Outside Lands music fest features female headliners, cannabis corner

  Now in its 11th year, the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival gets underway today in San Francisco.

Thousands of festival-goers from throughout the Bay Area and beyond will pack Golden Gate Park this weekend to see R&B and pop icon Janet Jackson, soul crooner The Weeknd, U.K. songstress Florence and The Machine and dozens of established and up-and-coming artists.

Perhaps most notably, the festival features two female-led headliners following 10 years without any.

 Allen Scott, vice president at Another Planet Entertainment, which produces Outside Lands, said the festival is responding to the times, the shifting music industry and the audience, which is 60 percent female.

"Certainly, there's a climate out there right now with the .MeToo movement, the women's power movement that is long overdue," Scott said. "And we've listened to those concerns and actively went out this year looking for at least one female headliner." 

Another Planet had approached Florence and the Machine about performing at the festival in years past, and this time she accepted, he said. Not only are two of the three festival headliners women, but so are all three of the festival's Barbary comedy stage headliners.

 Having attracted the biggest pop, rock, hip-hop and electronica acts in the world to stages inside the fog-drenched, cypress tree-canopied Golden Gate Park, Another Planet and co-producer Superfly said they are looking to enhance the fan experience.   

This year will see an inaugural speaker series called Discussions About Virtually Anything (D.A.V.E.) with California Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom and TV personality Bill Nye among the presenters.

 In addition to the successful Beer Lands, Wine Lands, a larger GastroMagic culinary stage, the Barbary, and the lauded Taste of the Bay Area food offerings, this year will include a marijuana-mini-community called Grass Lands. The producers were inspired by the Museum of Ice Cream as they 
were planning the layout.

 "We celebrate so much what is great with San Francisco and the Bay Area through the food, the wine, the beer, the art. This is the next step in that evolution," Scott said.

Other activities include a bubble tea party, an area where concertgoers can buy and then customize official festival merchandise with patches, embroidery and more, a smaller take on festival classic Choco-Lands and the return of Cocktail Magic, mini golf and a high-end four-course 
outdoor dining experience.

Scott, whose Another Planet also produces Life is Beautiful in downtown Las Vegas, said Outside Lands has the most beautiful setting nationwide.

 The acts, too, are often in awe of the foggy mornings, wooded trails between stages and trees that are lit up in bold colors as night falls each day. Even artists who have yet to play the festival have heard stories from their peers. 

"Golden Gate Park looks so beautiful in photos," said Michigan singer-songwriter B+RNS, who is playing his first Outside Lands. Carlos Arevalo of indie rockers Chicano Batman said the venue is a 
big draw.

 "We look forward to sharing our music with everyone in the beautiful nature that engulfs the festival as well as in a place that historically has been the backdrop for several culturally shifting musical 
milestones," Arevalo said. "We feel the spirit of our music parallels the spirit of the park."