Interview: A look behind the scenes at the making of Outside Lands
August 2, 2013
Written by Roman Gokhman
He won’t reveal whom, but Another Planet Entertainment Executive Vice President Allen Scott is already working to book the headliners for the 2014 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. At this time last year, the gears were already in motion to bring Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands 2013.
Planning the mega festival is a yearlong process, and while thousands of music fans are planning to converge on San Francisco August 9 through 11, Scott and Another Planet, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary by announcing a new festival in Las Vegas, are constantly working to make it happen.
“Each year the booking process starts further and further out because more and more artists are using festivals…as anchor dates to tour around,” said Scott during a quick respite from the home stretch to Outside Lands. “Generally, festivals pay more than traditional…venue dates.”
So while fans were watching Stevie Wonder headline the third night last year, Scott was showing the grounds to one of McCartney’s representatives to show that Outside Lands is “up to Paul’s standards.”
Just three weeks after the festival, various department chiefs discuss what worked and what didn’t. Another Planet then meets with San Francisco’s parks department to get continued approval. The next several months – through March, when the artist list is announced – are spent booking the musical artists, starting with headliners, then the bigger “anchor” artists.
In January, the food team, led by Ari Feingold, arranges the restaurants, wineries and breweries. In March and April, the festival layout is cemented with any changes from the previous year – this is why there’s no more room for additional lockers, which proved to be more popular than anticipated.
“Next year, we’ll be adding two, three, four times as many lockers,” Scott said. “It’s something that people clearly want.”
This year’s festival, for example, will see an expanded Chocolands, new art installations and different stage scrims, the fabric that covers the speakers and banners across the stages.
Click here to see a larger version of the map.
Other changes include Beer Lands being moved to the back of the Polo Fields and expanded, and an area, called Digital Detox Device-Free Tea Lounge, where folks can escape the crowds (theoretically) and modern technology.
“It’s a place where you leave the phone at the door, and there’s no technology inside,” Scott said. “You can type a letter to a friend on a typewriter, or you can just come in and have tea. It’s a place where you can totally disconnect from the world.”
There’s no word yet on whether the site will have any less cell reception than the rest of the grounds, where finding a signal proves to be difficult for many.
“There will be tea service, maybe some live music, typewriter, board games, relaxation – you can just get away from the world,” he said. “(What) differentiates festivals (are) the things beyond the music. We’re adding different lighting elements (and) different art elements.”
There are many simultaneous moving pieces to the planning of Outside Lands.
While the layout and features are being finalized, another team is booking the Barbary comedy tent. Comedians are booked later than musicians because most have TV and film commitments to complete.
Then tickets go on sale, and Another Planet’s marketing partners, such as Big Hassle Media, swing into full gear, announcing sponsorships and additional performers, as well as building buzz.
There’s a good chance that Scott gets less sleep this time of year than any other. Besides Outside Lands, Another Planet is still booking acts for the Greek Theatre, the Independent and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Treasure Island Music Festival is right around the corner, as is the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas.
Scott handles the bulk of the musical booking for Outside Lands, and it’s no surprise that he’s most excited about McCartney this year.
“It’s going to be an epic, epic show,” he said. “He’s certainly the biggest headliner we’ve ever had.”
He’s also particularly excited to see Rhye and Vampire Weekend, a band he says has grown up performing at Another Planet venues.
Another Planet prides itself on being cognizant of the pulse of the local music scene. For Outside Lands, Scott books acts the company feels can sell out the Independent – “a band that has a good local following, like The Soft White Sixties or LoCura, Social Studies” and Midi Matilda.
“It’s really important to us to have a lot of local artists to give them a national stage to perform on,” Scott said. “The Oh Sees, Ty Segall, The Coup…There have been so many great performances over the years.”