Hey music fans!
Chances are you’re going to have some downtime this summer. Want your stories to rock when you get back to school in the fall, instead of the same old, “I worked/interned/volunteered/watched TV/played video games” routine? To be honest, everyone does, and that’s why the music gods invented a wonderful thing called music festivals. Thousands of music lovers come together every summer to enjoy band after band after band, in what comes to feel like a weekend-long party.
However, music festivals are expensive, hard to choose from, and sometimes confusing to keep track of, so here’s a guide to which music festivals you should keep an eye out for this summer.
Looking to Jam Out?
- Name: Lollapalooza
- Place: Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois
- Dates: August 2nd -4th
The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Lollapalooza is a music festival that will never disappoint. To get a feel for what kind of music they’ll be presenting, here are a few bands who appeared last year: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, Bassnectar, Passion Pit, Fun., Of Monsters and Men, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Walkmen, and more. Hungry? Visit Chow Town, a place where all of Chicago’s favorite restaurants come to set up shop and serve to the Lolla crowd. Remember to bring an appetite!
Music History Nerds Rejoice!
- Name: Newport Folk Festival
- Place: Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island
- Dates: July 26th – 28th
For those who like their music festivals to come with a little history, consider Newport Folk Festival. Founded in 1959 by George Wein, the festival is known for introducing new folk acts to the scene, like, well…. Joan Baez. And Bob Dylan. You know, small stuff. This year the lineup includes more rising acts, for example: The Felice Brothers, who came to prominence after opening for Mumford & Sons on their “Gentlemen of the Road” tour. Or Jim James, former lead singer of My Morning Jacket – who just released his first solo album this year. Of course, there are seminal acts, like folk rock band The Mountain Goats, who have been playing and performing for over 20 years , as well as overnight sensations like The Lumineers.
“I Don’t Have a Favorite Genre”
- Name: Bonnaroo
- Place: Manchester, Tennessee
- Dates: June 13-16
If you are the type of person that, when someone asks you what music you like, you respond with, “A little bit of everything!” - this festival is for you. Bonnaroo features the most diverse range of genres from indie rock to hip hop, jazz to gospel, reggae to electronica, and more. Headlining the festival this year is Paul McCartney, followed by Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Björk. Bonnaroo actually has so many notable acts in their lineup that we would run out of room here if I were to list them all. However, some upcoming acts to keep in mind would be the English indie rock band, Alt-J, LA based folk band Milo Greene, classic rock band ZZ Top, or revolutionary rap group The Wu-Tang Clan. Or maybe, you’re in the mood for comedy, in which case you’re covered there too. Daniel Tosh, host of the controversial television show Tosh.O, will be present, as will “Weird Al” Yankovic. See? Bonnaroo offers many options that sometimes it might even be hard to choose whom to see next.
“I Don’t Have A Favorite Band”
- Name: Boston Calling Music Festival
- Place: City Hall Plaza, Boston, Massachusetts
- Dates: May 25th and 26th
Finally, Boston has a music festival to call its own! The Boston Calling Festival, a smaller, two day festival, takes place a little earlier than most, on May 25th and 26th. Planned to take place in City Hall Plaza, the lineup is small, but packs a punch featuring bands like Fun., The Shins, Marina and the Diamonds, Matt & Kim, The National, Of Monsters and Men, Young the Giant, Andrew Bird, and more. The unique thing about this festival is that the organizers promise no overlapping acts. That’s right – at other music festivals (ahem- Bonnaroo?), fans are sometimes given soul-crushing ultimatums: “Should I see my favorite band, or my other favorite band?” At Boston Calling, however, there will be no such worry.
Walking the Line Between Mainstream and Indie
- Name: The Governor’s Ball Music Festival
- Place: Randall’s Island, NYC
- Dates: June 7th – 9th
Want to take a break from hopping from show to show? Visit the Silent Disco, where everyone wears wireless headphones that play music from live DJs, allowing dances to their own beat. So far, this is the only music festival to my knowledge that features something like this. With this, and the lineup of bands that may make your head spin, this is one festival I advise creating a theoretical lineup for (available on the festival website) in order to keep you day(s) straight!
Looking to Create an Experience?
- Name: Firefly Music Festival
- Place: Dover, Delaware
- Dates: June 21-23
Another relatively new music festival, Firefly will be embarking on its second year with what I think is the most impressive lineup so far. Appearing as headliners of the festival are Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. But what really makes this festival are the artists keeping its momentum going, like Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Avett Brothers, Grizzly Bear, The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Calvin Harris, MGMT, Ellie Goulding, Dispatch, Public Enemy, and Dr. Dog, among many others.
In addition, Firefly works hard to create an “experience” that you will never forget. On the festival grounds, you can find an arcade that features vintage arcade games and the “Toms: Style Your Sole” booth, where you can buy a pair of Toms and work with expert artists to customize your pair. Afraid of getting tired in the summer sun? You can visit the Hammock Hangout, nestled in the forest surrounding the festival and designed to make sure you get some shade. Waiting in between acts in the evening? Firefly features “The Pathway”, a forest clearing that features lighting and video displays after the sun goes down, which their website claims “will put your neighborhood Christmas-lighting enthusiast to shame."
For Those Looking to Discover New Music
- Name: Pitchfork
- Place: Union Park, Chicago, Illinois
- Dates: July 19-21
All Pop-Punk, All the Time
- Name: Vans Warped Tour
- Place: Everywhere!
- Dates: Middle of June through beginning of August
Madelyn Reese is a Freshman at Emerson College, majoring in Writing, Literature and Publishing. Her loves include her family, golden retriever, two cats, writing about and listening to music, coffee, tea, and writing lists.