May 10, 2014

We’ve talked before about how few things make us smile more than a sunny day in San Francisco. One of those things that makes us smile even more is a warm, sunny day in Golden Gate Park. And that’s exactly what we got at San Francisco’s Oyster Festival last Saturday, May 10th.

The fifteenth iteration of festival took place at Sharon Meadow, inside the park on the side closest to the Haight. While it took a while to get into the festival area due to the number of people who ordered their tickets online and were picking them up at will call, once we were in the wait was more than worth it.

Once we got in and looked around we found that the meadow truly was the perfect setting for a festival of this size. There was enough room for each of the food trucks, photo booths, and other vendors to have their own space and to avoid lines running into each other. It felt as though there were people everywhere, but not in an overwhelming way. The area was the well-suited for a crowd this size, leaving just enough grassy area for guests to spread out and lay down in between sets.

We also noticed sufficient representation of all our favorite festival stereotypes with a poignantly San Francisco touch. There were the typical cool guys trying to look cool while keeping the beer out of their beards. The tipsy girls in dresses who hadn’t been told that it’s rarely ever dress weather in the city. And, of course, the music-loving twenty-somethings who are a constant, hipster presence in this city that we love.

The food selection was impressive and covered a broad range of ethnicities. As a distinctly San Francisco event, one that boasted 17 food trucks and food vendors, it was no surprise that the food at Osyterfest featured a lineup just as wonderful as the music. Of course, there were many oyster varieties, seafood paella, and plenty of grilled meat. Some food truck stars were Bacon Bacon, New Orleans Catering,  Fritas Shack, and Sentia Mobile Sushi. The VIP area also featured food from O’Reilly’s Pub, which offered a variety of appetizers, meatloaf, pasta, and other dishes we weren’t able to sample because they ran out too quickly.

The primarily East Bay vendor, Poutine, drove their cart into the park to sell their delectable French fries. These scrumptious potato creations made my mouth water just looking at them. Piled high with cheeses, sauces, veggies, and meats, tracking down this food truck should be at the top of your list, whether or not you got to try them at the festival.

Undoubtedly, it’s always the lineup, more than anything else, that makes a festival what it is. Oysterfest’s lineup did not disappoint. Featuring five bands whose music and personalities were all different, yet similar enough that they were all able to work the crowd to get them dancing on the grass, these bands were just the right size for this meadow venue.

The lineup featured local band Eyes on the Shore, Crash, Ra Ra Riot, Poolside, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Ra Ra Riot definitely looked the most polished when they took the stage as the first big name of the afternoon. Poolside came next, looking and sounding exactly like their name would insinuate. The finale came with the eclectic Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, who all came together to fill the meadow with music and dancing. Frontman Alex Ebert pranced around the stage in an all white linen ensemble that only added to his air of frivolousness and intrigue. Since vocalist Jade Castrinos was not accompanying the band on this tour, Ebert brought onstage two audience members to help him sing the band’s most famous song, “Home.”

The band performs without set lists (check out Ebert’s thoughts on the matter here), so watching them discuss in between songs what to perform next was a rare scene during a concert, but one that revealed the deep musicality of the group. Ra Ra Riot and Poolside also performed great music, setting up the easy vibes that would carry on into the evening.

The strict noise curfew cut off the festivities at 6 p.m., bringing the Magnetic Zeros’ set to a close and rounding out a beautiful day in the park. Here at SFCS we’re big fans of the motto “good friends, good food, good music.” And that’s exactly what the 15th annual Oysterfest brought us. We had a great day in the sun at Sharon Meadow, hanging out with old and new friends, getting to meet the incredible musicians featured in this year’s lineup, enjoying all the delicious food options, and of course, delighting in the music that drew us all there in the first place.

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