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Outside Lands Festival Adds Marquee Names to Its Lineup: Wilco, Manu Chao, and Beck, and many more 

Wednesday, Mar 26 2008
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When the Treasure Island Music Festival was announced last summer, it felt as though San Francisco proper had a destination music event for the indie set. But this year, Another Planet Entertainment — which copromoted the two-day Treasure Island event — is going one bigger with that whole destination idea. It's coproducing what Another Planet's Allen Scott says should be the largest ticketed music event in San Francisco's history — the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

Outside Lands will be San Francisco's version of Coachella — minus the heatstroke, the big band reunions, and that Scarlett Johansson cameo. Like Coachella, Outside Lands will operate over multiple days and stages in the great outdoors — only this marathon is aimed at a broad stylistic span alongside the indie faves.

From August 22 through 24, Outside Lands will take over the western end of Golden Gate Park to host five-plus stages of talent. Radiohead, Tom Petty, and Jack Johnson have leaked out to the public already as headliners, but this week brought the announcement of another round of artists, ranging from Beck, Black Mountain, Wilco, Bon Iver, and Drive-By Truckers to Devendra Banhart, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Cafe Tacvba, Steel Pulse, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Manu Chao. It adds up to 60 acts over three days (the full lineup can be found at www.sfoutsidelands.com). A fair amount of stage time will go to locals, with Primus, Lyrics Born, Two Gallants, the Coup, and Goapele among those already booked, with smaller acts planned for side stages. Simultaneous performances will populate the Polo Fields, Speedway Meadow, Lindley Meadow, and other interlinked outposts within the fenced-in fest. At 8 p.m. daily, everyone will funnel to the Polo Fields for the night's big headliner — what Scott tags the weekend's "unifying experience."

Outside Lands — coproduced with Superfly Productions and Starr Hill Presents, the heavies behind Bonnaroo — is a concert three years in the making, during which time it seems every major metropolitan area has started hosting a weekend music bash. But the aim for Outside Lands is to set apart the Bay Area's take on what Scott estimates to be a 50,000-person gig by angling it from a local perspective. Hometown restaurants and artists will have booths, and there will be a whole "new media" section for all those Silicon Valley types. And the multigenre lineup, ranging from rock to soul, hip-hop, and reggae, is another nod to our stamping grounds. "We're trying to reflect the Bay Area's music tastes," Scott says. "We'll have a pretty good Latin and world music element to the festival — that type of music has always been important to the Bay Area." He adds this musical diversity keeps Outside Lands from stepping on two of the year's other big music events, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (October 3-5) and Treasure Island, which returns Sept. 20 and 21.

For those ready to slap down the plastic for tickets (which go on sale March 30 at 10 a.m.), here's the one downer: A show like this ain't cheap. Tickets come only in three-day packs, and cost $225.50 a pop. The price is less expensive than Coachella's $269, but Coachella also offers single-day tickets at a third of that cost. Asked if Outside Lands would consider the fans who, say, want their Radioheads separate from their Jack Johnsons, Allen says single day passes may be released, but only depending on availability.

In the end, though, it's still exciting that San Francisco is adding a music event on this gigantic scale to our summer roster. We have in Outside Lands our mini-Bonnaroo: Just trade the price of airfare for a couple of Muni tickets.

About The Author

Jennifer Maerz

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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

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