Outside Lands 2014 poster

For more on Outside Lands 2014, check out our spotlight on local artists performing at this year’s festival.

The seventh annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival (August 8 to 10 in Golden Gate Park), once again produced by Another Planet Entertainment, Superfly Presents and Starr Hill Presents, has some new features for fans of music, food and drink. The Bay Bridged interviewed Another Planet Executive Vice President Allen Scott about the new additions, as well as the future of festival, on which the producers already have their sights.

The Bay Bridged: Tom Petty is the festival’s first repeat headliner in its seven-year history. Why’d you decide to go that route this year?

Allen Scott: We’ve discussed repeating a headliner. This is the seventh year of the festival…and Tom Petty approached us wanting to come back to the festival. He’s someone people have been asking for and he’s certainly a legendary artist. The festival has evolved so much from that first year…that we felt there were a lot of people who have not seen him before at Outside Lands. This was a time where he’s got a new album, and at the time he wasn’t playing any festivals. I believe he’s playing only one other. He was about to go out on tour, and we thought the timing was really good for him to come back.

TBB: Was there another headliner that pulled out at the last minute, or was Petty the plan all along?

Scott: Not at all. It’s always a puzzle to book the headliners. We’re already talking to people for headliners for next year. It’s become a multi-year conversation with various artists.

TBB: Kanye West proved to be a distraction as a Bonnaroo headliner. Are you worried about a similar fan reaction here? There were quite a few people who didn’t go crazy when his name was announced for Outside Lands.

Scott: We’re not concerned. We’ve done a lot of shows with Kanye in the Bay Area over the years. The Bay Area really seems to embrace him, his audience is very diverse…and focus(es) on the music with him. He’s certainly a musical genius. He’s had some of the most relevant records of the last 10 years. Although he can be divisive for some, I think the Bay Area really embraces him. And if you don’t want to see him, there’s another artist over at Twin Peaks you can see.

TBB: How do you keep the music lineup fresh every year? What’s your strategy?

Scott: It gets more and more difficult. There are a lot of music festivals in the country right now. Among the top five – us, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and ACL – we work diligently to be as different as we can be. It starts with the lineup. Inevitably, there’s going to be some crossover. But we try to bring a unique lineup every year. This year, when we booked Kanye, it was just us and Bonnaroo. Tom Petty is doing only one other festival, and the Killers are doing only one other. Macklemore isn’t doing any others. We do also realize that 50 percent of our audience comes from the Bay Area. We want to service our local foundation and what they want to see, because they may not be traveling all over the country. I think the big advantage we have with Outside Lands is not just the lineup, but everything else that goes around it. The food, the wine, Golden Gate Park, and a lot of the other fun elements we have, such as the Barbary, Choco Lands. We have some fun things we’re planning this year. We try to continue to push the experience outside of the music for people.

TBB: Did you skip Outkast on purpose, because so many other festivals had them on the bill?

Scott: We had conversations with Outkast and what we determined to do with them was Treasure Island (which is also co-produced by Another Planet). For us, by doing them at Treasure Island, that’s the smallest festival they are playing. It made it special for an act that’s playing 40, 50 festivals throughout the world. And we’ve been talking to Kanye West for many years. He’s somebody we really wanted to have at the festival. That was a choice – in a year when everyone else is doing Outkast, to stand out.

TBB: What’s new this year at the festival?

Scott: We have an iconic piece of art that we will have in Lindley Meadow at the entrance that we will unveil this year and will have for many years to come. It will be one of those photo opportunity pieces….We’re doing a pop-up restaurant in McLaren Pass with Tosca. It will be sit-down with table service and cocktails. We’re trying to push the food and beverage (offerings) forward. You know, when we started the festival seven years ago, we were the first festival in the country to do local restaurants. Now, more and more festivals are beginning to do that, and we want to continue to lead in that area. We’re also expanding our cocktail program. We’ll have an area called Cocktail Magic, which will be working with different bars in San Francisco. With that there will also be a lounge, in McLaren Pass. We’re updating the production on Twin Peaks (stage) and the video, because the acts continue getting bigger on that stage.

[Writer’s note: The Paypal-sponsored lockers, which quickly sold out in 2013, will return in higher numbers. The company will also be offering discounts on food for several vendors, when festival-goers pay through the Paypal app. Paypal will also offer cell phone charging stations and several periscopes throughout the festival grounds pointed at stages from a distance.]

TBB: What does the future hold for Outside Lands?

Scott: There’s certainly bucket-list headliners we’re constantly going after. Hopefully we can snag some of those for future years. Because we’ve extended out lease in the city through 2021, we’ve really been able to invest in festival elements that can pay themselves back over time….We want to continue to provide the best festival possible to the fans of the festival.

Follow writer Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter and RomiTheWriter.Tumblr.com.