Music festivals are great. You can see a lot of music in a day! But music festivals also spill over with people — and you know what Sartre said about other people. Because locals and music tourists alike will have to spend the weekend sharing Golden Gate Park and acting like friendly neighbors who all just happen to be really into Metallica, here are our tips for how to act like a reasonable human being amongst the crowds, the porta-potty lines and controlled substances.
Don't Forget Your Ticket
If your ticket is at will call, because your office printer is out of toner or whatever, you can actually go pick it up right this second at the Box Office on the East end of the festival grounds near Marx Meadow.
Bummed you didn't get a ticket before it sold out? Don't fret, even scalped tickets are a bargain at Outside Lands.
Muni Is A Disaster
Every Muni line running East-West within like 15 blocks north or south of Golden Gate Park will be packed with neon-clad kids on their way to see Skrillex. Plan accordingly. Muni has an official notice on the matter (Spoiler Alert: they know it will be a mess and they're running extra 5-Fultons), but residents who live near the park would do well to check out RichmondSF's comprehensive neighbor's guide.
Shuttles run from Bill Graham Auditorium in Civic Center to the festival entrance, but if you didn't buy shuttle passes yet, you're out of luck. Any cab company will take you out to the avenues if you can manage to flag one down (we're guessing near BART stops on Market Street is a good bet). Better option: ride your bike. Best option: hop on one of the free pedicabs at the entrance to the Park on Stanyan Street and laugh at all the schmucks hoofing it on the Reebok Railroad.
It Will Take Longer Than You Think To Get In
After what will seem like miles of people-herding fences, you will eventually find yourself at a bag checker/ticket scanner. This is like airport security, but the person is friendlier and the search is even more of a joke. Don't be the guy who holds everything up; just go with it and don't bring any pointy things in your bag. Speaking of things in your bag
Bring Sunscreen, Hand Sanitizer, Water Bottle
We're not your mother, we're just a blog who wants to make sure you don't show up at work on Monday all sun-baked, dehydrated and spreading some obscure disease you contracted in a portable toilet. If you've ever bought a water bottle at previous Outside Lands festivals, you can bring it along and fill it up for free all weekend. Otherwise, the water stations will fill any bottle you bring in for a buck.
Dress In Layers, Dummy
The forecast looks good on paper: High 70s on Friday and Saturday, with low 70's on Sunday. But that sick sleeveless Metallica tee with the cutoff jorts won't look so hot when the evening fog rolls in. Bring a hoodie or something. Hoodies are still cool, right? Also: don't wear flip-flops. Like, ever.
Don't Blow Your Wad Early
Some of you will be overcome with the urge to drink yourselves into oblivion before even getting to the park. Say on one of those party buses, perhaps. Or maybe on a bar crawl through the Sunset. Either way, remember it's a long day out there and you will never forgive yourself if you black out and cry through all of Sharon Van Etten's set because that lady is amazing. On that note...
Beers Are Expensive
You will purchase too many of them anyway. Some of you will probably smuggle in your whisks of flaskey, if you catch our drift. Some of you might even get inappropriately drunk. That's cool, we've all been there. But let's not to confuse inebriation with authority. Drunks do not get priority seating and drinks do not get to push to the front just because they are drunk. In fact, the criminally over-served should probably just go have a time out in a corner of the Polo Field anyway.
Do Not Lose Your Mind
Look, some people will be doing drugs in Golden Gate Park this weekend. Some of those drugs will be illegal. And some of those people will not be very experienced in the area of "taking drugs". This is a fact of life and festival-going. For anyone considering enhanced enjoyment methods, which we neither condone nor endorse, we might also suggest asking one of your square friends to make sure you don't do anything too stupid. Namely, do not make this person's mistake and start sexing up a tree. There are enough people doing that in Golden Gate Park already, probably:
Also: drink water. Always drink plenty of water.
No One Wants To Watch The Show On Your Phone
Jack White got this one partially right — you should, of course, feel free to tweet and instagram at your leisure so as to inspire jealousy in your non-festival-attending friends. But let's be honest here, trying to record an entire set so you can immediately post it to YouTube is not only annoying, but it's a waste of your precious phone battery. It will look like crap, it will sound awful, and 97 other people will post an equally shitty version of it. There are professionals on hand with professional cameras making professional videos that you would much rather watch anyway. So, put the phone down and enjoy yourself, will ya?
You Have Already Lost Your Friends
With so many smartphones in one place, coverage will be spotty and texts will arrive late. Pro-tip: When coordinating meeting spots, plan at least 20-30 minutes in advance because "I'm heading to catch [Favorite Band] at the Sutro stage in 20" is way more helpful than: "The set is almost over! Come find me up front!" when you're halfway across Golden Gate Park.
Catch Some Local Acts
The festival has always been good about putting local talent on stage, but this year a couple Bay Area acts slipped into prime mid-afternoon sets. Thee Oh Sees and Two Gallants get the most press and the best timeslots here, but Geographer, Sean Hayes, and Wallpaper are all deserving of even the most casual fly-by listens on your way between stages.
Check Out Some Comedy
There was a time when a comedy stage at a music festival seemed like an afterthought. But have you looked at the lineup in The Barbary tent? Reggie Watts, Kristen Schaal, Jon Glaser, David Cross, Neil Patrick Harris. By all means take a breather and enjoy some LAUGHS.
You'd think "Food" was headlining the Lands End stage by the way the local food blogs gush over the edible options at Outside Lands year after year. We'll leave the must-eats and the music + food pairings to the food writers, but you should know that last year there were two -- two! -- different vendors selling variations on fried macaroni and cheese. So, you can't really go wrong here.
Seriously, bring an extra stick or two for your friends. Your bus buddies on the way home will thank you.
Make an Escape Plan
Unless you ditch out on Stevie Wonder super early, trying to hop on Muni shuttles on Fulton will be a nightmare. Cabs usually hover near the shuttle lines around Fulton Street & 25th Avenue if you can snag one. Uber might also work here, too, but good luck with that.
Please Do Not Punch People
Just because someone is violating one of the above, doesn't mean you get to fight them. Drunk, dusty, tired people fighting are the worst. Let's just be friends!