There once was a time when a rock festival in the Bay Area meant good tunes and a groovy crowd under a massive cloud of pot smoke. But that’s your grandma’s music festival. This weekend, at the three-day Outside Lands Music Festival, 70 bands, including Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The Decemberists, OK Go, The Shins and Erykah Badu, will be performing. But rather than joints being passed around the crowd, expect other earthly delights such as gourmet tater tots, fried calamari with charred jalapeño aioli, and cucumber melon spritzers. And don’t be surprised if that blitzed-out dude slumped by a tree holding a stemless Govino glass is merely under the influence of Hobo Folk Machine Pinot Noir.
That’s because Outside Lands is the festival on the vanguard of the foodie movement. “We’ve got your tattered, dreadlocked crew slinging back wine along with the dot-com weekend warriors,” says Outside Lands Wine Director, Peter Eastlake. “We’ve really locked into something here.”
Spread out in the expansive Golden Gate Park, with five stages fronting an awesome lineup, there will be 30 wineries and more than 50 eateries servicing the rock faithful. The organizers put a premium on keeping prices reasonable while emphasizing the local diversity: There will be everything from American Grilled Cheese Kitchen serving up gooey sandwiches to Korean tacos from Namu and Azalina’s Malaysian Chicken Rendang — a bit more elevated than the average rock fest’s cardboard pizza slice.
With an expected 60,000 attendees each day, there’s going to be an equally impressive amount of food to feed the discerning masses: The restaurant Maverick will have 1,600 lbs. of pork shoulder and a hundred gallons of Cincinnati BBQ Sauce for their pulled pork sandwiches; Woodhouse Fish & Co will have 20,000 oysters at the ready; Those Fabulous Frickle Brothers, who come in a mobile food trailer, will bring 400 lbs. of Kosher Dill deep fried pickle chips; the Castro’s Criolla Kitchen will have 7,000 Po’Boys on site; and dessert shop Loving Cup plans to serve 6,000 fro-yo cookie sandwiches (we’ll be taking ours in Chewy Chocolate Sea Salt!).
The festival, now in its fourth year, was cooked up by Superfly Productions, the same guys who run Bonnaroo in Tennessee, which is in its 10th year (and which even spawned a Ben & Jerry’s flavor) and Another Planet Entertainment. Superfly decided that the Bay Area was ripe for a big rock festival, and they wanted to create an experience that reflected the culture. With Napa Valley (and Sonoma) so close, and a strong restaurant scene in full effect, it only made sense to bring it all together.
Plus, it’s what the Superfly guys like to do. “When I go out, I like to go out to a nice dinner and then see a good show,” says Superfly principal Kerry Black. “Why not bring them together?”
Some might question the marriage of gourmet eating and drinking with hipster rock, but Black simply says, “the times have changed.” He should know, having hung out with members of My Morning Jacket, with whom he knocked down wine and oysters, at last year’s fest. Many other bands’ members have been seen chowing down, so be prepared to be standing next to a rock god on line for samosas.
This being the Left Coast, what off-the-wall delights await those who will be going this year? Rumor has it that soul patch-sportin’ wine star Paul Grieco is ready to roll up to Golden Gate Park with his Summer of Riesling tour in a Winnebago, from which he’d sell bottles of the aromatic grape.
If that sounds far-fetched, here’s a real festival sneak peek: in the Wine Lands tent, there will be a 1920’s elementary school sink tricked out to pour wine out of the taps. Now, that’s Northern California rock festival, 21st century-style.
Although regular one-day passes are sold out, you can still score VIP tickets or three-day passes if you’re in the Bay Area or headed there.
Food Republic will be reporting from the festival, so make sure to let us know what you’re most excited to see, eat, drink or rock out to this year in the comments.