The people-watching alone is worth the price of admission at San Francisco's Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park, but luckily, there's more on tap at this annual soiree than ubiquitous flower crowns and bombastic hipster getups.
Amid the insufferably huge crowds, loud radio rock and overpriced food, there were plenty of features at this year's Outside Lands that made the experience worthwhile.
Here are 10 of the best from the Aug. 8 to 10 festival:
1. Big Freedia's Booty 'n' Beignets
Outside Lands introduced the GastroMagic stage this year, pairing music and food together in interesting combinations: butchery and breakdancing, skateboarding and Skittles, and chefs reading their own bad reviews on stage.
But by far, the greatest combination came with New Orleans' booty-shaking Queen diva Big Freedia performing and tossing out beignets to the crowd. A nonstop dance party of audience members paraded across the stage amidst constant twerking and hyperactive Bounce music.
At one point, Big Freedia grabbed a powdered sugar shaker from the chefs to shower his own derriere mid-twerk, punctuating the uproarious fun of the wild performance.
2. Tom Petty's Garcia Tribute
Opening with “So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star” and breezing through a mix of new material and several hits (“Freefallin',” “Last Dance With Mary Jane”), Tom Petty seemed poised to turn in a trademark festival set.
That all changed when he noted that the date, August 9, was the day that Jerry Garcia died — 19 years ago. Dedicating it to Garcia, he and the Heartbreakers launched into a cover of the Grateful Dead's “Friend of the Devil.” It was a classic Golden Gate Park moment.
3. Haim's Stanky Bass Face
Haim is a band of three sisters from the San Fernando Valley who've more or less been playing the same exact set every night for the past year in support of their debut album Days Are Gone.
That's not to diminish their music — an infectious mix of 1970s rock and Fleetwood Mac-style melodies — nor is it any reason to miss their live shows. On stage, the trio is incessantly funny with between-song banter, and bassist Este Haim is so reknown for her “bass face” that numerous Tumblr and Twitter accounts have popped up just to post photos of her ridiculously contorted mug.
4. Ricky Watts' Art Everywhere
Okay, so it wasn't everywhere. But numerous works by the Petaluma artist, who recently completed a large-scale mural on the South wall of the Phoenix Theater, could be seen along the festival fences, in the middle of the Polo Field and throughout the entire VIP tent.
Working on a 28'-by-8' spray-paint mural with friend Sean Griffin, Watts said he enjoys the live painting experience due to the interaction with onlookers and the questions he fields.
“There are always a few who are just blown away by what we're creating with just spray paint,” he said.
5. Christopher Owens' Majestic Calm
As the leader of the San Francisco band Girls, Christopher Owens shot to mini-stardom for his catchy, Elvis Costello-like songwriting and, shall we say, intriguing pushing of the envelope regarding music videos.
He's since gone solo, and whatever intangible mixture he's used to infuse his new material is working. By far the calmest, most subdued performer seen all weekend, he also used his band — including an organist and two gospel backup singers — to reach ethereal heights.