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Posted Aug 11th, 2015 (2:30 pm) by Staff
Outside Lands Day Three: The Day of Terrible Tech
Image by Peter VIrth

Sunday arrived and it was day three of Outside Lands. My feet and legs were still sore as I made my way back into the park. Throughout this entire weekend, no matter where I parked my bike or entered, I still couldn’t understand why I had to walk at least one a more. It’s like the park expands just for this festival; streets and paths I normally know were totally unfamiliar. The weather was even more overcast and foggy today and energy levels in the park had changed as the marathon of a weekend had began to take it’s toll.

I decided to arrive early and check out all the food vendors, and side attractions, before the crowds made it an impossibility. With crowds reaching close to 70,000 each day, I needed to get grounded if I was going to make it through the festival’s finale. Beverages also help and with that, I made my way to the WineLands booth. I earned my first ticket to Outside Lands in 2009 as a volunteer pouring wine, and I still think it’s one of the best parts of the festival. Local wineries set up shop in a circus-style tent and guests are invited to taste a couple of wines per booth, opting for a 1 ounce taste, a 4 ounce half glass or an 8 ounce full pour.

This year, I decided to really invest in utilizing the R.F.I.D. chip in the wrist band as a form of payment. Attempting to avoid the crowds waiting in line to buy “Bison Bucks” for tastings, the wristband could be loaded at a top-up station inside WineLands or directly from the Outside Lands app (which stopped working conveniently on Sunday) when registered. At each booth, a user tapped their wrist on a small device to activate the transaction and once again to confirm the payment.

Brilliant, here was technology being useful,” I thought.

In a city where residents have accepted that $2200 a month is a “steal” for a studio apartment; I’m a firm believer that when someone has already shelled out close to $400.00 for a ticket, he or she is somewhat willing to spend an inflated price for quality food and beverage. I, personally, also want it to be easy for a venue to take my money. If you make it simple for me to buy my friends a round of drinks without thinking, I will turn into Oprah at Christmas time. “You get a drink! You get a drink! You ALL get a drink!” Make it difficult for me and I will be annoyed.

I get it, it was the first year to try out this R.F.I.D. chip pay system. As a major sponsor, Paypal suffered a blow when their system slowed down or crashed last year for the vendors. The festival wanted to try something new and see how it worked. And it worked amazingly well. Checking my bank balance this morning was a painful realization of how many times I topped up my wristband at WineLands (clearly that $32 a glass of Scribe Chardonnay was a necessity.) But in what was an annoying flip, the food vendors were cash only and the rented A.T.Ms continued to crash, shut down or show a “connecting” message for upwards of 10 minutes (we timed it), leaving users wondering if their cash would start shooting out the minute they walked away. So, here I was with the ability drink my day away and almost no way to buy food unless I found a working A.T.M. Frustrated is a nice way to put it.

I’m hoping that next year the R.F.I.D. system is implemented to all food, merchandise and alcohol vendors (Paypal was still working at BeerLands and the regular beer and wine booths). Technology plays such an integral role in the narrative of the Bay Area and it’s amazing to have our home be the testing ground for new ideas before they spread to the rest of the country. Just give me a way to mindlessly spend my money and I will make it worth every vendors time. Plus my friends and I will be happy and full.

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