How I Snuck Into Outsidelands to see Kanye

The 2015 edit. 08/07/15: The TL;DR version of how to sneak into Outsidelands:

  1. Have a printed paper ticket with you to walk up to the front gate. There are multiple security checkpoints that ask that you flash your tickets.They don’t really check the paper tickets, so as long as you have that, you can flash it at security and they’ll let you through. We didn’t do this last year and had to jump through two layers of fencing and sneak past one gate.
  2. Once you get to the main gate where they actually pat you down and scan tickets … run. Wait for a crowd to build up a bit and then run your way in. Hopefully you’ve been training for this. Security will give chase, but once you get to a large crowd of people, bob and weave and you should be able to lose yourself pretty easily.
  3. Last year we tried the entrance by the Sutra stage. You have to crest a little hill, but once you hit the crowd of people in front of the stage, you’re set.

Now, here’s the long story version from 2014:

There is nothing quite like losing yourself completely to a crowd.

This past weekend, I, along with my two friends J and D, were able to sneak into Outsidelands and watch Kanye perform live.

Folks have questioned the moral efficacy of such actions, the apparent “moral dilemma” that surrounds sneaking into music festivals. On the Pentopticon, another blog site on which I regularly contribute, I recently opined on the problematics behind the defining “youth culture” events of the Millennium:

“To lose yourself completely in the the throngs of thousands is to make yourself one with a humanity that doesn’t care who you are or what you look like. People of all shapes and sizes are welcome into the folds of main stages and side tents — those on the fringes and those in the mosh pit are let alone to do their own thing, regardless of their identity. Within the confines of the music festival, your identity becomes the festival — “I am at Coachella,” “I am doing EDC,” makes your voice one in an overwhelming chorus of mantras ruling the social media airwaves.

That is, if you can afford to attend one to begin with.

DJs proclaim that festivals are about the music, event planners market them as the time of your life, and Millennials remember them as defining milestones in their college years.

Really, the music festival is yet another corporate structure established to cultivate an experience designed to be enjoyed by a primarily middle class or affluent attendee. After all, Coachella isn’t known as “Brochella” without reason.”

I therefore see absolutely no moral dilemma behind sneaking into music festivals. When I do so, I’m saying “fuck you” to yet another entertainment system established for the well-off. Music festival event planners are the last people you should be concerned with when it comes to robbery.

Back to the story of Outsidelands.

Outsidelands is the hipster music festival held each summer in San Francisco characterized by a plenitude of joints and white folks (or are those not the descriptors for almost every music festival in the United States?).

J, D, and I met up at the Daly City BART station and took the bus in towards Golden Gate Park. Kanye West was the goal of the evening.

On the bus, I started chatting with two high school seniors from Daly City, who were also looking to jump the fence for Outsidelands. Daly City is a misty, wet suburb of San Francisco situated by the ocean — one of my best friends is from DC, and from my experience, DC natives tend to be incredibly street smart. The DC girls reported that they had almost made it in the previous year and knew a good place to jump. I immediately latched on to them, indicating to J and D that we should stick with locals who knew their way around.

We stopped by a Starbucks on the edge of the park to make use of their restroom. The Starbucks’ bathroom doors had keypads on them, ensuring that only customers could utilize the services of their indoor plumbing. D suggested that the code might just be “1,2,3,4.” She was right. We laughed — our bathroom hack was a sign of our inevitable success.

Unfortunately, my assumption of the omniscient SF knowledge that all DC residents must inherently have was misguided — the DC girls had no idea what they were doing, and we ended up following them in a circle around Golden Gate Park for an hour and a half. J finally pulled out his phone to chart our course via satellite, and we followed the map on his phone towards the festival.

Somehow, in getting lost with the DC girls, we ended up on an overpass. The Outsidelands entrance was down below. On the overpass, we met three more hipster attendees who had tickets. G,B, and J were stoked that we were trying to sneak in and wished us the best of luck.

The way Outsidelands security was set up, at least the layout that we encountered on Friday evening, involved the following: first there was a gate in which you had to flash a wristband or ticket to go through. Then, you walked along an inside pathway bordered by two fences for a while before curving and hitting another checkpoint in which you had to again flash a wristband or ticket (again, last year we were by the Sutra stage). Finally, you reached the gate in which purple-clad volunteers wearily patted down contraband-laden teenagers and scanned tickets. Like the geniuses that we were, J, D, and I went completely unprepared, bare-wristed and sans paper.

When we got down to street level, a trek that took us through woods and over a creek, my trio and the two DC girls parted ways with GBJ. We walked to our right and spotted a portion of the fence that had been caved in, and jumped.

The next ten minutes passed in a jog — we ran through bramble and bush, around an unidentified lake, and came up onto a ridge in the middle of the goddamn forrest. To our right, we saw two men on horses talking to a group that had been caught. We veered off to our left.

As we jogged along the ridge, the security from a tent down below spotted us and flagged us down. D led us in a full out run, the first of two exhausting bursts. We hit the second fence, and luckily, there was a gap in the chainlink. The three of us slipped through — unfortunately, the two DC girls were unable to keep up and fell behind.

The universe was sending me all the good karma in the world that day — after making it through the gap, we were in the inside walking portion of the entrance and GBJ just happened to be right in front of us. We called after them and they turned around with “What the fuck?! Where did you guys come from?!”

“We just hopped through two fences,” I panted.

At the next hold-up-your-papers checkpoint, GBJ helped us out by hiding us behind them. As they flashed their tickets to security, we slipped in right on the tail of their asses.

At last, we had made it to the gates of Mordor.

We were each patted down for contraband, which none of us had. Sobriety was the only state in which such attempts could be performed successfully. D was in front, followed by J, her boyfriend, and then me. D turned around to look at me as the scanner accepted the tickets of the few kids in front of us — “What do we do now?”

“Go. Fucking go.”

We sprinted in. Gazelles on the African savannah probably don’t run as fast as we ran that day. The run of my goddamn life. Purple shirts were on our tail from the moment we burst in. We headed towards the first stage on the right, which was over a small bump and a solid thirty second sprint away. I was told that security at Outsidelands was incredibly lax — this turned out to be completely untrue. I slowed down after we had crested over the bump, thinking security would stop its chase. I was already grinning, looking back at D behind me.

“Run! They’re after us!” she screamed at me and J.

We took off again. As I hit the edge of the crowd, J barely in my line of sight in front of me, I felt a hand on my arm. Thinking it was D, I slowed down. Again, I was mistaken. It was a purple shirt. Ripping my arm out of his hand, I started booking it into the crowd. Purple shirt had his hand on my arm twice before I weaved like crazy into the masses of people. When I had almost reached the front of the stage, I ducked down to tie my shoe. I was in.

J materialized next to me and we caught our breaths laughing with that incredulous I-can’t-believe-we-just-got-away-with-that smile on our faces.

But where was D?

D had been tagged. She texted J that she was at the medical tent because her leg had been scratched up. J was anxious to go back for D, but I knew that the moment we showed our faces at medical, we would be out too. I went up the hill, shred my jacket, donned sunglasses, and told J to text me if it would be okay to come over.

Five minutes later, I watched J streak back into the crowd, two purples and one yellow shirt on his heels. This time, his run was futile.

J and D were both kicked out, but I knew that as a couple, they would be fine (J and D would later find their way in through the VIP entrance; the DC high school girls would also somehow manage to get through. After Kanye’s performance, I would miraculously run into J and D again in the midst of thousands).

Ten minutes later, my phone died, perhaps the most liberating move technology could have made for me that day. Yeezy would take the stage in twenty.

I was in alone.

Me, the masses, and the music. Just the way I liked it.


2 thoughts on “How I Snuck Into Outsidelands to see Kanye

  1. this is fantastic extraordinary unforgettable and I’m incredibly jealous
    having snuck into RL Grime, MD BP, and a DNA Lounge concert, I don’t think I have the balls to chance fate again on such a big fish as Outside Lands. So I bought a ticket and succumbed to the masses. It’ll still be fun- just not adrenaline pumping, nearly certain I’m a goner fun.

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