In most instances, the tone of festivals is dictated as much (if not more so) by the setting as it is by the musical acts that make up the bill. Coachella is informed by the hallucinatory desert heat, Lollapalooza wears the hipness of urban Chicago on its sleeve, Bonnaroo gets everybody back to nature and All Points West represents the general unpleasantness of New Jersey. Outside Lands carries the same sort of vibe, as everybody is laid back, security is friendly and the clowns are able to walk freely.
As MTV News has been floating around the festival grabbing interviews and taking in sets, we've run into no fewer than a dozen people dressed in full clown regalia. Originally we just thought that they were performers from the Barbary, a special stage focusing on local cabaret and burlesque acts. But upon further investigation, it turns out that those artists only represent a fraction of the actual greasepaint-clad denizens wandering the grounds. A lot of them are here to perform, but some of these people are just here. And even more unusual? Everybody seems to be fine with it. It speaks to the "live and let live" vibe of the city that I haven't seen a single person angry (or even vaguely upset). Usually by the second afternoon, the sun and lack of hydration tends to make people a little bit punchy. But not here. The casual lineup helps, but even the Mastodon set going on right now is be pretty casual (well, relatively). So thanks to the clowns of San Francisco for helping to distill exactly what this weekend is all about.