Outside Lands is back for 2021 but is it too early?

Our writer Ashley Bulayo has some thoughts about this year’s Outside Lands, the first major Bay Area fest to return after live music’s COVID-induced freeze.

It was the music announcement heard all around the Bay Area: Outside Lands is back for 2021. It’s bringing all its glory back to Golden Gate Park during Halloween weekend (October 29 – 31, 2021).

Hey Bay Area, let’s chat.

I, along with so many of you, miss concerts just as much as the next person. I lived and breathed live events. Remember what it was like making friends with strangers who love the same artist as you? Overeating great food by the local food vendors? Or even randomly jamming out inside The House by Heineken tent in between sets? How about running into your old friends and sharing a beer like it was nothing?


Let’s be realistic. I’m no fortune teller, but is anyone else still scared of COVID-19? Yes. Will a large percentage of us (fingers crossed) be fully vaccinated by then, and we will hopefully reach herd immunity? Maybe, but the thought of a jam-packed festival is still a major reality check.

Both Coachella and Stagecoach recently said peace out for 2021. I truly believed other major festivals would follow suit but OK, Outside Lands. Prove me wrong.

Here’s what their website had to say in terms of safety protocols:

“The health and safety of the Outside Lands and San Francisco communities remains our top priority. We are working closely with local and state officials to create the safest festival experience possible. As guidance on openings of public gatherings is shifting rapidly, the move to October allows us the time to work collectively to determine any new safety procedures necessary to implement during the festival. In the meanwhile, please do what you can

 to help us with this effort by continuing to wear your masks and getting your vaccine when it’s your turn!”

As mentioned, I’m not a fortune-teller; I can’t assume what will happen come October. I mean, how were we supposed to know what was going to happen to the world back in March 2020? Things change so drastically in just a few months. Maybe I’m just too skeptical, and I should think positive.

As of this week, 3-Day General Admission and VIP are entirely sold out. FOMO is intense, and it has built up to an all-time high after being robbed of an entire year of any formal live events whatsoever. Seeing that this is one of the first major events to help us come back to “normality,” Outside Lands 2021 has become our beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.

The idea of having the chance to pass through the festival gates and see unfamiliar faces (though under masks, I’m assuming), outside of our homes, all in one central area, feels all too foreign. How are we all going to interact with one another? Are the lines going to be six feet apart, knowingfa how cramped the area can be already? How will crowding at the front stage be like? The line to the Port-A-Potties? (I silently gagged at the thought of those dreaded bathrooms.)

I have more questions than answers. But the major question is, what will life be like come October? I won’t know how I feel about Outside Lands’ return until I have an answer to that.

Share your thoughts and opinions on our social channels: Are you for or against Outside Lands coming back this year?