The Hidden Secrets of Music Festivals in the Bay Area

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Treasure Island Music Festival

Outside Lands

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

James Blake: Overgrown Pitchfork Review

As stated, there are secrets to music festivals in the Bay Area. But some are a little more obvious like the music festivals themselves. There’s no surprise that music festivals in the Bay Area bring tons of people into the San Francisco Bay Area yearly, but there are some ways to enjoy them in ease. There’s Outside Lands, Treasure Island Music Festival, and Hardly Strictly, but do you know some of the best spots? Do you some of the best parts of these festivals? Working for Live 105 and having the opportunity to work some of these festivals and to actually attend as well has been an eye opening experience to say the lease.

One of the most obvious observations I made about these festivals are people don’t actually know the music, or care to see what bands are playing at certain times or making an artist’s set just in time. People are there for company. They attend these festivals to hang out with their friends. It’s about the vibe. I for one do not do this. Music festivals for me are for the music. 

So for those who are there for the music, keep reading. I’ll help you realize the potential to every festival here in the Bay Area.

First off, Outside Lands. I have gone four years and I must admit this is my least favorite of all music festivals. Why? For the reason above, people are not there for the music, or let alone know who any of the bands are. Of course I am making generalizations and using universal terms, but I am guilty of bugging my friends taking them from stage to stage not wanting to miss any of the acts I want to see when all they are focusing on is making it to the headliners of the night.

Outside Lands has its hidden beauty people don’t notice. I have been to many music festivals outside the Bay Area and they do not compare for its beauty. Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop understand that to make a great music festivals, it’s important to focus on the location. There are many, many music festivals that don’t take the location into consideration like Bonnaroo and Coachella, but what makes Outside Lands so special is that it is inside Golden Gate Park, surrounded by Eucalyptus and green grass. Some of the stages have natural hills next to burrows, and oasis of trees that you can climb in, adventure about and take in the music. The best part of Outside Lands is its nature and if you don’t recognize that, then you aren’t doing it right! 🙂

My all time favorite music festival in the Bay Area and anywhere in the country is Treasure Island Music Festivals. I have attend 4 of 10 years of this festival and its beauty is just so captivating. Being on Treasure Island, you get breathtaking views of the city and the Bay Bridge. I have spent some of the best parts of my life at this music festival because you can experience some of the music unique music that is being slowly discovered and walk pass the stages and look out on the beauty of the Bay Area. Personally, I have always had a great deal of anxiety as music festivals. The amount of people who attend fills to the brim of capacity. But with Treasure Island, I can walk to the barriers of the gates and look at the sun setting under small trees on the most greenest grass I have ever seen. I have discovered some of the most amazing artists at this festival as well that I will go into more in a bit.

Lastly, another great music festival held in the summer of Golden Gate Park is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. HSBG is a free, all-ages music festival close to the location of Outside Lands. This is a great festival to be with friends, relax, have a couple of drinks in the sun and listen to some great bluegrass, folk artists. This festival will always be free since there is a trust fund feeding into the festival for years to come. The owners left a great deal of money in hopes to keep this festival free for all to experience great music.

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Of all festivals I’ve been to, I have discovered great music as stated previously. But nothing compares to the moment I was introduced to James Blake at Treasure Island Music Festival three years ago. This was a pivotal moment in my young-adult life where I found the music I have been longing for. Emotion, deepness, real, quality artistry. James Blake keeps you on your every breath and attention. His performance left me speechless, unprepared for the emotions I left with. He played most of his set from his newest album at the time, Overgrown, that still haunts my coldest nights driving in a car, sleeping in my room or with company. His music reminds me of the month January, where it’s after the holidays, but still the dead of winter. Where you lay dormant, waiting for warmth. If you have the chance, listen to it. It’ll change your life.

*last three photos are accredited to San Francisco Chronicle.

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