With the Coachella Music and Arts Festival opening its gates just under two weeks ago to the Wayfarer and fedora-adorned LA crowd, so begins the most magical time of the year. Effortlessly trumping Christmas and even O-week, in all its sweaty, booze-soaked glory, summer music festivals are an experience unlike any other. Early tickets sales and lineups, which begin to be announced during the dreary doldrums of February and March, leave images of hula hoops and body paint dancing gleefully across music lovers’ prelim-filled minds. Summer Festival Season, and all the joy that it brings, is truly the light at the end of the long, monotonous Cornell winter.
The beginning of festival season brings with it great caution though; with ticket prices often in the triple-digits, one must take care to choose wisely among the ample amount of options that exist. Fear not, future festival-goer: We at The Sun are here to guide you and soon you too can rejoice in the transcendent bliss of Summer Festival Season.
Sasquatch! Music Festival
When: May 27-30
Where: The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash.
Why: With the bitter sting of finals still fresh in your mind, what better way to forget than to be engulfed in the astounding beauty of the outdoors? Crowned nine times the winner for Best Outdoor Music Venue, The Gorge Amphitheatre, where Sasquatch is held, provides those in attendance with sprawling, scenic views of the Colombia River and the Colombia Gorge Canyon. Headliners include the Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Wilco and The Flaming Lips, who graced Cornell last year with an elaborate dose of psychedelics and theatrics. Sasquatch excels at having one of the strongest and most diverse collection of mid-tier bands around, with artists ranging from indie-favorites Beach House, Sleigh Bells and Wolf Parade to the campy electrofunk of Chromeo. With the likes of Bassnectar, Skrillex, Major Lazer and MSTRKRFT performing throughout the weekend, festival-goers won’t be lacking for dance-inducing bangers. If you find yourself on the West Coast make sure to make the trek to the gorge, located just a few hours away from the Meccas of hipsterdom, Seattle and Portland.
Pitchfork Music Festival
When: July 15-17
Where: Union Park in Chicago, Ill.
Why: Put on by the indie-music website Pitchfork.com, as famous for its content as it is for its overwrought pretentiousness, Pitchfork Music Festival has graced Chicago with its presence for the last six years. This year’s lineup is packed with the crème da la crème of the indie music world, featuring the likes of Animal Collective, James Blake, Fleet Foxes, Destroyer, Toro Y Moi, TV on the Radio and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Kurt Vile is another must-see act, delivering a strong third-album this year filled with beautifully played guitar melodies and visceral, self-effacing lyrics. How to Dress Well, part of the new wave of lo-fi R&B groups that have swept the blogosphere this year, will be an interesting show to catch thanks to their reverb-heavy slow jams. Pitchfork will also be the site of reunions: alcohol-fueled indie-rock legends Guided by Voices and funk-punk, agitprop pioneers The Dismemberment Plan will be putting on what are sure to be blisteringly good performances. Although three-day passes sold out in less than one day, one-day passes are thankfully still available. If you are able to snag a ticket to the festival, make sure to don your tightest skinny jeans and look as aloof and jaded as possible.
When: July 7-9
Where: Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, N.Y.
Why: This seems to be the year for 10-year anniversaries, with Camp Bisco also celebrating the big 1-0. Camp Bisco is the Northeast’s largest electronic-rock festival and was founded by jam band the Disco Biscuits, who will be performing all three nights. The Disco Biscuits will be joined by Cut Copy, celebrating the worldwide success of their most recent album Zonoscope, as well as Ghostland Observatory, Rusko, Lotus, Wolfgang Gartner, Nero and Emancipator. The aforementioned Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, MSTRKRFT, Skrillex and Neon Indian will be melting faces at Bisco as well. With all-night dance parties, silent rave competitions and some seriously crazy light shows (not to mention the diehard, dance-ready fans who make the trek to upstate New York every year), this festival is not for the faint of heart, but if synthy-beats and all things wobble bass strike your fancy, then this is definitely the festival for you.
When: August 5-7
Where: Grant Park in Chicago, Ill.
Why: Lollapalooza is the granddaddy of contemporary music festivals, celebrating its 20th year this August. Created in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza has mutated into an entirely different beast since then. This year’s lineup, released just days ago, demonstrates that Lollapalooza is moving towards a more commercial and, in this writer’s opinion, a more confused direction than in prior years. Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Muse will sell tickets nonetheless, with My Morning Jacket, Deadmau5 and A Perfect Circle comprising the second-tier of headliners. Acts such as Deftones, Crystal Castles and Damien Marley & Nas should put on high energy shows, with the previously mentioned Sleigh Bells and Best Coast providing some indie-sensibilities for the festival. Perry’s Stage, which plays host to Lolla’s electronic DJs and MCs, will be performed on by Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, Kid Cudi, The Bloody Beetroots, Afrojack and Skrillex, among others this year. Although crowds are often unruly and the weather can get sweltering, the 360° degree view of Chicago’s gorgeous skyline is reason enough to attend.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
When: June 9-12
Where: Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tenn.
Why: Celebrating ten years of musical mischief and magic, Bonnaroo is widely considered to be the one of the premier music and art festivals in the world. Deriving its name from Louisiana slang, Bonnaroo means “a really good time” and the festival certainly lives up to its namesake. Headliners Eminem, Widespread Panic and Arcade Fire are likely to bring an eclectic assortment of fans, with classic acts rounding out the bill such as Buffalo Springfield and New Orleans blues and R&B legend Dr. John performing his 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo. Recent Album of the Year award winner Arcade Fire is a must-see act, consistently providing audiences with a performance bordering on religious experience. Those hoping to hear some superb guitar licks need look no further than The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket and Mumford & Sons, who even throw an expertly played banjo into the mix. The late night Superjam is an annual tradition and fan favorite, this year featuring Dr. John and Black Key’s frontman Dan Auerbach. Whether catching a show by The Strokes, Florence + the Machine, gypsy punk rockers Gogol Bordello, Beirut, Best Coast or The Walkmen, taking a ride on the ferris wheel or dancing the day away at The Silent Disco, Bonnaroo will definitely be a weekend to remember.
Governor's Ball Music Festival
When: June 18
Where: Governors Island in New York, N.Y.
Why: Governors Ball provides the perfect taste of the festival experience for those with only a day to spare. Located conveniently in New York City and with tickets at less than a hundred dollars, it is an affordable alternative to the empty-wallet syndrome many face after returning home from a music festival. Featuring eleven different acts, Governors Ball also provides the luxury of no overlapping sets, so those in attendance need not fret over which artist to go to. The headliners this year are compromised of electronic heavyweights Girl Talk, Pretty Lights and Empire of the Sun. Girl Talk, famous for inciting riotous dance parties all across America with his expertly mixed mash-ups, will surely bring the fun. Both Pretty Lights and Empire of the Sun are great live shows, with Empire of the Sun employing theatrics and elaborate costumes that seem truly out of this world. For those more partial to hip-hop, Big Boi, People Under the Stairs and up-and-coming alt-rap bro Mac Miller will also be performing, while Neon Indian provides his cool blend of lo-fi, chillwave.