Outside Lands: Not the Hippiefest You Think It Is

San Francisco music festival kicks off Friday

The stages are set. All five of them. The 150-year Belgian tent is getting a sound system. In the next meadow, workers hammer away at the skeleton of a wine haven, where guests will swill local wines and shuck thousands of oysters. This is no hippie fest.

This is year two of the great experiment called the Outside Lands festival.

Last year some 80,000 people filled Golden Gate Park's Polo Field, to hear Radiohead, Jack Johnson and Les Claypool. This year, big names include Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews and Tenacious D (subbing for the Beastie Boys).
This week, promoter Gregg Perloff walked the main lawn and surveyed the flurry of work going on all around him. He was happy to talk music, but even  more excited to rattle off the festival's green elements.

"We have a whole composting program, we have a recycling program, he said. "Last year we had a diversion rate of over 65 percent... we're aiming for 70 percent."

Sunlight will power the Panhandle Solar Stage. Generators will run on bio-diesel. Promotors have promised the City they will leave the park in better condition than they found it.

"Last year, we refused to leave until every cigarette butt was cleaned up," Perloff said,"And every piece of wire."

Perloff says the festival has also taken pains to appease neighbors upset about parking and trash.

The festival will station tow trucks in nearby neighborhoods to curb any creative parking.

Historians say Golden Gate Park has moonlighted as a music venue since its birth in the 1800s, though it hasn't seen this kind of action since the Summer of Love. But it's not just the sense of nostalgia that has city officials licking their chops.

"Financially it's going to contribute over a million dollars to our department this year," said San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Director Phil Ginsburg. "Which in a time of really municipal budget cycles, it's incredibly important."

One of the festival's coolest new venues is a 150-year wooden hall Perloff imported from Belgium. Perloff calls it the Barbary Stage. Inside, an aged wood floor is surrounded by wooden benches and mirrors. Local performance troops like Vau de Vire Society and Yard Dogs Road show will perform cabaret, burlesque and comedy.

"What we decided to do since there's such a great performance art scene in the Bay Area, we decided to make this a summit of all these different groups that are out there" said Rick Farman of Superfly Productions.

But perhaps the most anti-rock venue is the Wine Haven. Twenty-five local wineries will serve 75 wines from the wine country. Hog Island Oysters will shuck thousands of oysters. Last year, some 12,000 oysters died for the cause.

The music kicks off at 1 p.m. on Friday and runs through Sunday night. The three-day pass runs $225 and a single day pass is $89. Perloff says like most things these days, the economy has hurt things a bit.
Still, he expects a 100,000 people will turn out to shake their butts, sip local cabs, shuck oysters and get their green on.

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