Inside the Heart and Soul of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2016
By Tamara Gorman
During the Summer of Love in 1967, John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas wrote, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Personifying the beauty of all that is good, Flower Power was alive and strong at the 2016 Outside Lands Music and Art Festival.
For three days the hollowed and beautiful Golden Gate Park is transformed into a sensory odyssey of exciting music, dreamy mood lighting, provocative art, food and fashion all celebrating brotherly love while showcasing the wonderful bay area culture. It is no surprise that each summer Outside Lands is one of the most sought after tickets in the country. Returning for its ninth year, Outside Lands once again delivered on it’s unique niche of grass-roots music, good vibrations, and fabulous festival fashion.
Setting the bar high, Outside Lands’ producers called this year’s line-up, “The best line-up we have ever had.” Headliners Radiohead, Duran Duran, Lana Del Rey, LCD Soundsystem, J. Cole, Halsey and Lionel Richie all brought dazzling displays and incredible sets rich in popular tunes and expressions of gratitude for the mass of fans braving the foggy weather.
Some of the festival’s best moments were the non-headliner surprises – like witnessing 70,000 people jumping in sync to the electronic beats of Major Lazer, Sean Lennon – looking like his famous daddy in a beard and glasses – teamed with Les Claypool as the psychedelic-pop duo Delirium, the cool indie-hipster band Foals performing fabulous hits like, “Mountain at My Gates,” and the ever soulful folk-rock vocals of Brandi Carlile covering Led Zeppelin’s, “Going to California.”
While the blazing heat at Coachella and Lollapalooza lures fans into wearing fringed halter tops and crocheted bikinis, Outside Lands festival-goers know better. August is notoriously foggy in San Francisco with a bit of a wind chill making a compelling case for layers, layers, and more layers. As always the crowd honed a nice variety of looks, but some of the trends that stood out were a warmer version of festival garb like camouflage and military gear, satin bomber jackets, tie-dyed shirts, anything retro and of course denim, boots, and scarfs. Flower crowns may have been shunned at Outside Lands of yore, but in 2016 the power of the flower –edible and wearable– made a grand comeback. Gorgeous fresh flower headpieces were everywhere converting music lovers into badass Gods and Goddesses.
A parting gift from the festival was capturing a few sweet moments in the media room with alt-pop duo, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West of Oh Wonder. The talented London-based artists started writing together for fun and releasing songs on the Internet. With popular hits like, “Without You” and “Drive,” their smooth electronic, rhythm & blues sound has catapulted them into the spotlight and on stage opening for singer Halsey’s on her Badlands Tour. Adorable and fresh, Anthony in his denim and Josephine in her vintage blue/green jumpsuit, she shared her style tips, “I love vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces. In America, I like the thrift stores. You can find unique pieces that you can’t find anywhere else.” Be looking for more good things from Oh Wonder, including a new album next year.
Being able to enjoy all the great music among the trees in the majesty of Golden Gate Park is an uplifting experience in which everyone should take part. At the end of the three days, the collective heat of the music, dance and revelry in such a beautiful setting charmed countless fans – such is life in the whirlwind known as the modern music festival.