Recently, yours truly visited the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (it can’t all be Eurovision, y’all). While observing the crowd, the acts and even the flower crown stands crowns, I couldn’t help but compare it to Europe’s favorite television show. So I’ve compiled a list of things the events can learn from each other. Please note: I’m focusing on open-air, on-the grass type festivals along the lines of Glastonbury.

What Eurovision Can Learn from Music Festivals:

1. Take Some Chill Pills

Festivals often have a hippie spirit of easy-going love. There was very little booing or negative sentiment, even when Chvrches (pronounced “Churches”) cancelled. There was light grumbling, put people continued on their way. It was relatively chill, and people learned to appreciate the experience instead of dwelling on the negative aspects (hello line to the portable toilets). Politics sometimes clouds the Eurovision happy vibe (cough cough: Russia this year). If Eurovision is ultimately about the music, shouldn’t the fans ignore the fact that a certain act comes from this or that country? This is less an institutional thing that the EBU can control, and more of a cultural thing for the fans.

2. Diverse Tastes

Left: Tiesto, Center: Kanye West, Right: Brandon Flowers of the Killers

Outside Lands has welcomed artists from all genres, from hip-hop (Kanye West) to alternative rock (the Killers) to EDM (Tiesto). Diversity equals allure. Eurovision often gets accused of having a roster of very similar songs, and different songs either do very well or bomb. Eurovision is meant to capture the diversity of the European music industry. The fact that a song can be defined as not being “Eurovision” enough or “too good for Eurovision” is just sad. Bring what you want and leave the labels at home.

3. Public Transportation

See: This Map To Eurovision Island

We had a piece about how public transportation to this year’s venue was a hot mess, and while Outside Lands and other major festivals have their issues with transportation (keep in mind: y’all have 200,000 people at any given time in one park), they are comparatively better. The festival organizes its own shuttles, buses come by on a frequent basis, and San Francisco has a reliable and easy to comprehend subway system (BART). Yet again, that just may come with practice and the fact that Golden Gate Park always hosts Outside Lands, whereas Eurovision changes venues every year.


What Music Festivals can learn from Eurovision


How many of these acts do you bet had diva fits before their performances?

2. Give an actual performance.

It doesn’t get more dramatic than a glass cage of emotion #amiright?

I caught the tail end of the Flaming Lips and saw the whole performance by the Killers. And while hearing “Read My Mind” was a religious experience, there was little sense of a visual performance. It was standard: asking the crowd to sing bits of the song, and some killer (ha-ha) lights. No costume change, no real progression. Eurovision is famous for its crazy performances, and giving the audience a spectacle to complement the song.

3. Tighten security.

Security guard for the 2012 festival, credit to

Outside Lands is relatively secure to enter (you have to stampede with fifty people to get in without a ticket ), but once you’re inside it’s a zoo. Police officers are hard to find (which may have something to do with the drug culture of San Francisco), so if something happens, you have to walk quite a distance to get some help. At least at ESC, security makes sure that fans don’t get too close to the singers (unless we’re counting Spain 2010), and it’s relatively hard to crash. Of course, it was probably a bit heavy-handed for Azerbaijan to place guards in every row at Eurovision 2012, but at least they did their part to counter that awful terror plot.

What do you think? What can festivals and Eurovision learn from each other? Or is it like comparing oranges to apples? Let us know in the comments below!


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Bledar Leka
Bledar Leka
9 years ago

Shortly after I moved to Ireland from Albania, I experienced my first music festival and Eurovision must NOT become like a music festival. I can’t be sleeping in a tent for Eurovision week if I could barely handle a night in a tebt

9 years ago

Having just wrapped up a weekend at Outside Lands, please don’t let Eurovision become anything at all similar to that.