It took Dylan Bliss and his friends more than 25 hours to drive from Lincoln, Neb. to the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Wash. in 2011. He was stuck in the head 17 times by a crowd surfer (or a giant balloon thrown by the Flaming Lips) and didn’t get a single solid night of sleep for five days.
All those moments were part of an unforgettable week, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior remembered recently. He, along with 30,000 other campers, was able to see dozens of bands, including Beach House, Cold War Kids and Foo Fighters, all in one place.
“It’s quite possibly the best vacation possible for a real music lover,” Bliss said.
With many festivals announcing lineups and tickets going on sale this month, it’s not too early to start your festival plans. Ticket prices go up as the festivals get closer, so it’s especially important for cash-strapped college students to get an early start.
Here’s a look at the major festivals around the country that students might want to start saving for:
• Big names: Fiona Apple, Citizen Cope, John Mayer
• Tickets: Full festival badge: $750, individual show prices vary.
• Website: www.sxsw.com
During the day, thousands of festival attendees take part in the SXSW Trade Show, but at night, SXSW showcases about 2,000 musical acts from more than 50 different countries. Visitors also get a chance to check out different venues, with the bands playing on more than 90 stages in downtown Austin.
SXSW is also a chance for those interested in other aspects of the music industry to network, said Michael Todd, who attended the festival in 2010 when he was a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“As a music journalist, South by Southwest is a meetup of nearly every important writer,” Todd said. “It’s where all my business cards will find a home.”
And, he added, he was able to see 40 bands in three days.
• Big names:Black Keys, Radiohead, Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, Bon Iver, M83
• Tickets: Full passes are sold out, but dedicated and Internet-savvy students should be able to track some down.
• Website: coachella.com
Officially known as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, this California festival is held at the Indio Polo Club and plays its desert vibe to the hilt. Famously inspired by a Pearl Jam concert in 1993, the two-weekend extravaganza features continuous music on multiple stages and sizzling daytime temperatures.
If you plan to go, be prepared for the heat and a dizzying array of indie, hip-hop, world music and mainstream artists.
• Big names: Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, Girl Talk, The Roots
• Tickets: $315 for four-day admission.
• Website: Sasquatch Music Festival Official
Tickets for the Sasquatch Music Festival, held at the Gorge Amphitheatre, went on sale last week. Bliss plans on attending this year and bringing as many friends as he can, he said.
“It’s an amazing outlet for music discovery and community,” Bliss said. “I didn’t know who Foster the People were when I went last year. There’s lots of culture, too. Plus, the drive is unbelievably scenic.”
• Big names: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Beach Boys, Skrillex
• Big names: $234-259 for four-day admission. Tickets go on sale Saturday, Feb. 18th.
• Big names: Bonaroo 2012
Bonnaroo, a four-day camping festival held on a 700-acre farm, released its lineup Feb. 14 and features a wide array of musical acts.
Keeley Warren, an American student studying at the University of Belgrano in Argentina, was able to find five or six good concerts everyday when she went in the festival in 2009.
“Bonnaroo seems to always get great lineups, so I feel like you get your money’s worth,” Warren said. She added that most of the 80,000 attendees camp, which adds to the experience.
“Bonnaroo wouldn’t be the same without the camping,” Warren said. “It’s more of a group experience. I remember thinking that I would be willing to pay the price of the ticket just to be able to hang out with the people we camped next to.”
• Website: Lollapalooza.com
The grandaddy of all music festivals. Though the lineup for 2012 has yet to be announced, music lovers everywhere should pencil this weekend into their calendars. No true music fan should deprive themselves of seeing the festival that started it all at least once.
The 2011 lineup was topped by Eminem and the Foo Fighters and featured an amazing variety of performers.
For a comprehensive lineup of US Festivals, check out this page.
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