08/08/2011 05:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Outside Lands 2011: It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (PLAYLIST)

Outside Lands and I have had our ups and downs.

There was the time I got crushed in the stampede of rabid fans tearing down the fence by the Beck stage in order to make it to Radiohead. The time I bought a "discounted" ticket on Craigslist only to discover at the entrance it was fake. The time a hippie gave me festival favors and I thought the trees were attacking me. And perhaps the worst mishap of all: the time I opted to see Dave Matthews instead of the Mars Volta (my brother will never let me live that one down).

But despite my few bouts of bad luck, nothing excites me more than those three days each year when Golden Gate Park transforms into a land of musical wonder. I've been to every single Outside Lands since its inception in 2008 and have never come home disappointed. What's better than watching some of the world's most talented artists perform in one of the world's most beautiful settings?

Outside Lands Co-Producer Rick Farman insists that this weekend's extravanagza will be the best yet. "This year it's coalesced," he told me. "Everything we have done until now has been solid building blocks."

Farman said that in addition to the most robust food, wine and art lineup they've had, transportation to and from the event has improved and programmers have provided access to a wooded area between Speedway and Lindley Meadows that was blocked off in previous years. "Every time I walk through it I get excited," he said. "It feels like you're not in the festival, but you're in the park."

To get our readers in the festival spirit, we'll be rolling out a slew of Outside Lands-centric stories throughout the week, including a roundup of homegrown acts to check out, the best of OSL's non-music offerings (wine tasting tent, anyone?) and your ultimate weekend survival guide. In the mean time, get excited about the lineup by checking out a playlist of some of my personal favorites from this year's performers below.

And be sure to scoop those last-minute tickets quickly. "It will sell out all three days," Farman warned. "There is no doubt."

See you in the park!