By Ian S. Port
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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.