MusicSan Francisco

Hey, Outside Lands Music Festival 2019, Your Totems Look Weak From Here

Updated: May 23, 2023 10:15
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

There is a festival tradition which started in the rave culture. It involves attendees making signs, now known as totems, that they raise on a stick above their heads. What originally started as a way for your friends to find you in a crowd of people, has become something much bigger. They are now an important part of festival culture, they are considered crowd decoration and flare for festival-goers to enjoy and essential photo opportunities for festival photographers to capture.

Totems help take the festival experience to the next level for most festival attendees. Visually most totems are unique, however, they share in common that the creators start with a sturdy pole, that they will attach a large graphic icon to. Most icons are based on pop culture, others are simply loud and unique. By design, totems tend to be 4-6 feet tall so when they are raised they into the sky they can easily be seen in a large crowd. While not necessary, finalizing your design by attaching battery-powered lights is a great way to transition the party from the day into the evening. For most festivals, it is key that the Totems are able to be seen late into the evening. While this tradition is most common for fans of EDM … it can still be seen at festivals like Outside Lands.

Speaking of San Francisco’s pinnacle outdoor festival … now is the time that I would like to take a second and to throw some serious shade at their attendee’s totem creations. I’ve been binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and getting really good at shade, thus in the words of Phi Phi O’Hara, “Go back to Party City, where you belong!” What happened to your tired-ass-totems? They were not runway ready. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” – RuPaul

Gentlemen start your engines, and may the best totem win. Here are the most tired totems of this year’s music festival.

NUMBER ONE:  I rated this one number 1 because it represents the amount of time it took to create it. Probably 1 minute, but I would have rated it a 0 based on the amount of effort that went into the creation of this Totem.

NUMBER TWO: Do you want cheese and salami with your baguette, or is that a french roll? Also, have you seen the sliced bread crew? They’re a little hard to find … their totem doesn’t stick up as far!

NUMBER THREE: “Send Nudes” … how crude! Let’s keep it classy Outside Lands … also what’s your number?

NUMBER FOUR: I feel like you gave up too soon. Can we cut this up and make piña coladas? You would have been my hero if you would have taken this one step further.

NUMBER FIVE: I gotta give this person a hand for there totem. Though they clearly don’t need it based on this photo with them and a small hand on their finger.

If you are reading this article and wondering where the hard-hitting photo coverage and festival journalism is … this is for you: Paul Simon was good, but Kygo drew a bigger crowd. Childish Gambino told us about America, while Hozier took us to church. Twenty One Pilots reminded us we’re all heathens, and the Lumineers made us feel like we’re family with sing-a-long to “Ho Hey” or something.

Previous post

KFOG 104.5 FM is Pulling the Plug After 36 Years

Next post

Ya, Fried Chicken Sandwiches are Delicious, & Factory Farming is Still Disgusting

Stefan Aronsen

Stefan Aronsen

I am the co-founder of Balanced Breakfast, a meetup for music industry professionals. No, I do not sing or play any instruments ... but I have tried! My passion for music began at 7 when my parents bought me a drum set. I was BAD at drums. So I moved on, joined the school band, and played clarinet. I was BAD at the clarinet. Trying and failing at instruments continued through elementary school and into college. It turns out that while I could recognize good music; I lacked the skill to make it.

Now I'm broke, beautiful, and writing about music for Stuart...