It seems like every day a music festival is announcing a lineup, and I was wishing I was independently wealthy so I could attend them all. “But Susan,” you ask, “how will I ever keep track of them?” Look no further, because I have compiled a list for your convenience:
South By Southwest (SXSW): WHEN: March 7-16 WHERE: Austin, TX
This film and music festival, which began in 1987, was attended by over 30,000 people last year. It is the largest festival of its kind; last year there were over 2,000 “official” performers in 100 venues. This year, The Ceremonies, Apache Relay, Shakey Graves, Moon Taxi, Wild Child, and Wild Cub will be performing, just to name a few.
Coachella: WHEN: April 11-14 & April 18-20 WHERE: Indio, CA
Oh how I love Coachella. Sadly, I’ve never been, but for the last several years, I’ve watched it streaming live on YouTube. While that’s not ideal, it is free, the air conditioning is on, and the bathroom is always available. The festival has been held in the desert of Southern California every year since 1999 (except for 2000 when there were some financial issues), and this year there are 7 stages featuring over 150 bands such as headliners Outkast, Muse, and Arcade Fire, along with Lorde, HAIM, Capital Cities, and Foster the People, to name a few. I can’t wait.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazzfest): WHEN: April 25-May 4 WHERE: New Orleans, LA
An hypnotic mixture of music, history, food, and folklore, New Orleans enchants me. Jazzfest is a celebration of “the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana” and has been held there since 1970. The genres represented range from blues and zydeco to rock and rap. This year’s lineup includes Vampire Weekend, Public Enemy (whaaaaaaat??), Robin Thicke, Eric Clapton, Alabama Shakes, and jam band The String Cheese Incident.
CounterPoint: WHEN: April 25-27 WHERE: Kingston Downs in Rome, GA
CounterPoint is a three-day extravaganza held on the Kingston Downs property in Rome, Georgia, where you can participate in festival-specific workshops, indulge in ‘glamping,’ and be visually stimulated by art installations, all while you enjoy the sounds of artists like Outkast, Moon Taxi, and Foster the People, who all seem to be making the festival rounds this year. That might be the most informative sentence I’ve ever written.
Shaky Knees: WHEN: May 9-11 WHERE: Atlanta, GA
I’m not exactly sure how long Shaky Knees has been around, and I’ve only recently heard of it. It doesn’t appear that there are greening initiatives, art installations, interactive workshops, or camping sites available, but holy buckets, the lineup is fantastic. Modest Mouse, Lord Huron, Portugal. The Man, Foals, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes, Foals, Cage The Elephant, and Violent Femmes (my heart just fluttered. Please tell me, dear readers, that you know who the Violent Femmes are), you’ve got to take a look for yourself. I only live a few hours from Atlanta, and I might just have to drive myself on down there for this lineup, which is closely rivaled by..
Hangout: WHEN: May 16-18 WHERE: Gulf Shores, AL
You can join 35,000 other people on the beach of Gulf, Shores, Alabama to see 70 bands that will rock (and I mean rock) your world. Outkast (again), Needtobreathe, Queens of the Stone Age, Fitz & The Tantrums, Childish Gambino, Bastille, Moon Taxi (woo hoo Moon Taxi!), Shakey Graves, Wild Cub, Bastille, The Black Keys…and y’all….THE KILLERS. Oh. My. Word. Fortunately, this one will stream on MTV.com, and I will be tuning in for sure. I will, however, miss the chance to eat fried shrimp at Sea-N-Suds, home of the do-it-yourself cocktail sauce.
If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest over the 4th of July, you might want to check out the Sasquatch! Music Festival, founded in 2002. There are five main stages (one of the stages is actually a tent dedicated primarily to electronic music). Washington State is a beautiful place, but my Washingtonian friend informed me that the weather is still iffy that time of year; it could be nice, or it could be an all-out mud-fest. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but if it’s anything like last year’s (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Youth Lagoon, Imagine Dragons, and Alt-J, to name a few), braving the rain might be a risk worth taking.
Wakarusa began in Lawrence, Kansas in 2004 and moved to its current location of Ozark, Arkansas in 2009. The website says that the word “Wakarusa” comes from Native American culture and means “a– deep” (I’m trying to keep this a PG-rated kinda post). Apparently, it refers to a river’s depth. Nonetheless, this festival features camping, recycling initiatives, six stages, and over 150 acts including, but not limited to (this a nod to my usual lawyer-speak) Bassnectar, Dr. Dog, jam-band heroes Umphrey’s McGee, Moon Taxi (man, they’re on their way to a busy summer!), Leagues (oh yeah), and one of my current favorites, J. Roddy Walston & The Business. I wonder how fast I can get to Arkansas….
A baby of the bunch, Governors Ball was founded in 2011. Held on Randall’s Island, this festival features an array of musical genres, food trucks, a silent disco, and lawn games. The lineup includes Outkast (surprise, surprise), Jack White, The Strokes (who haven’t performed live together since November 2011), Phoenix, and Lucius (I just squealed out loud). I’m sure it will be streamed live on the interwebs, so keep your eyes and ears open.
Bonnaroo is about a 20 minute drive from my house, but like Coachella, I participate by live-streaming. One of these days, I’m going to make it down there. It’s a yearly ritual; 150,000 festival-goers come the week of the festival, sometimes earlier, and our Wal-Marts roll out their red carpets. Bonnaroo, which began in 2002, derives its name from a Ninth Ward slang term, combining the french word for “good” (bon) and “the street” (rue), together meaning “the best on the streets.” It’s promoted as a sustainable festival, and it features camping, art, and multiple stages. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but if you are an Instagrammer like myself, follow Bonnaroo and check out the lineup clues posted every Tuesday and Thursday.
The second annual Firefly Music Festival, held in Dover, Delaware, has seven stages and promises 95 acts this year. Like Bonnaroo, Firefly is heavy on the camping vibe; the 30,000+ attendees can visit the free arcade tent and play video games, lounge in the Hammock Hangout, and even design their own pair of TOMS shoes. There are also fundraising events for St. Jude’s Music Gives, a festival partner. The lineup includes, and you probably aren’t going to believe this, Outkast (whaaat?), Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Young The Giant (whose second album will be released THIS Tuesday!!!), Phosphorescent (whose “Song for Zula” just tears me up when I hear it), Saints Of Valory, Jake Bugg, and throwback to my adolescence, Third Eye Blind. I hear it will be streamed on its own YouTube channel. I’m not going to miss this one.
Also a young festival, Electric Forest (formerly known as the Rothbury Festival) formally debuted in 2011, and features an array of electronic acts and jam bands for its attendees. While I’m not an avid listener of those genres, I am intrigued by the Electric Forest concept; 50,000+ folks converge in a forest in Michigan, for a most psychedelic experience. Ambience is the focus here, with brightly colored lights washing over and enveloping the tall trees, with plenty of fire-dancing and hula-hooping to watch. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but last year’s flavors included Passion Pit, Yeasayer, electro-DJ genius Robert DeLong, and Umphrey’s McGee.
Lollapalooza, along with Hordefest and the Lillith Fair, were the first music festivals I can remember. Created by Perry Ferrell of Jane’s Addiction in 1991, it toured around every summer until 1997, disappeared for a while, and was then revived in 2003. No longer a traveling road show, the festival made Chicago its home in 2005. Boasting over 160,000 attendees last year, Lollapalooza fans can enjoy attractions such as an onsite Farmers’ Market, a fair for artisan goods, awareness-focused tents hosting some of the world’s best charitable organizations, and even Kidzapalooza, a festival within the festival for the kiddos. While Lollapalooza used to cater towards the heavy metal/punk/hard rock crowd, last year’s lineup included The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Beach House, The Killers (swoon), and Ellie Goulding. This year’s lineup hasn’t been announced yet, so stay tuned!
Over 150 acts perform on 8 stages at ACL every year. This festival, named after the PBS television series, was created in 2002. Daily attendance is capped at 75,000, with a total attendance of 225,000. Everything’s bigger in Texas, you know. This year’s lineup hasn’t been announced yet, and the festival planners are holding a contest for fan input to choose the headliners. Past acts include Muse, Kings of Leon, country star Eric Church, Arctic Monkeys, greaser J.D. McPherson, Walk the Moon, and Jimmy Eat World. ACL streams live on YouTube.
Last on this list, but certainly not least, is the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, held around Halloween for the last 15 years in NOLA, and is known for creating a schedule offering high-profile internationally known acts as well as regional Louisiana ones. There doesn’t seem to be camping here, and while I love love love New Orleans, camping might be a little scary anyway. This city knows how to host a party though, and there are plenty of hotel accommodations to be had. While the website is relatively enigmatic, I’m sure once the lineup is announced, it will make more sense. The 2013 schedule included Pearl Jam, The Cure, Paramore, and Louisiana faves like The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dr. John, and Leslie Blackshear Smith & Double Black Featuring Simon Lott, DJ Raymond, Shawn Theriot, Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, Tim Green, Ivan Neville, Kiki Phillips, Mehnaz Hoosein
& Erica Falls. Honestly, I’ve never heard of the last grouping of performers, but it’s the longest group list for a band I’ve ever seen, and I thought it was funny.
There are so many festivals to enjoy this year. This is only a small list of some hosted in the U.S., but there are so many more here and all over the world to learn about. I’d love to know which ones are your favorites!