Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Outside Lands 2023

Alive Coverage for Outside Lands

Imagine one giant picnic in the park with some of the best music in the entire world. That’s essentially Outside Lands.

Every August (except in October one year because of the pandemic) San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is transformed for three days of stellar music, food, various libations, art, and more. 

Celebrating 15 years, the 2023 lineup of artists and experiences did not disappoint and the energy was as wholesome as ever!

Here are EDM Maniac’s thoughts on the weekend’s festivities:

Alive Coverage for Outside Lands=

Vibes: A

It’s San Francisco, so there are only positive vibes! The whole festival gives off a “Woodstock” feel, from the sense of community, respect for nature, to attendees wandering the festival barefoot and in flower crowns. 

The energy was all love and rainbows over the weekend, with the only chill in the air being “Karl the Fog” hovering overhead.

Since it is an all-ages event, there were many teenagers excited for their first festival among Outside Lands veterans enjoying their favorite fest from the comfort of a picnic blanket alongside families and friends dancing together near the stages.

There’s something so special about seeing such a diverse community come together to celebrate everything they know and love about their city.

Production: B-

The sold-out crowds did result in dense gatherings at many stages, so to avoid being shoulder to shoulder required maintaining some distance from the stage for any sort of dancing space. 

While this at times made viewing the stage challenging, the sound quality made up for it.

There was little to no sound bleed between stages and although production was minimal, it felt balanced across the natural background of Golden Gate Park. 

No over the top pyrotechnics, but the lasers did come out for the evening finales such as Fisher and ODESZA, among others.

Everything from the activations to stage designs were well curated, the main disappointment over the weekend was SOMA closing because the floor collapsed. 

The remainder of SOMA’s Friday acts were canceled and the tent reopened briefly on Saturday, only to close again after a couple hours. By day three of the festival, the DJ programming was moved outside to create an open-air dance party.

The multitude of activations, as well as new additions such as the Dolores’ stage, helped to split up the crowds a bit, offering some breathing room. 

This strategic expansion not only diversified the festival experience but also contributed to a more balanced and enjoyable environment for attendees to explore while moving from set to set. 

Alive Coverage for Outside Lands

Music: B

A multi-genre festival, the lineup featured a wide spectrum of artists, giving attendees many options to explore their individual tastes.

It was obvious though that this year’s lineup was heavier on the electronic side, with dance music featured across every stage.

Day one, Westend had the Toyota Music Den popping, and other exciting performances included those from Kendrick Lamar, Diesel (Shaquille O’Neal), Becky Hill, and others.

Day two had us literally running from stage to stage to catch as many of the stacked list of artists as possible. 

A few of our favorites included Nora En Pure, L’Impératrice, Conan Gray, Fisher, and the queen of them all, Lana Del Rey.

Day three saw stellar performances across all the stages, kicking off with ISOxo bringing the crowds to the Lands End stage. Megan Thee Stallion and Noah Kahan were also names that had many excited. 

Then there was the tough decision on whether to end the weekend with ODESZA or The 1975. We of course chose ODESZA and have no regrets. It was a memorable finale to the weekend, fireworks and all!

Venue: A

With Golden Gate Park as its backdrop, Outside Lands does well to represent all the wonderful parts and people of the Bay Area. 

It does this through its many individually curated areas, such as Wine Lands, Beer Lands, Grass Lands, Cocktail Magic, and even Sober Lands. Foodies, music lovers, wine, and cannabis connoisseurs all had a space to indulge. 

The venue is spread out so walking from stage to stage can be time consuming, but the perk here is there are many activations set up along the way that add an element of fun to the walk. 

We had the chance to rehydrate at LiquidIV, take a breather in the comfort of the Chase Sapphire Lounge and re-up on some caffeine at the Monster activation.

There were so many areas to explore across the park, signage was well-placed, and the staff were always friendly and helpful. 

Although the crowd was occasionally uncomfortably packed, it was easy to get out if it got too overwhelming.

Getting to and from the venue was easy with public transportation being the most efficient option. Ubers and Lyfts were not ideal, with long wait times and price surges.

Sarah Felker for Outside Lands

Overall: B

All in all, the Outside Lands experience was positive! We met many wonderful people, enjoyed a lot of good food, had the opportunity to see some of our favorite artists and even discovered some new favorites. 

The overall festival is a wholesome, family-friendly event, and although the price tag can seem high, the abundance of offerings packed into the three days can be well worth the investment.

Featured image by Alive Coverage for Outside Lands

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