The Grammys might not be until Sunday, but music lovers’ sights are already set on the next big thing: summer music festivals.
While it’s far from the summer, it’s never too early to start dreaming. Austin’s South by Southwest starts in a month, with Coachella and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival not far behind. Meanwhile, Washington state’s Sasquatch! Music Festival released its lineup earlier this week, setting the stage for speculation about which artists could tour the major festivals this year.
While tickets to such events can be a little pricey — Sasquatch ranks among the most expensive, with a four-day pass well over $300 — students like University of Washington junior Kellen Brumbaugh, of Kenmore, Wash., who plans to attend his fourth Sasquatch this May, say the festivals are worth the cost, even on a tight student budget.
“Sasquatch offers four days of some of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” Brumbaugh said. “The amount of money spent per artist I see is considerably less than what I would have to pay for each show at local venues. I’ll continue to go every year for as long as I can.”
Below are some of the most popular music festivals across the country:
Music fans gather to hear rapper Kendrick Lamar at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tenn., June 7, 2012.
• South By Southwest – March 12-17
Austin’s South By Southwest — usually abbreviated SXSW — is not just dedicated to music, with separate conferences for music, film and what organizers call “interactive.” On the music side of the festival, over 2,000 performers, ranging from the large to the very small, fill a variety of venues. While attending official SXSW events is expensive, many festivalgoers visit Austin anyway for the performances that bands put on outside festival grounds. Some of this year’s most recognized artists include Major Lazer, Cold War Kids and Third Eye Blind.
• Coachella – April 12-14, 19-21
Taking place over two weekends, Coachella typically features a mix of well-known headliners with smaller bands that have yet to get their big break. Located in the desert of Coachella Valley, attendees must battle temperatures well over 100 degrees during the day while camping out on the festival grounds in tents or cars at night. This year’s headliners include the Stone Roses, Blur, Phoenix and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with each weekend’s lineup identical.
• New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – April 26-28, May 2-5
Jazz Fest for short, New Orleans’ spring festival aims to showcase local culture through a variety of cuisine, crafts and music. Located only 10 minutes from the city’s historic French Quarter, Jazz Fest’s musical portion includes all the styles of music traditionally associated with the region, both contemporary and modern. While multiple-day tickets come in relatively less expensive compared to some of the other festivals on this list, there is no on-site campground, forcing festivalgoers to find lodging at a local hotel. This year’s lineup includes Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthew Band, Maroon 5 and Grammy nominee Frank Ocean.
• Sasquatch! – May 24-27
Held in eastern Washington state, Sasquatch takes place at a concert venue many have described as one of the most beautiful in the world. Taking place over Memorial Day Weekend (plus the Friday before), Sasquatch-goers usually sleep in tents or cars at an on-site campground. The lineup usually features a mix of bands from the Pacific Northwest, a trend seen again this year with the inclusion of Seattle-bred Macklemore & Ryan Lewis among this year’s headliners. Others include Mumford and Sons, The xx, The Postal Service and Vampire Weekend.
• Bonnaroo – June 13-16
Bonnaroo takes place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. The four-day festival, with ticket prices of the past usually registering in the mid-$200 range, is home to over 10 venues that usually see a full lineup of bands each day. Like most other festivals, Bonnaroo offers on-site tent, car or RV camping, and asks its attendees to follow the Bonnaroovian Code to provide the optimal experience. The lineup announcement is expected soon, with some music blogs already reporting fake lineup posters — previous headliners have included Radiohead, The Roots and Bon Iver.
• Lollapalooza – Aug. 2-4
As organizers note on the festival’s website, there is no camping available for Lollapalooza due to its location in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park. Still, the festival’s prime location only serves to draw more concertgoers, with official estimates of more than 160,000 attendees over the span of three days. While an announcement of which bands will attend may be far up, the lineup typically includes some of the biggest names in music: MGMT, Coldplay, Arcade Fire and Lady Gaga have all performed at Lollapalooza in previous years.
• Outside Lands – Aug. 9-11
Another festival that takes place in an iconic location is San Francisco’s Outside Lands, which takes place the second weekend of August in the city’s Golden Gate Park. No on-site lodging is available — with the exception of expensive VIP cabanas — but that hasn’t hurt the relatively young festival, which saw around 50,000 attendees each day when it began in 2008. Outside Lands hasn’t had any trouble attracting top-rate bands, either, with Muse, Metallica and the Strokes among the many bands that have performed in years past. Expect the lineup mid-April.
• Electric Zoo – Aug. 30 – Sept. 1
One of two festivals closing out the summer, Electric Zoo is held over Labor Day weekend in New York’s Randall’s Island Park. As the name implies, Electric Zoo features all types of electronic music and has grown rapidly since its start in 2009, winning International Dance Music Awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In its four years, the festival has seen some of the genre’s most popular artists including Deadmau5, David Guetta, Skrillex and Avicii.
• Bumbershoot – Aug. 31 – Sept. 2
Seattle’s Bumbershoot — which gets its name for a colloquial term for umbrella, a poke at its host city’s rainy reputation — is held over Labor Day weekend at the 74-acre Seattle Center, in the shadow of the Space Needle. The area’s longest-running festival, Bumbershoot aims to showcase the region’s talent in the arts, with venues for theatre, dance, comedy and other mediums offering performances alongside musical acts. Previous lineups have usually drawn heavily on local talent, including Pacific Northwest favorites Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and the Decemberists.
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