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This is a guest post by Svetlana Saitsky.

Outside Lands is more an experience than a festival. One might attend in order to hear awesome music, eat gourmet food and drink delicious beer, wine and spirits (or coconut water). Others might come to hang out with old friends and meet new ones while they appreciate festival wear, which might range from almost naked to layers upon layers (and don’t forget the fur). Veterans of Outside Lands know to prepare for the volatile weather of San Francisco in summertime and everyone else finds a friendly stranger to warm up to among the glowing hues of Eucalyptus trees that surround Golden Gate Park.

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For the 7th year in a row, 200,000 people gathered in Golden Gate Park to experience over 100 acts across 7 stages, with 70 local food vendors, 36 wineries, 16 breweries and dozens of vendors featuring everything from funky festival attire to haircuts. This year, there was a magical reverberation and a certain “cosmic mojo” in the air according to Tom Petty, who headlined along with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tiesto, Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, and The Killers.

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In terms of standout musical performances: the ladies really rocked it out. Haim put on a killer show on the main Lands End stage, inviting the audience to come along to their house party and jam. Invitation accepted!

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Other female standout performances included Lucius and Lykee Li—who asked the crowd to pass her a joint and as she took a puff and continued her set, she exclaimed, “it’s great to be in San Francisco!” the audience agreed and danced on.

This was a very San Francisco moment, and exactly what makes Outside Lands special. Somehow, despite the gigantic crowds and typical mayhem of a festival, the people here like to share and create a familial vibe and, yes, explore deeper conversations.  Overhearing things like, “Patience wins battles. Sun Tzu” as you walk through the festival, is not at all surprising. And when you hear it, you laugh, appreciate, breath in the ridiculousness and skip on over to the next show.

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Rock, pop, country, hip-hop and beyond, there is something for everyone when it comes to music. Night Terrors of 1927, The Soul Rebels, Chromeo, Disclosure were a few favorites on Friday, and Local Native, Deer Tick, Tycho, Death Cab For Cutie, Atmosphere, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rocked it out on Saturda. Sunday favorites included Paolo Nutini, Lucius, Spoon, Lykke Li, The Flaming Lips, Ray Lamontagne, Cut Copy, The Killers and Tiesto.

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The brick oven pizza from Del Popolo and the wine from Wind Gap Wines in Sonoma were exceptionally delicious. Having had the chance to chat briefly with Shaun O-Sullivan, the founder and Co-Owner of Humphry Slocombe ice cream in San Francisco, I learned that no matter how cold it is, ice cream always warms him up. Being particularly cold in that moment, I decided to give the whole ice cream warm up a shot. It worked. This was one of many delicious moments that captured my full attention throughout the weekend.

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Throughout the three days of Outside Lands, I experienced every single human emotion there is. It reminded me of an art piece I noticed on the first day which had the words happiness, love, depression, isolation, inspiration among others written/painted on it. I noticed this particular installation because it felt very real.  As the weekend came to a close, I realized that what I appreciated this art piece was the same thing I appreciate about the experience of Outside Lands – it’s authenticity.

– Svetlana Saitsky

Photographs by Svetlana Saitsky and Victoria Felicity

More information on Outside Lands: http://www.sfoutsidelands.com/home/