be going by myself, as my parents (I’m very cool) will be at a different show I refused to go to. So if you’ll be there, come say hi to the girl with bangs in the back in a makeshift wheelchair.