Summertime and the living is easy, for some of us. For others, summer is just a continuation of classes we don’t want to be taking or part time jobs we don’t want to be working. Regardless of where we each fall into the spectrum, most of us are a little less busy, a little more bored, and a lot more interested in finding things to do on those free summer days. A great place to go? Concerts!
Music festivals have taken today’s college culture by storm, and the great thing about these venues is that there is one for everyone, regardless of what musical genre you enjoy. From rock, to country, to jazz--- everyone can find their festival, and often without having to travel far at all. For your listening and partying pleasure, I’ve compiled my list of top festivals in our area. Start saving your hard-earned cash, because these are hard to pass up!
Bonnaroo, June 7-10: Located just outside of America’s country music headquarters of Nashville, Tennessee, Bonnaroo strays from the area’s usual music scene and instead brings in a crowd that seems to wish the year was still 1969. Hippies, if you will, come from across the country for the “greenest” festival in Tennessee, generating a crowd that usually tops 80,000 happy campers (literally, everyone camps.) This year’s headliners include the Kooks, Bon Iver, and Radiohead, but many of those who go to Bonnaroo are there to support the smaller acts as well, including Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Needtobreathe, and Foster the People this year. If jam bands and rock music aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Ludacris will be there too.
Summerfest, June 27-July 1, July 3-8: The world’s largest music festival marks its 45th anniversary this summer in Milwaukee, and has something for everyone--- be it great music, great food, shopping, or the countless attractions on the lake. I’ve been to Summerfest three times now and have seen acts such as Blink 182, Dashboard Confessional, and Kanye West. The variety of artists is unbelievable, and the outdoor lakeside atmosphere is hard to beat. The festival is made for all ages, with kids’ booths and play areas set up alongside beer gardens and tattoo shops. The lineup is filled with different artists from every genre imaginable, but this year’s top acts include Lady Antebellum, ZZ Top, Gavin DeGraw, The Avett Brothers, Death Cab for Cutie, Atmosphere, the Foo Fighters, and OAR. The craziest part is: that’s not all of them! Check out the lineup to see all the unbelievable acts scheduled to perform!
Pitchfork, July 13-15: If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream and more off the beaten track, Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival is home to over forty independent acts this summer. Covering three stages, Pitchfork will host Feist, Vampire Weekend, and Hot Chip this year as its headliners. Pitchfork is one of those festivals where lesser known bands really get their name and product out there- check out their website to hear some music you may not have been familiar with before!
Summer Camp Music Festival, May 25-27: “Scamp” is one of the area’s fastest growing music venues, in both attendance and its roster of artists. Summer Camp, like Bonnaroo, is one big weekend of camping under the moonlight and musical pleasure under the sun. This year’s festival features Primus, Zed’s Dead, and one of the first major electronic acts to go big, Pretty Lights.
Photo by Stephanie Kaiser
Country Thunder USA, July 19-22: I may be biased, as some of my favorite artists are performing at CT this year, but Country Thunder 2012 is every country fan’s dream. Four days of cowboy boots, pick up trucks, and, from what I’ve heard about years past, very unfortunate weather. However, any true country fan can get past the lack of sunshine and dance in the rain with acts like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, and Toby Keith headlining! These guys sure do sound and look good up there on stage!
Lollapalooza, August 3-5: The music festival to end all music festivals. You’d be hard-pressed to find a list, written by anyone, anywhere, of top music festivals that doesn’t include Chicago’s Lollapalooza. This year will be my first attending, and I couldn’t be more excited. Located in Grant Park, the festival brings out all the beauty of Chicago, and all the beauty of celebrating great music with great people. It’s another one of those festivals that draws a large crowd of all shapes and sizes, and it’s one of the fastest sell-outs around. Three-day passes are long gone, but single day passes are still available! Headliners for this year are Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, and Jack White, with other bands such as The Shins, Passion Pit, and Franz Ferdinand drawing their respective fan bases as well. The Perry Stage also features many of the electronic acts that are most popular across the states- any dubstep lover’s dream.
Photo by Jennifer Myers
For more information on any of these festivals, go online and utilize that little thing we all love so much…. Google! Look up the festival sites, reviews, suggestions, and, if you must, other “top” lists of must-see acts! But more importantly, chat up your friends! Chances are that if you haven’t been lucky enough yet to experience one of these festivals, someone you know has!