After a strong season kick off with SXSW, this year is set up to be the best festival season yet.
I will never forget my first music festival experience. Let me set the scene: late summer of 2010, with the Rocky Mountains framing the 360-degree view right outside of Denver, Colorado. There was an invigorating and intoxicating pulse that beat through the crowds of people. The Mile High Music Festival completely shattered my expectations in the best way possible.
Live music has been the only part of the music industry that has remained consistent. It gives the artists a way to actually make money from their music, and reach a wide fan base (given the right circumstances). Music festivals have only rose in popularity since Woodstock…where else could you see so many of your favorite artists in one place?
With more and more music festivals saturating the live music scene, I have come up with a simple guide to help you navigate choosing which festivals to attend this year.
- Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival: (June 8-11, Manchester, TN) I have to be honest here-this festival is not for the faint of heart. Tennessee summers are notoriously humid and miserably hot, and spending four days in all of that goodness can contribute to some serious delirium. IF you can make it past the heat and drink lots of water, this music festival is worth your while. The lineup includes heavy-hitters like U2, Chance the Rapper, and Cage the Elephant alongside equally amazing artists like Aaron Lee Tasjan and Joeseph. Only an hour outside of Nashville, you never know who’s going to show up to this music festival.
- Austin City Limits: (October 6-8, October 13-15, Austin, TX) This festival is for the laid-back city dwellers. Austin is one of the most interesting towns in the USA, with an incredible melting pot of people. SXSW week feels like a tease for this two-weekend music festival in October. The weather is perfect, the music is amazing, and the city is just waiting to be explored. While the lineup hasn’t been released yet, there are some pretty incredible rumors going around…names like Gorillaz, Coldplay, and Major Lazer. We are all anticipating a strong two-weekend lineup for this fall festival.
- Hangout Festival: (May 19-21, Gulf Shores, AL) The beach, the sand, and a beautiful blue ocean? Yes, please. This festival has created a beautiful backdrop to listen to your favorite bands while enjoying a beach vacation. This year, they have pulled out all the stops with artists like Weezer, Local Natives, and Frank Ocean…the festival is worth the trek to Gulf Shores, AL. Soak up some sun and feel the sand on your skin, all while listening to your favorite bands pull off an incredible music set.
- Coachella Music and Arts Festival: (April 14-16, April 21-23, Indio, CA) This festival has always pushed the limits on what you can actually cram into two weekends of music. With so many artists living in the LA area, there is never a short supply of incredible headliners…this year, Beyoncé, Lorde, Bon Iver, and many others will take the stage both weekends. Coachella also showcases an impressive amount of indie artists and bands that prove to have incredible potential to break through another level of stardom. Coachella quite a reputation for creating once-in-a-lifetime moments, making this festival a must-attend.
- Beale Street Music Festival//Memphis in May International Festival: (May 5-7, Memphis, TN)This music festival is for the eclectic…if you constantly find your Spotify playlist scattered across genres, this music festival experience is the one to choose. The lineups are always impressively random, and this year has once again delivered: Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, Death Cab for Cutie, Tori Kelly, Ziggy Marley, Soundgarden…every genre is well-represented. With the Memphis skyline in the background and the sounds of Sun Records drifting through the streets, this music festival will definitely be one for the books.
There are so many other music festivals mentioning here: Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL), Shaky Knees (Atlanta, GA), Sasquatch (George, WA), Firefly (Dover, DE), Newport Folk Festival (Newport, RI)…it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of the new festivals that have continued to appear across the country.
My greatest advice to any new music festivalgoers: do your research! Take the time to look into each music festival, make a schedule of the bands you want to see. With so many options, it’s easy to get lost in the mix of all of the wonderment! Most importantly, immerse yourself in the unforgettable music experience.
Happy music festival season, everyone!