No Lineup? No Problem! Outside Lands Tickets Go on Sale Anyway

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Attendees at Outside Lands 2015. (Gabe Meline)

Whenever I mention the fact that Coachella sells out instantly without even announcing a lineup, people look at me like I'm nuts.

"Wait," they say, "you mean thousands of people pay $350 to go to a music festival without even knowing who's playing?!"

The crowd at Outside Lands, Aug. 8, 2015. (Photo: Gabe Meline/KQED)
The crowd at Outside Lands, Aug. 8, 2015. (Photo: Gabe Meline/KQED)

It's crazy, I know. But it also underscores why most people go to big outdoor festivals in the first place: it's less about the music on stage, and more about the experience in and around the festival grounds -- an experience that's looking more and more homogenous around the world.

This week, Outside Lands aims for that same brass ring by putting three-day passes to the festival on sale before announcing any official lineup whatsoever. It's an early-bird "Eager Beaver" onsale, and you can bet that the limited quantity of tickets offered will disappear instantly.

This will happen for a variety of reasons. One is that the lineups at big festivals nationwide are virtually indistinguishable from each other anyway -- the same large acts play Coachella, Lollapalooza, FYF Fest, Bonnaroo, and Outside Lands. And in the tech-wealthy Bay Area, there's no end of young moneyed partygoers in neon shorts and feather headresses willing to throw down a few hundred dollars to be part of the action. If the lineup turns out to be a bummer? No big deal: ticket buyers can always make a cool profit reselling passes on secondhand sites like Stubhub after the festival sells out.

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Want to join the three-ring circus? "Eager Beaver" passes go on sale Thursday, March 31, at 10am at this very link right here.

The other details: Radiohead is already basically confirmed as a headliner, and LCD Soundsystem is a very safe bet. Lana Del Rey and Arcade Fire are in the mix of potential acts, too. But early-bird tickets are already $40 higher than last year, and fans also aren't too happy that Outside Lands is now using the same online waiting room model that causes would-be Coachella attendees so much frustration each year.

It must be said that, if we had to pick, Outside Lands remains one of our favorite outdoor festivals. But festivals by nature are not at all ideal for seeing bands you truly love in the first place.

As for the fact that thousands of people will buy tickets before knowing who's playing?

That speaks to a disconcerting redefinition of "music fan."