May 21, 2024

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Buzz The Music

Gen Z vs. boomer style at this weekend’s two SF music festivals

Tanner Owens, left, and Nicholas Angeloni of Las Vegas show off their outfits during the Portola Music Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

This weekend was San Francisco’s festival equivalent of Barbenheimer. The city held not one but two major festivals, each drawing its own (mostly) self-contained demographic.

In Golden Gate Park, the breezy, free-to-enter Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival drew in families, Deadheads, jugglers and picnickers. On the other side of town, the Bay Area’s fashion-forward festival crowd flocked to the second annual Portola Music Festival, and at a steep cost — the electronic music event cost well over $300 for a weekend general admission ticket. Here, even most millennials were soundly above the median attendee age.

To document the character of the two events, SFGATE visited both festivals and photographed the most memorable outfits. We noticed some themes. This year’s Portola crowd had a penchant for scarves, bug-eyed sunglasses and clothes that look like disco balls. Hardly Strictly’s demographic opted for hiking shoes, denim and tie-dye shirts.

Oddly enough, each had its fair share of cowboy hats. 

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Linda Gordon and Brixton, East Bay

Linda Gordon with her dog Brixton at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Linda Gordon with her dog Brixton at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Timothy Karoff/SFGATE

Linda Gordon and Brixton work as a designer and a therapy dog, respectively. They travel to “all the major festivals” around the Bay Area, with new costumes for each event, all falling loosely under a style that Gordon describes as “eclectic vintage boho.” Their outfits at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass were a mix of homemade fashion and flea market finds. Gordon made Brixton’s chaps herself.

“It’s the most amazing free music festival in the most amazing park in the most amazing city,” she said of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

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Gautham Sajieth, 30, New York City

Gautham Sajieth at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Gautham Sajieth at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

Sajieth works as a design technologist in New York City. He flew out to attend the Portola Music Festival with his Bay Area friends. 

“Normally, I like to rock one statement piece, and then the rest is pretty mellow,” he said of his fashion sense. His jacket was based on a similar piece from a New York brand called BODE, which cost $1,600. He showed his girlfriend the design, and she made him the jacket and pants for his birthday. Both pieces were fashioned from the same quilt.

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David Blood, 67, Tenderloin

David Blood at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

David Blood at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Timothy Karoff/SFGATE

Blood, who plays in the Unauthorized Rolling Stones, summed up his Hardly Strictly style in one word: “ballsy.” He got his jacket at Out of the Closet, and his late wife painted his pants. He found the glasses at a yard sale.

“This is partially my outfit when I play in the band,” he said. Although he didn’t know who was playing that day, he maintained that Hardly Strictly Bluegrass was one of his “favorite things there is.”

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Marco Raye, 35, San Diego

Marco Raye at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Marco Raye at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

Marco Raye, who works in marketing for a software company, described his style as “oppressed, yet free — perseverant, resistant, authentic and lovely.” He was most excited to see Roisin Murphy and Little Dragon at Portola.

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“Honestly, I just wanted to be like a mobile disco ball, a disco-ball-on-wheels kind of situation,” he said of his outfit. “Disco chicken is kind of the vibe of Portola.” He bought his pants and jacket from Akira. 

Dan Laughlin, 53, Golden Gate Park

Dan Laughlin at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Dan Laughlin at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Hardly Strictly attendee Dan Laughlin, who does “odd jobs,” moves around from place to place in his motor home. He’s currently set up near Golden Gate Park.

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He got his hat, made of hemp, at a festival many years ago, and he adorned it with wristbands from past festivals plus pins his mother gave him. He wore a festival T-shirt from Earthdance, an event at Hog Farm Hideaway in Northern California. “I forgot about [Earthdance], so I wore it today,” he said.

Marisol Montano, 28, San Jose

Marisol Montano at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Marisol Montano at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

Marisol Montano, who works for a homelessness prevention nonprofit, attended the Portola Music Festival on Saturday for Eliza Rose, Dom Dolla and Underworld.

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She thrifted the mesh and bought her fuzzy bucket hat on Etsy. She cut her jeans into shorts, and she made the heart necklace herself.

Lydia Cooley, 20, and Marino Welsh-Johnson, 28, Chico

Marino Welsh-Johnson and Lydia Cooley at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Marino Welsh-Johnson and Lydia Cooley at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

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“I chose to wear all denim today in the spirit of bluegrass,” Lydia Cooley said. She works in a pizza shop but moonlights as a musician and songwriter, writing folky music with a touch of Pink Floyd. She donned guitar pick earrings with a purpose: “to make sure the musicians know that I’m also a musician,” she said.

This was Cooley and Marino Welsh-Johnson’s first time at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. “I love how relaxed it feels in comparison to all the other festivals that are happening here,” Welsh-Johnson remarked.

Shelley Baker, 27, San Jose

Shelley Baker at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Shelley Baker at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2023.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

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Shelley Baker bought her getup from Dolls Kill, an online retailer specializing in festival and festival-adjacent fashion. “I like sparkle. I like glitter,” she said, in reference to her style. “I don’t know. I just like to have fun with clothes.”

Baker works as a restaurant manager. When she spoke to SFGATE, she was trying to decide between seeing Nelly Furtado and Major Lazer at Portola.

Antoinette Washington, 65, Haight-Ashbury, and Audrey Jones, 56, Forest Knolls

Antoinette Washington and her friend Audrey Jones at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Antoinette Washington and her friend Audrey Jones at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2023.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

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Antoinette Washington planned her outfit with an eye toward functionality, donning ankle-supporting boxing shoes and tights for warmth. She originally planned a different outfit but adapted for the fog. 

Washington and Audrey Jones have been best friends for more than 15 years. Washington runs a pantry in front of her house in the Haight. 

“It’s the soul of San Francisco,” Jones said of Hardly Strictly.

Sebastian Contento, 27, Mission District

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Sebastian Contento poses for a photo at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Oct. 1, 2023.

Sebastian Contento poses for a photo at the Portola Music Festival at Pier 80 in San Francisco on Oct. 1, 2023.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Sebastian Contento described his style as “old-school queer, soft punk.” The jacket and pants were by a British designer named Charles Jeffrey, whom Contento had followed while in fashion design school. The boots were by Rick Owens. 

Contento listed Skrillex, Labrinth and the Blaze among his top picks for the day.