San Francisco's iconic Outside Lands Music Festival returns this Halloween weekend after a heartbreaking cancelation in 2020 and a difficult postponement announcement earlier this year. But to the excitement of fans up and down the West Coast who make the trek to the Bay Area each year, the festival is set to return now better (and safer) than ever. Collaborating brands and various sponsors of the event have also shifted their approach to their festival activations to accommodate these unique pseudo-post-pandemic times to offer creative new experiences. The House by Heineken has long been a favorite activation of festival fans and this year they are creating an unforgettable backyard-themed experience with an outdoor format designed to celebrate the ways people have connected with each other over the past 18 months. EARMILK had the chance to chat with Christine Karimi, Senior Manager of Partnerships and Consumer Experience at HEINEKEN USA to learn a bit more about what's special about this year's new experience.
"As festival organizers are obviously taking their cues from the state and the city, then passing it onto us, and then once we thought we understood the rules, and formulate a game plan, the rules would change or things would be tweaked, so we constantly had to be able to change our point of view, shift our approach, and be flexible," shard Karimi as we discussed the challenges many brands across the board had to face with the pandemic. "But we all had the same end goal in mind; we want to offer an awesome consumer experience but with safety always being a priority for everyone, so people can come and feel comfortable enough to have fun again."
And while the pandemic of course created a slew of special challenges that event organizers needed to face, it didn't come without some opportunities for creative change either. "So I feel like there was an opportunity to reinvent ourselves a little bit, while still kind of staying true to how the brand looks and feels," shares Karimi. "This was an opportunity to just do something totally different and with a new approach. The pandemic provided us a unique opportunity to think and work together differently to come out with an exciting new layout that we might not have come to without having been put in this unique position."
As fans can remember, the Heineken House (as many refer to it) is typically set towards the backend of the iconic Polo Grounds in Golden Gate Park facing the main stage. While this year's roof is coming off, engineers and event organizers from Another Planet Entertainment worked hand-in-hand with the Heineken team to create giant custom wall barriers and curate strategic set times to avoid any combative sound bleed from the main stage acts. Kamiri says, "What have we been doing in 2020? We've been kind of hanging out in our backyard, you know, playing tunes, hanging with each other, and this year's house is a nice nod to the comfort and solace many of us sought out during this time. So this year, we kind of wanted it to feel less like a club where you're closed in, and you're on top of each other and more of that familiar open-air feeling amongst friends playing music, but now it's just live, and finally in front of you again."
The House by Heineken has always featured some of the most memorable performances outside of the main festival stages. And this year's house is featuring another set of stellar headlining acts such as Kelis—known for her breakout hit "Milkshake" but is also set to release a highly anticipated new album soon. Also performing is legendary hip-hop producer and dance DJ Sango. And with this year's festival occurring on Halloween weekend, on Sunday night The Egyptian Lover is set to perform some deliciously eclectic dance tunes. But of course, the Bay Area always supports their own and Heineken followed suit by adding a respectable representation of West Coast acts, including famed radio DJ and Popscene godfather Aaron Axelson, along with other local acts such as Banksia, Lirl79, and more.
While tickets for this year's festival are heavily sold out, 3-day VIP and Single Day VIP tickets featuring a unique experience crafted by iconic San Francisco designer Ken Fulk are still on sale: Buy Tickets Here