May 2, 2012

Musical Nirvana: A Preview of Summer Music Festivals

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As another semester on the hill swiftly comes to a close, the promise of summer and all of its carefree, sun-drenched wonderment looms large on the horizon. Although the campus may be bogged down by the mounting dread of impending exams and real-life responsibilities, Slope Day grants us a brief but glorious interlude — music, good times and some well-deserved mischief are the rule, and we students are always more than happy to comply. As the sun sets over the slope Friday evening, through hazy minds and pounding headaches many of us will sigh and think, “I cannot wait until next year.” But, worry not, Sun reader! You need not wait until next year for that magical blend of live music, good cheer and the intoxicating influence of sunshine and a substance or two. Summer is upon us, and with it, the beginning of the music festival season. For up to four days at a time, the essence of Slope Day is replicated on an exponential scale all over the United States, with musical titans of such acclaim and talent that they make Taio Cruz look like, well …Taio Cruz. With the Sun’s summer music festival preview as your guide, place a flower in your hair and go in search of whatever musical nirvana awaits you.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June 7-10 at Great Stage Park in Manchester, TN: For more than 10 years now, Bonnaroo has dominated the American music festival scene, tantalizing young and old alike to journey to the back-roads of Tennessee for a weekend full of sunburnt, unbridled joy. This year an 80,000 strong crowd will battle painfully long entrance lines and the unrelenting 100°F heat, knowing that it’s well worth it to experience the otherworldly magic infused in every inch of the site’s 700 acres. Somehow, the organizers have managed to book a lineup that’s even better than last year’s. This year’s bill is a perfect blend of massive headliners, up-and-coming artists and an incredible mid-tier roster to keep everybody dancing. No matter the genre, Roo seems to have it covered: there are enough big names (Radiohead, RHCP, Phish and the Beach Boys), indie stars (Bon Iver, St. Vincent, Tune-Yards and Phantogram), hip-hop heavyweights (The Roots, Black Star and Ludacris) folk favorites (Avett Brothers and Kenny Rogers) and electronic DJs (Skrillex, SBTRKT and Major Lazer) to keep any and every fan satisfied.

The Governors Ball Music Festival, June 23-24, Randall’s Island in New York, NY: For the first time ever, Governors Ball will be expanding to a two-day event, promising double the fun for all of those in attendance. With twice the acts, the Ball still offers the luxury of no overlapping sets, so thankfully festival-goers can check their FOMO at the door. With a stacked lineup comprised of 26 must-see acts, Saturday will bring the fun with an EDM and hip-hop heavy schedule, while Sunday’s more mellow, largely indie-inclined bill should provide a much needed dose of chill. Notable acts on Saturday include Chromeo, Atmosphere, Passion Pit and Santigold, with Beck, Built to Spill, Cults and Devandra Banhart bringing up the rear on Sunday. With such a stellar range of talent and the rare opportunity to never have to choose between shows, missing any of these performances would border on the criminal.

Electric Forest, June 28-July 1, Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI: Initially named Rothbury Festival when it ran for two summers in 2008 and 2009, after a hiatus in 2010 the Electric Forest festival returned last summer with a new name, but the same good-hearted mission and lively spirit. With a lineup centered on jam bands by day and an electronic-infused roster by night, Electric Forest provides enough positive vibes and booming beats to satisfy hippies and basshead alike. At the center of the festival, both literally and figuratively, is the magical world of Sherwood Forest — filled with secret gardens, art showcases and many a hammock to rest in, at night the forest comes alive with jaw-dropping light displays and surprises at every turn. When it comes to creating a completely immersive, fantastical environment, Electric Forest is heads above the competition, with theatrics unrivaled by even the blockbuster American festivals. This year’s lineup features three shows by The String Cheese Incident and 2 shows by STS9, as well as performances by Thievery Corporation, Bassnectar, Girl Talk, Ghostland Observatory, 12th Planet, Borgore and Mimosa, among others. Surrender yourself to the forces of Sherwood Forest, and good times will surely follow.

Pitchfork Music Festival, July 13-15, Union Park in Chicago, IL: Pitchfork has long been an institution in the indie music world, celebrated by some as a definitive tastemaker and discounted by others as self-important hipster scum. Regardless of where you stand on the website’s merits, or lack thereof, when it comes to their annual music festival in Chicago, Pitchfork is definitely doing something right. Rejecting the unsettling trend in recent years of skyrocketing ticket prices, Pitchfork Music Festival still maintains its goal of providing avid fans with an affordable, positive festival experience centrally premised on a mutual love of music. With a three-day pass costing a mere $110 and individual day passes at just $45, one can pick and choose which days to attend without worrying about breaking the bank. Many of the website’s favorites comprise the lineup this year, including Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Real Estate, Sleigh Bells, Dirty Projectors and Hot Chip. Up and coming artists such as A$AP Rocky, Nicolas Jaar and Grimes round up the bill, ensuring that many a PBR-drinking, skinny-jean wearing soul will be pleased.

Lollapalooza, August 3-August 5, Grant Park in Chicago, IL: In recent years, many have lamented that Lollapalooza has lost its credibility. The combination of overpriced tickets, a pop-heavy lineup that draws unsettling crowds and the expansion of the festival grounds to almost unnavigable proportions led many to believe that founder Perry Farrell has lost sight of the music and become just another greedy, capitalistic drone. The release of the 2012 lineup laid accusations temporarily to rest, with a return to the eclectic mix of acts big and small that initially made Lollapalooza so great. The headliners alone will make any fan of rock-and-roll go weak in the knees, with RHCP, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath and a solo Jack White shining atop the bill. Many of the biggest names from 2012 will also grace Grant Park with their talents, including M83, Avicii, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Justice, Florence + The Machine and Madeon, among many illustrious others. With tickets going at record speed, be sure to grab one while you still can. Set to the glorious backdrop of Chicago’s iconic skyline and the shores of Lake Michigan, Lolla’s return to grace will surely be one to remember.

Electric Zoo, August 31-September 2, Randall’s Island Park in New York, NY: Since 2009, Electric Zoo has beckoned ravers the world over to take part in what is the biggest Labor Day party around. The festival offers up acts that run the gauntlet of all of electronic music’s many different styles and subgenres, with house, trance and dubstep all accounted for. During each of the weekend’s three days, festival-goers can push their bodies to the limit, with 12 relentless hours of music transforming Randall’s Island into one big, beautiful dance floor. This year’s lineup is as consistent as ever, with what seems like every big name in the EDM movement included in the bill. Titans such as David Guetta, Tiesto, Benny Bennassi and Above & Beyond will headline, while party favorites Dada Life, Bingo Players, Steve Aoki, Wolfgang Gartner, Knife Party and Bloody Beetroots will make your ears bleed, but only in the best way possible. Toss in recent Grammy winner Skrillex, everyone’s favorite DJ to both love and hate, and Electric Zoo really is a snapshot of who’s who in the electronic world. If you still have any energy left over after the non-stop mayhem of O-week, then break out the glowsticks and neon pacifiers and throw caution to the wind at Electric Zoo.

Original Author: Sarah Angell