Today was a long day in the literal sense. Waking up at 5am in Charlotte equated to a 2am start in California where I’d end up later. Although I’ve been to San Francisco on a couple of previous occasions there’s still an abundance of good stuff still to see there. This weekend the Outside Lands music festival is taking place. It’s one of those city festivals so there’s no camping available. Outside Lands is set in Golden Gate Park, about three miles from where I’m staying, so I decided to walk there. Walking around the neighbourhood streets is pleasant enough in San Francisco with the nice wooden houses and picturesque hilly roads. When I got to the park though there wasn’t much sign of a music festival taking place. That’s because Golden Gate Park is about four miles long and the festival was essentially at the other end of the park. It took almost another hour before I was inside!
Just behind the entrance to the festival were a wine tent and a cheese tent, certainly a first for any music festival that I’ve attended. These were the first signs that perhaps the festival was a little pretentious and should have been a clear hint at the ensuing bar prices. I realise that I may moan about what some things cost but the beer prices here are nothing short of scandalous. The main beer for sale at the festival is Heineken, preposterously still considered to be a premium beer in the US, despite being a bit of a joke in Europe. A pint of Heineken here costs $10. And that’s an American pint of 473ml. Using the calculator this makes a proper imperial pint (568ml) equivalent to $12, or £9.30 using the current post-Brexit exchange rate. Obviously I didn’t intend on getting plastered on my own but it would have been nice to have had a couple of beers. However I’ve decided that the day beer costs £9.30 a pint is the day I stop drinking and I stuck to that mantra for the rest of the weekend. That didn’t seem to deter many of the attendees who must be loaded from their Silicon Valley jobs, with plenty of people carrying around two beers at a time. I’m not advocating such behaviour but when the alcohol prices are so high it may encourage people who have recently been to the Costa Rica and have some duty-free rum that could be decanted down into smaller containers and sneaked into the concert in their undies so that they could purchase a $4 soft drink and have some rum and cokes. This is just a hypothesis by the way and I’d like to stress that I did not do this!
By the time I actually arrived at the festival, Duran Duran had almost finished and after that it was only the headliners left, LCD Soundsystem. The 9.50pm finishing time seemed a little early. I understand that it’s not far from a built up area but even the Hooray Henry’s who live around Hyde Park in London let the music go on until 10.30pm. Tonight was one of those relatively cool San Francisco summer evenings. Some people are even wearing hats and scarves but it’s not that cold! With some of the extreme heat I’ve recently experienced I don’t think I’ll ever complain about being too cool unless I start to turn blue. LCD Soundsystem heading major festivals is a bit of a funny one. Back in the day they were never any bigger than a club or possibly a theatre band. About five years ago I saw them at Glastonbury, maybe about third fro the top of the bill of the second stage, and even then you could walk up right to the front after they’d started playing. Since they’ve split up and later reformed they seemed to have gained popularity, which I don’t begrudge them as I think James Murphy is close to a genius. They’ve certainly lived up to all expectations tonight, pulling off a great show.