New tech adds to fan experience at SF's Outside Lands

August 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco is about to rock, and we're not talking earthquakes. Outside Lands is back! The three-day music festival that kicks off Friday in Golden Gate Park will host 65,000 fans each day. And there's new technology that will let you plug in and get connected to the live music, even if you're not there.

As the road crew tunes and tests Sir Paul McCartney's grand piano, the giant image of TV color bars towers three stories tall behind them. LED jumbotrons have changed rock concerts.

"All the instrumentation, all the facial expressions, it's really an up close personal look at it, even though you might be 30, 40 yards away from the actual stage," Outside Lands producer Bryan Duqette said.

Performances like Metallica's from last year wound up on YouTube.

But this year, the video from those jumbotrons will stream live on the Outside Lands website to folks across the country and across the street.

"Since we're sold out and we have been for the past three weeks, there's a lot of locals here that haven't had the chance to get tickets," Duquette said.

Also streaming is a radio station, just for Outside Lands, on the free app TuneIn.

"We'll be able to come on and say all right, Paul McCartney's about to come on, he's just taking the stage," said online radio host Cruze.

Live DJ's will broadcast feeds from all the different stages and do interviews.

"We're even gonna have some bands come straight through here, like Jurassic 5 and more, who'll do interviews here in the tent, exclusively on TuneIn," said TuneIn marketing director Ryan Polivka.

But maybe the biggest piece of technology here is actually the smallest. Smartphones have changed the way we enjoy music. And now, they're changing Outside Lands as well.

A YouTube video from last year shows a sea of cellphones lighting up the night sky. But equally important, is what's on the other end.

"When somebody like Paul McCartney comes onstage and everybody's gonna want a picture or to take video and send that to their friends, they're all gonna be utilizing the network and downloading and uploading things at once," AT&T spokesperson Alex Carey said.

So AT&T brought the biggest mobile cell site it's ever set up in Northern California. It's called the Mega-COW. COW is short for "cell on wheels."

You won't hear it mooing. But chock full of radios and network equipment, it'll do a lot of tweeting.

Fiber strung through the trees, antennas hidden everywhere, AT&T's even got a mobile command center.

"So that we can react quickly if something were to go down or some other event, catastrophic event might happen," AT&T radio engineer Vijay Bugada said.

Verizon has also reinforced its network for Outside Lands. A spokeswoman told ABC7 News the carrier has surrounded the festival with three smaller cells on wheels.


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