2013 Music Festival Guide
Date: May 17 to 19
Location: Gulf Shores, Ala.
Driving Time: 24 hours
Headliners: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Who We’re Excited For: Galactic, Public Enemy, Moon Taxi, The Roots, Slightly Stoopid
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. It’s gonna get wild, but you might want to take a second to relax on the beach.
Hippie Mass Index: 50. Beachfront condos being the prime source of lodging drives up expense, reducing hippie viability, save for the trustafarians.
What It’s All About: Try to ignore the irony of BP sponsoring the kids’ stage at Hangout Fest on the gulf coast in Alabama, and focus on how cool the festival really is. The unique beachfront festival hosts roughly 35,000 attendees from all 50 states and 12 countries, making it one of the larger festivals this season. This said, it would behoove attendees to book lodging in advance because camping is not a possibility.
If the Festival Was a Drink: margarita
Date: May 24 to 27
Location: The Gorge in George, Wa.
Price: $337.50 before ticket fees
Driving Time: 18 hours
Headliners: Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service, Sigur Ros, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Vampire Weekend
Who We’re Excited For: The XX, Arctic Monkeys, Cake, Empire of the Sun, Imagine Dragons
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. Camping is on-site, and the sheer amount of amazing artists there make for a pretty incredible festival.
Hippie Mass Index: Low. While there are the occasional “I’m eating raw now” hippies, the hipster population is much better represented here.
What It’s All About: If indie is your thing, then Sasquatch! is your festival. Held at the Gorge in Washington, which is often cited as one of the best outdoor venues in the world, the main stage is set on the Columbia River, and headliners sing for miles into the surrounding hills. Every year Sasquatch brings out practically every touring indie band of the day, along with myriad rappers, comedians and DJs to keep you thoroughly entertained.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Gin and tonic. It’s not for everyone, but those who like it, love it.
Date: May 24 to 26
Location: Three Sisters Park, Chillicothe, Ill.
Driving Time: 14.5 hours
Headliners: Moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, STS9, The Avett Brothers
Who We’re Excited For: Thievery Corporation, Diplo, Break Science w/ Chali 2na, Sunsquabi, Medeski, Martin & Wood
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. It boasts a great lineup, but is a little more family oriented.
Hippie Mass Index: 50. Summer Camp’s lineup is rounded out to draw folks of all types.
What It’s All About: Held on Memorial Day weekend every year, Summer Camp is a decent-sized festival of around 15,000, drawing some bigger names. The festival, now going into its 13th year, has always featured its beloved moe. giving it three nights of play as well as Umphrey’s and two sets for Trey Anastasio Band, promoting a more jam-centric headline.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Long Island iced tea
Date: May 30 to June 2
Location: Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, Ark.
Price: $169 before ticket fees, camping sold separately
Driving Time: 12.5 hours
Headliners: Widespread Panic, Dispatch, The Black Crowes, Amon Tobin, Snoop Lion
Who We’re Excited For: Umphrey’s McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, STS9, Rebelution, Gogol Bordello
Rowdy Factor: 5/5 wristbands. Whatever party favors you need to properly celebrate a festival are readily available here.
Hippie Mass Index: High. Mostly a younger hippie crowd that illegitimately sells hippie crap like buttons, stickers or crystals to get by.
What It’s All About: Nestled at the base of a mountain, festival-goers camp on-site within a semi-circle of stages, all of which are within a 10-minute walk. The site is beautiful, and the crowd is young, fun loving and ready to get down into the late hours. The weather may be miserably hot, but there’s a river and a water slide if that’s more your style. The music is rock and jam heavy, but has plenty of EDM artists as well for when you need to get lost in some heady beats.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Whiskey Coke. Enjoyed by many but still packs a punch. Just be sure to pace yourself.
Date: June 13 to 16
Location: Manchester, Tenn.
Price: $269.50 for four days
Driving Time: 19 hours
Headliners: Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bjork, Wilco
Who We’re Excited For: Tame Impala, Four Tet, Rock N’ Soul Dance Party ft. Jim James, John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Wu Tang Clan, Reggie Watts
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. Bonnaroo has been bringing it for years now with a line-up that never disappoints and offers a little something for everyone.
Hippie Mass Index: 50. While all summer music fests draw their fair share of hippies, Bonnaroo’s wide appeal will bring out attendees ranging in all ages and lifestyles.
What It’s All About: Bonnaroo is the U.S. equivalent to the Glastonbury festival in England as far as sheer size and popularity. It showcases the more famous musicians, yet still books a range of artists from different genres. Bonnaroo also features top-notch comedians, interactive art exhibits and activities. The city-like populous and mainstream aspect of the festival can be a drawback for seasoned festies, but may be appealing for a first timer. Going into its 11th year, the festival organizers have had plenty of time to work out the kinks, making for a well-planned and coordinated festival.
If the Festival Was a Drink: mint julep
Date: June 20 to 23
Location: Telluride, Colo.
Price: sold out
Driving Time: 6.5 hours
Headliners: Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Dispatch, Mumford & Sons
Who We’re Excited For: Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Elephant Revival, Infamous Stringdusters, Trampled By Turtles
Rowdy Factor: 3/5 wristbands. Camping offsite can be inconvenient, and the main stage ends early. If you want to party late, you’ll have to pay extra for late-night tickets at venues around town.
Hippie Mass Index: Medium. It’s a more mature bluegrass crowd that still loves to party.
What It’s All About: It may be smaller, but it’s the crème de la crop for the bluegrass scene. This year the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with a line-up of Telluride legends. The setting is beautiful and the festivarians (those accustomed to the ways of Telluride Bluegrass) make it a fun and, at times, wacky experience.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Old scotch. Bluegrass is an acquired taste that becomes more refined over time.
Date: June 27 to 30
Location: Double JJ Resort, Rothbury, Mich.
Price: $259 for four days
Driving Time: 18.5 hours
Headliners: String Cheese Incident, Pretty Lights, Dispatch, Above & Beyond, Yeasayer
Who We’re Excited For: Empire of the Sun, SuckerPunch, Samo Sound Boy, A-trak, String Cheese Incident
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. The dreamy enchantment of Sherwood Forest mellows out the overt excitement
Hippie Mass Index: 60. Its size and abundance of electronic music mix up the crowd a bit.
What It’s All About: Originally billed as Rothbury and now Electric Forest, after some legal issues and a change in organizers, this festival is known for its visual wonders and fascinations in Sherwood Forest, a known spot for the festival’s artists to assimilate with fans, play impromptu sets and collaborate with other musicians. EF is known for stellar String Cheese sets and its ecologically conscious efforts. Those who have been hold a special place in their hearts for the festival.
If the Festival Was a Drink: mojito
Date: July 4 to 7
Location: Quincy, Calif.
Price: $187, goes up May 13
Driving Time: 16.5 hours
Headliners: Primus, Thievery Corporation, moe., Steel Pulse, Leftover Salmon
Who We’re Excited For: North Mississippi Allstars, White Denim, Emancipator, The John Scofield Uberjam Band, The Greyboy Allstars
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. The crowd has high camaraderie, (you may feel like you’re at home, even if it’s your first time) but music doesn’t go all night, and you have to buy separate late-night tickets.
Hippie Mass Index: High. Deadheads young and old, potentially with a small love-child running around.
What It’s All About: Set just north of Lake Tahoe, High Sierra is a community of fun-loving, music oriented hippies that leave all their troubles at the door. The vibe is relaxed and collaborative, don’t be surprised if you see an artist from the main stage sit in on a camp-fire jam.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Microbrew. It’s smaller and well put together, but can still get you drunk.
Date: July 11 to 13
Location: Indian Lookout Country Club, Mariahville, NY
Price: $185 for three-day pass
Driving Time: 28 hours
Headliners: Disco Biscuits, Animal Collective, Passion Pit, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Bassnectar
Who We’re Excited For: Bauuer, Flosstradamus, Koan Sound, Lotus, Ryan Hemsworth
Rowdy Factor: 5/5 wristbands. If you’ve ever seen the Disco Biscuits live you know how crazy its shows are, now multiply that times a large outdoor musical festival.
Hippie Mass Index: 75 out of 100. The festival brings up just enough ravers and college students from NYC and Philly to suppress the over hippitization.
What It’s All About: Party favors, loads of em’. Wookies drifting seamlessly in and out of K-holes will offer you them and then forget having ever met you and offer you some again. Don’t worry though, the Wookie is a peaceful and harmless creature. Besides what would you expect at a festival put on by a band who’s name is slang for ecstasy? The festival provides an incredible electronic line-up with some jam and a splash of hip-hop reflective of the Biscuits and its fans.
If The Festival Were a Drink: adios motherfucker
Date: July 19 to 21
Location: Union Park, Chicago
Price: $120 for three days
Driving Time: 15.5 hours
Headliners: R. Kelly, Bjork, Belle and Sebastian, MIA, Joanna Newsom
Who We’re Excited For: R. Kelly, Toro y Moi, Metz, Yo La Tengo, TNGHT
Rowdy Factor: 2/5 wristbands. The fact that it’s not a camping festival and everyone there used to dance before it was cool keeps it pretty mellow.
HMI: 25. Unless you want to get technical and argue that the term hippie derives from hipster, you’ll find more hipsters than hippies at Pitchfork.
What It’s All About: The famed Pitchfork music webzine has been putting on an annual music festival in Chi-town since ’06. Pitchfork is the critic’s critic when it comes to music and indie music in particular, a.k.a. its super-fucking hip. You might have to do some research on the artists playing because you hadn’t heard of most of them, but these guys know their music.
If the Festival Was a Drink: An esoteric microbrew with a shot of Mezcal.
Date: Sep. 9 to 11
Location: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Price: $215 before ticket fees
Driving Time: 18.5 hours
Headliners: Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch nails, Phoenix, Pretty Lights
Who We’re Excited For: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Jurassic 5, Grizzly Bear
Rowdy Factor: 3/5 wristbands. It’s a city festival and it can get over crowded, but that’s a pretty great crowd. There’s no camping, so you’re going to have to find somewhere to go and something to do when the music ends each night.
Hippie Mass Index: 45/100. It’s a mix of old San Francisco pot-head hippies and modern-day pot heads and art lovers.
What It’s All About: Outside Lands is nestled in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and is a celebration of the Bay Area’s culture and love of music. San Francisco has been a hippie haven since the ’60s, and just walking around you can breathe in the sub-culture and … herbal aroma. If you get bored of seeing some of the biggest names of the day, there’s still plenty to do, like art exhibits or wine and beer tasting.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Lemon drop. It’s trying to be sophisticated, but really it just says one thing: “I’m here to have a good time."
5 Within 5: Five Festivals Within Five Hours
Date: Aug. 14 to 18
Location: Sunrise Ranch, Loveland, Colo.
Driving Time: 1 hour or less
Headliners: Xavier Rudd, Keller and the Keels, Gregory Alan Isakov, Michael Menert, Zap Mama
Who We’re Excited For: Quixotic, The Motet, Toubab Krewe, Nico Luminous, Chali 2na
Rowdy Factor: 3/5 wristbands. Plenty of rowdiness as far as music goes, occasionally being quelled by the harmonious union of meditating and chanting yogis.
HMI: 90 out of 100. Electronic and eclectic world music, yoga, environmental activists, Loveland, need we go on?
What It’s All About: Arise is a brand-new event in a growing trend of festivals fusing art, music, yoga and inspirational/motivational speaking panels of overachieving activists who are making the world a better place, also making you wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. Do bring your yoga mat, progressive ideas and anything organic, but do not under any circumstances bring disposable plastic water bottles or anything containing GMOs.
If the Festival Was a Drink: Something with Yerba Mate in it.
Global Dance Festival
Date: July 19 to 21
Location: Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colo.
Price: $60 per night, three-day passes are sold out
Driving Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Headliners: Beats Antique, Savoy, Gramatik, Sander van Doorn, Kill Paris
Who We’re Excited For: Ott, Emancipator, MiMOSA, Signal Path, GRiZ
Rowdy Factor: 5/5 wristbands. It’s electronic music at Red Rocks
HMI: 25. With the exception of the more heady artists on the first night, Global tends to draw a more rave-oriented crowd.
What It’s All About: First started in ’99 as Rave on the Rocks featuring only Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers, the festival was then renamed as the Weekend of E before they realized that was a little too blatant. It has expanded significantly since the Triad Dragons took over promotion and changed the name to Global Dance Festival. Global brings a throng of amphetamine-fueled EDM fans between those red monoliths to see some of the most internationally famous DJ/producers blow their minds.
If the Festival Was a Drink: vodka lemonade
Date: June 13 to 16
Location: Shadows Ranch, Georgetown, Colo.
Price: $175 for three days
Driving Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Headliners: Opiuo, Vibesquad, Random Rab, The Polish Ambassador, Minnesota
Who We’re Excited For: Lynx, Russ Liquid, Desert Dwellers, Govinda, Phutureprimitive
Rowdy Factor: 4/5 wristbands. The fact that Sonic Bloom is a smaller festival keeps it from being über rowdy.
HMI: 95. The organizers’ off season indoor venue of choice is Cervantes if that says anything.
What It’s All About: You will most likely have some spiritual epiphany, be able to tell people what color their aura is and espouse a new identity under the name Moonbeam Rainbow-Hugger or something to that effect until the acid wears off. The Unified Field, promoters of SB, always assemble a great line-up of psychedelic electronic producers with great visual artists like Alex Grey and Android Jones.
If the Festival Was a Drink: corpse reviver No. 2
Campout for the Cause
Date: May 24 to 26
Location: Sate Bridge Amphitheater, Bond, Colo.
Price: $69 early bird before ticket fees, doesn’t include parking fees
Driving Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Headliners: Zion I, Marchfourth Marching Band, Govinda, Yamn, Mountain Standard Time
Who We’re Excited For: Grant Farm, Magic Beans, MTHDS, WhiteWater Ramble, The Congress
Rowdy Factor: 3/5 wristbands. The festival aims to be family friendly, which it is, but people are there to throw down as well.
HMI: Hippie Mass Index: 65/100. It’s the hippies that own a slackline and say namaste more than once a day.
What It’s All About: After burning down in 2007, the State Bridge Amphitheater came back with a vengeance in 2011 and has been hosting amazing, intimate festivals every since. The site’s small, lush and beautiful, and if you park down the road at the Rancho Del Rio compound you can roll out of your tent and cool off (or paddle board or raft) in the river. If you’re looking for a small, local, good-time festival, this is it.
If the Festival Was a Drink: bloody Mary. You did some partying, and you’re inconspicuously keeping it going.
Date: July 26 to 28
Location: Planet Bluegrass, Lyons, Colo.
Price: sold out
Driving Time: 30 minutes
Headliners: Del McCoury Band, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas & Friends, Sam Bush & Del McCoury, Carolina Chocolate Drops
Who We’re Excited For: Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys, Head for the Hills, The Kruger Brothers, The Steeldrivers, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band
Rowdy Factor: 1/5 wristbands. It’s a more respectful crowd that’s there for the music and not just to get ham boned, and it’s a family friendly affair.
HMI: Hippie Mass Index: 55/100. It’s mostly an older crowd that may have followed the Dead around back in the day, but doesn’t quite rage like it used to.
What It’s All About: Not a festival for the masses, Rocky Grass is one for the die-hard foot-stompin’, ramblin’ on bluegrass fan. Originally founded by the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe, Rocky Grass showcases the more traditional side of bluegrass. If you’ve never been to the Planet Bluegrass ranch in Lyons, then you should check it out. It’s a local gem of a venue that sits right on the sandy beaches of the St. Vrain River.
If the Festival Was a Drink: red wine. A bluegrass sommelier would really understand the complexity, but you can enjoy it if you’re a two-buck-chuck patron as well.—Dina Hood and Michael Chary