The first-ever Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival concluded last night with Jack Johnson rounding out the weekend performances. While the festival was not without its hiccups, for the most part, the organizers did a respectable job.
Festivals of this size are judged not only on its musical lineup, but also on the smoothness of its operation. With a capacity crowd of 60,000 on-hand Friday night to see Radiohead rock the park, I became somewhat skeptical of the organizers ability to plan accordingly; audio problems, a strict curfew, and a sense of overcrowding somewhat overwhelmed the first night.
Fortunately, all of these issues seemed to subside for the remainder of the weekend. The rest of the festival went off without a hitch. Musical highlights included Radiohead, Rodrigo y Gabriela (RyG), Manu Chao, Ben Harper, and Cake. Having seen all but RyG and Cake before, I was most impressed with Rodrigo y Gabriela’s incredible musicianship and stage presence – they really rocked and are able to make 2 acoustic guitars sound like an entire rock band!
Throughout the weekend, there was plenty of space to sit, dance, stand, or do whatever at each of the artists we saw perform whether it was Ben Harper or Tom Petty on the main stage, or Cake on a smaller platform. Combined with endless port-o-johns and a large variety of food choices and beer/wine tents, all in all the first Outside Lands Festival should be considered a success.