This weekend San Francisco held one of its largest outside concerts, Outside Lands, which featured 60 acts on six stages in Golden Gate Park’s Polo Fields. More than 60,000 attended over the three days. Headliners such as Beck, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Primus, Steel Pulse and Bela Fleck, as well as many local bands, took the stages from Friday evening to Sunday night.
The reports of problems at the concert were fairly mild. People jumped over barricades to avoid bottlenecks in the crowd, but no violence marred the event. Most who attended were calling the weekend a total success.
If a festival like Outside Lands was held in San Jose, what would it look like? Could we have 60.000 fans together with no problems? Or would we have the same problems that mar our downtown on weekend nights? Could our police handle such an event?
Sadly, I feel that we are far away from having this type of festival. But then again, no one has ever had the foresight to organize a musical concert of this magnitude, so how would we really know?
Another factor is that this event had high ticket prices— much different from the free concerts that we see in San Jose in the summer. Prices for tickets to Outside Lands ranged from $60 for one concert to $695 VIP packages for the 3 days. (Do you actually get to go backstage for that price?) With those prices, would this event work in San Jose? Are ticket prices a major determining factor for the behavior at such events?
I am not trying to say that people who have money are any better behaved than anyone else. It’s just that when you spend that kind of money you have more of a vested interest in coming for the music, not just to drink or cause trouble.
Outside Lands is just one more event that makes us San Francisco’s stepbrother to the south. How can we change that?