You might say music lovers with a taste for fine food know San Francisco's annual summertime Outside Lands festival inside-out.
... and so does our John Blackstone:
Like other summer music festivals, there's plenty of music at Outside Lands in San Francisco. Headliners last year were The Who and Metallica. But for a decade now, Outside Lands has been about more than music. It also features food from celebrity chefs, fine wine and craft beer.
Other summer festivals have taken notice. As they line up bands for this year, festival promoters across the country are raising the bar on food and drink – often inspired by the success of Outside Lands.
"This is a few levels north of beer and hot dogs, trust me," said Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. He comes to Outside Lands every year whether he's playing or not.
"So, we come and-- we check out the bands and we have a little glass of wine, a little cheese, a little food. I mean, this is a very sort of northern California eccentric festival!"
It all happens in the meadows and forests of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Greg Perloff, one of the creators of Outside Lands, remembers Golden Gate Park – a stone's throw from the Haight-Ashbury – as the epicenter of the "Summer of Love," 1967.
Blackstone said, "It wouldn't be the same anywhere else,"
"No, absolutely," said Perloff. "Golden Gate Park, as you know, in the '60s, was known for putting on concerts."
Where hippies once picnicked, Outside Lands now offers "The Feast in the Trees" – prepared by renowned chefs, like Los Angeles restaurant owner Roy Choi.
Blackstone asked, "So, in the food business, it's known, Outside Lands?"
"Yeah. Outside Lands is, like, a pioneer, you know what I mean?" said Choi. "So I think that's what makes it unique."
Blackstone asked Perloff, "So, do you have to put on a three-course meal by a celebrity chef now? Is that the standard that you've set at Outside Lands?"
"Boy, I hope not!" Perloff laughed. "We try and amaze people and give them something new every year."
The beer at Outside Lands comes from 30 different craft brewers. For wineries, securing a booth here is a coveted honor.
Peter Eastlake, the "curator of wine" for Outside Lands (what other music festival has that?), says the difficulty in recruiting wineries to come to the festival is "managing the disappointment, because most wineries want to come and be a part of Outside Lands."
Food and music share the stage at Outside Lands' "Gastromagic," where rapper Big Freedia invites the uninhibited to bounce for beignets.
There are beignets as well where Evan Rich, of the Michelin-awarded restaurant Rich Table, serves them as only a Michelin-awarded restaurant would.
"It's, like, a beignet batter that we toss with dried porcini powder and serve with a raclette cheese sauce," Rich said. "It's the fanciest thing at the festival, you know?" he laughed.
In all, 81 restaurants provide a selection of some of the best food the San Francisco region has to offer, from gourmet burgers served at Marlowe, to the fresh morning buns at Tartine, a now internationally-recognized bakery.
Even the festival's producers and co-founders Rick Farman and Allen Scott sometimes have to choose between eating … and listening.
"I see music in-between eating meals here!" Farman laughed.
Scott said, "My advice is definitely when you go with friends and you split food items so you can try everything."
For all its influence on other summer festivals, there's one thing about Outside Lands the other festivals can't copy – don't want to copy: the weather. San Francisco's summers are famously foggy and cool.
Rick Farman laughed, "I always tell people we have free air conditioning here! I mean, so many of the other summer festivals, it's really hot!"
But the weather was no surprise for Metallica's Lars Ulrich. The San Francisco area is Metallica's home.
Ulrich said the weather at Outside Lands is part of its charm: "You know, when the lights come on in a few hours and the beams are going up through the mist, I mean, it's real, real atmospheric and super cool. And I'll tell you, we've played every single festival on this beautiful planet, and this is one of the absolute top five, I would say."
For more info:
- Outside Lands Festival, August 10-12, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco | Passes on sale
- Follow @SFOutsidelands on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
- Follow @LarsUlrich on Twitter
- Follow Roy Choi (@RidingShotgunLA) on Twitter
Story produced by John Goodwin.