From mobile festival apps to cashless wristbands to organic gastro-trucks, a successful music festivals experience is hardly just about music anymore. Endemic of many recent events Outside Lands 2016, in Golden Gate Park this weekend, Aug. 5-7, boasts a festival map one might mistake for Walt Disney World. When you look at the official guide, it's difficult to find the main stage. The fact that you can opt for valet or self parking for your bicycle, however, is readily apparent. Outside Lands Music Festival is an incredible event. Despite areas of potential unintentional distraction, it is also exceedingly well organized. With a little help (see below) you may not miss any of the important bits (see Duran Duran).
Don't Forget About the Concerts - Golden Gate Park is home to the California Academy of Sciences, elaborate botanical gardens and the Conservatory of Flowers, the de Young art and nature museum, windmills, wildlife, an aquarium, lakes, ponds, playgrounds, a golf course, beach park, carousel, fishing, Japanese Tea Garden and a Bison Paddock. And all of this is before you even reach the Outside Lands festival grounds. If you attend a music festival to see music, it means you're old. It is also entirely acceptable, as Outside Lands features rather a coveted lineup of artists. Just don't get so caught up in wine tasting, total body painting and miniature golf that you miss anyone you initially came to see.
Don't Get Hung Up on the Headliners - as tragic as it would be to go to a Radiohead concert and not see Radiohead, it is arguably worse to go somewhere as amazing and involved as Outside Lands and only see Radiohead. Click here to see complete lineup. If they are the only band in attendance that interests you, and you want to make a special point to enjoy they're set, up close, that is your prerogative. You may want to branch out a little, and Outside Lands all-inclusive festival grounds is likely going to see that you do. You can absolutely park it in front of the "Twin Peaks" stage for Zedd, Saturday, or Lana Del Rey, Sunday. If you do it as early as you will need to to keep a good spot, it will require most of your day. You will then be treated to the wonderful musical stylings of Snakehips and Fantastic Negrito. You will catch a glorious amount of live music, enough to enviably fill an Instagram account. If missing the hundred other available attractions is worth seeing Thom Yorke up close, perhaps you would be better off just going to a Radiohead concert. You paid for a lot more, and Outside Lands invites, wants you to take advantage of it.
Locate and Participate in Something Outlandish - full-body painting may not be your thing, and the suggestion here is not to force yourself beyond your comfort zone. But, Outside Lands features at least a dozen activities you have not previously considered, and maybe never heard of, and this is your opportunity to explore at least one of them. If you choose to spend your day, afternoon and night at "Ye Ol Beer Lands," except for the scarcity of San Diego brewers, there is very little room for criticism. You can hear most of the stages from there. Just know Duran Duran and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will be singing over one another on Friday evening. Your ticket to Outside Lands gives you liberty to drink tequila out of a squirt gun, learn how to make chocolate bacon with Lionel Richie performing in the background, explore something called "Outside Clams," get Eco educated and watch comedian Kyle Kinane eat. A day spent in the Heineken House is a day well spent, but, truly, you can pretty much replicate that at your own home.
Bike, Bus, Walk or Streetcar to the Venue - have you ever driven in San Francisco? More to the point, have you ever tried to park in San Francisco? Golden Gate Park itself is not right in the heart of the city, but that doesn't free up a wealth of additional parking spots. On a workaday weekday, parking out here is at a premium. On a festival weekend, you will ruin your entire day and experience looking for a space. Public transportation options are manifold in San Francisco. Look into them. Biking is an inviting option, if only given the availability of valet bicycle parking. If you are unfamiliar with the streets of the City by the Bay, they can be tricky for bikers. Unless you have and can cycle here confidently, just jump on a bus. Eliminate the hassle, and hazard of getting there, and get busy enjoying yourself.