When: August 28 – 30, 2009

Where: San Francisco, California

Who: Modest Mouse, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, MIA, Tenacious D, Black Eyed Peas, Ween, and many more.

The Scene: You know it’s a San Francisco music festival when one of the more popular areas is a wine sampling garden…or that they have a wine sampling garden. I dropped into Golden Gate Park ready to soak up Outside Lands. Here are a few random notes:

Let the sunshine in. The big surprise of the weekend wasn’t a band, but the weather. In untypical San Fran fashion, the sun made a guest appearance on Friday and Saturday. And then to punish us for enjoying the dayball, Sunday returned to typical greybird skies.

Forget the main stage. The Sutro Stage rocked on Sunday. This smaller stage was tucked out of the way in Lindley Meadow.  I was able to get up close for excellent sets from both Lucinda Williams and Band of Horses.

Free food and free booze. Finding a wild blackberry thicket inside the grounds and tracking down the VIP booze area in time for MIA’s wildly uneven set totally made my Saturday.

Tenacious D didn’t suck. It was a bitter pill to have planned for the Beasties and get the D instead. I’ve had my fill of Jack Black in the last ten years. But with a show that included acrobatics, a metal god, and the devil…well hell, I had a great time.

The biggest party at the festival is outside the festival. The real party happened outside where hundreds of people gathered to listen and maybe catch a glimpse of some of the bands. Alcohol and drugs flowed out here along with the added spectacle of watching hippies rush the fence.

Leave the car at home. No waiting for hours in traffic like at most music festivals. One day I walked a scenic two miles through Golden Gate Park from my friend’s house. The next afternoon, I tried out the bus, which couldn’t have been easier. They even had a bike valet for bicycle riders.