Outside Lands vs. Lollapalooza in a fight to the death! Soundtrack by Erasure.

I’m still decompressing from the past few weeks. I’ve had two weddings (one of which I had to be in) and a cross country trip to San Francisco that included some non-stop record shopping and a three day outdoor festival! All on damaged ribs!

Damn, I’m fucking metal.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I usually go to Lollapalooza this time of year, but that was impossible, so I made the trip to Outside Lands instead. This was not a decision I made lightly. For all of its problems (and there are many) I love going to Lollapalooza. I think that it is one of the most well-organized, affordable and fan-friendly festivals today. My only other modern festival experience has been Ultra, and that was a clusterfuck of greed, drugs and douchbaggery the likes of which I have never seen. It made me miss Lollapalooza even more.

Outside Lands was at least a positive experience, but was it really better than Lollapalooza? Let’s compare.

The Line-Up
Both Lollapalooza and Outside Lands featured many of the same bands: Big Audio Dynamite, Muse, Deadmau5, Arctic Monkeys, Beirut, Ok Go and The Vaccines to name a few. But while Lollapalooza also had Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Cold War Kids, A Perfect Circle, The Cars, Deftones and Crystal Castles, Outside Lands’ exclusive acts included bands like Phish, The Decemberists, Josh Ritter and Best Coast. Definitely much more of a chill/jam vibe that is very much NOT my thing. This led to some pretty big breaks in my schedule where I was at best not doing much and at worst actively avoiding all the stages.
Advantage: Lollapalooza

Stage Layout
Lollapalooza has seven stages (plus a kids’ stage) that are all pretty easy to see no matter what. Outside Lands is a smaller festival, with only four stages. One of them is so small it’s barely worth mentioning, and the main stage is just a clusterfuck of problems. The sound tent for it is massive, blocking the view of the stage for nearly everyone who isn’t in front of it. Furthermore, the dance dome is too close to the stage,  so unless you are close enough to the stage for the music to be loud enough, you’re going to get a constant bass thump mashed up with the music on the main stage. While I do give Outside Lands credit for not putting any of its stages on fucking cement like Lolla does, it’s much easier to actually see a band at Lollapalooza than it is Outside Lands
Advantage: Lollapalooza

If you have to piss at Lollapalooza, no problem, there are almost never lines for all of the porta-potties, you just have to know where to look. This is not so at Outside Lands. There were never enough pissers to go around, so the lines got pretty massive. The lines were so intense, in fact, that I saw dudes and women just pissing in the woods. Classy! Making matters worse was that that porta-potty company would routinely plow their truck through the porta-potty area to empty over-used facilities. Their devotion to cleanliness should be applauded, but the cloud of dust and overall disruption the would cause every time they did this did no one any favors. This one is no contest
Advantage: Lollapalooza

Outside Lands has better, more diverse food, no contest. The problem is getting to it. Just like the porta-potties, the lines to the food vendors are fucking nuts at Outside Lands. I never have to wait more than five minutes for pizza at Lollaplooza,but  a typical wait for anything aside from tofu tacos was nearly double that at Outside Lands. Still, the food is really good when you can get your hands on it, so this one is even.
Advantage: Push

Price of refilling a bottle of water at Outside Lands 2011: $1
Price of refilling a bottle of water at Lollapalooza: Free
Also, finding a fucking refilling station at Outside Lands was practically impossible. Finding a beer tent, on the other hand, was incredibly easy. Funny that.
Advantage: Lollapalooza

It’s fucking HOT in Chicago in the summer. Seriously, like triple digit hot. And when it’s not fucking hot it’s fucking storming. It sucks. San Francisco on the other hand, cool and breezy, with highs in the low 70s all weekend. Can’t beat that shit.
Advantage: Outside Lands

Golden Gate Park
Holy shit this place is beautiful. Grant Park in Chicago is basically a series of baseball diamonds. GGP is actually a park, complete with scenic trails that remain open during the concert. Sure, I had a lot of downtime at the festival, but at least I could walk down to a secluded forest path and just chill. At Lollapalooza there is no such thing as a quiet spot.
Advantage: Outside Lands

People at Lollapalooza are dicks. They push, shove and fight their way to the front of the stage, then proceed to talk and text while the music is playing. The crowd at Outside Lands was decidedly more chill and friendly. I rarely had problems with people talking over the music, and I only had one encounter with a dick shoving his way to the front of the stage. Sure, when you got further back there was more talking and more shoving, but you’re going to have that at any fest. Maybe it was that mellow California attitude I always hear about, or maybe it was all the weed…actually I’m willing to bet it was all the weed, but whatever the reason, the kindness of the crowd really made this fest one to remember for me.
Advantage: Outside Lands

The final count may be four for Lolla and three for Outside Lands, but I’m still going to call it a push, because a friendly vibe and weather that doesn’t make my balls sweat off are two factors that really go a long way.

At the end of the day, Outside Lands is a quality festival with a few problems. I saw less bands than I would have seen at Lolla, that’s for sure, but I had a lot more fun seeing those bands than I would have if I saw them at Lolla. It’s hard to say which is better. So if you’re looking for a quality festival, I’d have to say that you really can’t go wrong with either Outside Lands or Lollapalooza. Both do a pretty good job at what they’re trying to do. And while the organizers of Lollapalooza really can’t do much to solve the problems of Grant Park and Chicago heat, the problems that Outside Lands face are actually fixable, giving me hope that the festival will only get better next year.

Just don’t go the Ultra, seriously, fuck those guys. The crowd there booed Erasure. Fucking dicks.

Always (Cappella Club Remix)
Always [Microbots Trance Dance Mix]
Always (Microbots Inside Your Brain Mix)
Always (Hey Mix)
Breathe (LMC Extended Club Mix)
Breathe (When Andy Bell Met Manhattan Clique Extended Remix)
Breathe [Acoustic]
Freedom (Motiv 8 Radio Mix)
Freedom (JC’s Freedom Of Flight Remix)
Freedom (Mark’s Guitar Vocal)
Freedom (Mark’s Jail Term Dub)
Now, I know this may come as a shock, but it turns out that San Francisco is a great place to find Erasure singles! It’s also a great place to find Madonna and Pet Shop Boys stuff, so look for them in the coming weeks as well.

As much as I love electronic music, I’d have to say that the best track of this bunch is the acoustic version of “Breathe.” Sometimes a song needs to be stripped of its production for the lyrics to really sink in, and the heartache and pain of “Breathe” really get to you when the song is taken down to nothing more than Andy Bell’s amazing voice and the soft strums of an acoustic guitar. It’s really beautiful.

That being said, the house-as-fuck seven-minute Cappella Club Remix of “Always” is pretty sweet too. All of these are from CD singles, save for the last track, which is from a 12″.

5 Responses to “Outside Lands vs. Lollapalooza in a fight to the death! Soundtrack by Erasure.”

  1. chris says:

    Big thanks, mate! Great selection!

  2. Brad says:

    nice post!! just in time for the US Erasure tour as well! 🙂

  3. Nick Arndt says:

    lollapalooza had Best Coast as well.They played the Google stage on Sunday

  4. Lost Turntable says:

    Ah, my bad.

  5. swiss adam says:

    Great blog you have here Sir, love the BAD posts. I missed them when they played Manchester this year, which I was gutted about. Hope they keep touring.

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