Pick Up Tix: Must-Go Music Festivals

Anna Marketti ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
As finals week comes to a close and as the sunshine seems more of a permanent fixture than a trick to conceal the cold, festival season is set to commence. Kickstarted by Coachella and SXSW, there’s an overwhelming number of options when it comes to picking which music festival you want to attend. Of course, factors like cost and location come into play. But all too often festivals are neglected simply because they don’t receive as much exposure as some of the more well-known fests we constantly hear being name-dropped.
So in case you were tired of hearing about Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, here are some festivals with pretty juicy lineups and prices that’ll leave your wallet happier and fuller.
(in no particular order)
Shaky Knees Festival
Atlanta, GA
May 8-10
3-day GA $215/Single-day GA $99
Lineup highlights: The Strokes, Ryan Adams, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
This one passed, but still needed to be included. Taking place in Central Park (no, not that Central Park) in Atlanta, you can get a taste of southern charm all while enjoying a seriously loaded lineup. Shaky Knees saw the likes of older acts like The Strokes and Pixies as well as some up-and-coming acts making appearances at countless other fests this summer. Plus, it caught a reunited Neutral Milk Hotel one last time, since they promised, again, they’re done with touring after this.

Sasquatch Festival
George, WA
May 22-25
4-day GA $350
(camping not included)
Lineup highlights: Robert Plant, Kendrick Lamar, Sleater-Kinney, Natalie Prass, Royal Blood
Though it doesn’t hold a candle to Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Washington’s Sasquatch Festival takes place in the beautiful Gorge Amphitheatre situated near the Columbia River. Surrounded by breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains, it’s a nature-lover’s paradise. Pair that with the likes of Perfume Genius, who’s playing this year’s festival, and you have a purely magical weekend. The camping festival is run by Livenation, so there are hints of corporate sellout lingering, but don’t let that steer you away, as this year boasts a heady lineup.

Eaux Claires Festival
Eau Claire, WI
July 17-18
3-day GA $135
(camping not included)
Lineup highlights: Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, The Tallest Man On Earth, Sylvan Esso, Spoon
Heading off it’s inaugural year, the festival curated by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner has both intrigued and made wary critics and fans alike. No one knows quite what to expect, but if the lineup is a signal of anything, Eaux Claires promises to be an induced dreamland of sorts, wedging some of the biggest soft spoken indie-pop acts into the mystifying northern Wisconsin wilderness. If Carrie & Lowell made you cry alone in your bedroom, just imagine its power surrounded by plunging river valleys and decadent thickets pine trees. Yeah.

Forecastle Festival
Louisville, KY
July 17-19
3-day GA $144.50-$199.50/Single-day GA $74.50-$90.50
(tiered pricing)
Lineup highlights: Tweedy, Speedy Ortiz, Portugal. The Man, Widespread Panic, Sam Smith
I know, I know–what happens in Kentucky? Aside from the proverbial fried chicken and recent derby, anyone not from this southern gem of a city is likely to know almost nothing about it. But it seems the south fosters some of the most exciting festivals–from Bonnaroo to yes, Forecastle. Louisville is actually a fairly progressive city, as is showcased by the extensive efforts the festival takes to be as painstakingly green as they can. The founder of Forecastle has even set up a foundation in the festival’s name that donates upwards of $50k annually to environmental organizations and efforts. Take that, reusable water bottles. Of course, there’s also a Kentucky bourbon bar. What are you waiting for?!

Bunbury Music Festival
Cincinnati, OH
June 5-7
3-day GA $154/Single-day GA $69
Lineup highlights: Snoop Dogg, The Black Keys, Twenty One Pilots, Bleachers, The Decemberists
Eclectic lineup aside, Bunbury has a properly balanced collection of some of the hottest indie artists, including those both big and small. And maybe I’m the only one who’s excited to see The Front Bottoms for the fifth time in three years, but the price is right–absurdly low, even–for such quality acts packed into one weekend. But the lineup isn’t even that packed, which slips the cozy factor in for this festival. What could be better than getting to see your favorite bands and not be overwhelmed by the crowd?

Osheaga Music Festival
Montreal, Canada
July 31-August 2
3-day GA ~$227/Single-day GA (no prices available)
(prices converted from CAD)
Lineup highlights: Florence + The Machine, Weezer, Caribou, Tyler, The Creator, The Thurston Moore Band
Not all great music festivals are restricted to the U.S. In fact, with Glastonbury being one of the landmark festivals of its kind, and hailing from the U.K., music festivals in other countries can often be bigger, better, and offer us an excuse to use our passports. Osheaga in particular is nice in that Montreal isn’t too far of a trek for anyone from almost any northern state. We see a lot of crossover in lineups this year, which holds true even for Osheaga; but one thing that sets it apart is that it’s on a beautiful island just outside Montreal proper.

Milwaukee, WI
June 24-28, June 30-July 5
11-day GA $80/3-day GA $45/Single-day GA $19
Lineup highlights: The Rolling Stones, The Flaming Lips, Mavis Staples, Weird Al, OK Go
There’s probably no other place in the world you can see so many big-name, arena-selling artists for under $100. And that’s for the entire event, over a week. Normally, one would be wary with such low prices. But Summerfest gives you acts that are worth every last penny. Though additional fees are involved for some of the bigger headliners (see: The Rolling Stones), not only is Summerfest cost-effective, but it’s time-effective as well. Situated in Milwaukee, you’re surrounded by first-class art museums and myriad nightlife that you can immerse yourself in before and after the shows. The fest is extremely family friendly as well, welcoming attendees of all ages–so if you’re sick of being surrounded by drunken underage college kids, get your ticket so you can be surrounded by drunken middle-aged Wisconsin housewives. Really, though, Summerfest is totally a steal, and a worthwhile one.

Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, AL
May 15-17
3-day GA $250
Lineup highlights: Foo Fighters, Father John Misty, Beck, Lake Street Dive, Rubblebucket
Nothing epitomizes summer better than the beach, right? That’s where Hangout comes in to totally change everything you knew about summer: not only can you go to a music festival, but you hear the sounds of your favorite bands while listening to the calming waves of the Gulf of Mexico washing up on your feet. Hangout Fest takes place on a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, meshing two of the best things about summer. So start working on your beach bod, everyone’s going to see it when you go crowdsurfing.

Pickathon Music Festival
Happy Valley, OR
July 31-August 2
3-day GA $270
Lineup highlights: Cloud Nothings, DIIV, Ex Hex, King Tuff, Ty Segall
Pickathon places emphasis on more up-and-coming acts rather than bold-faced, no-brainer headliners. Which is a nice touch, considering the acts they do choose are often heroes in the indie world. Surrounded and shaded by the verdant trees populating Pendarvis Farm, Pickathon places you in the center of a fairy tale, with stages crafted from branches and dappled sunlight touching every woodchipped corner.

Gentlemen Of The Road
Various Locations
June 5-6 (Seaside Heights, NJ)
June 19-20 (Waverly, IA)
July 31-August 1 (Aviemore, Scotland)
August 14-15 (Walla Walla, WA)
August 21-22 (Salida, CO)
GA + camping $200
Lineup highlights: Mumford & Sons, Foo Fighters, The Vaccines, The Flaming Lips, Alabama Shakes
“Music festivals sound cool, but I’d never know…there are never any near where I live.” Fear not–there is even a music festival for you! Stopping in various otherwise untouched towns across the U.S., and even one in Scotland, Gentlemen Of The Road is a traveling festival hauling a rather hefty lineup. So good news for the humble residents of Waverly, Iowa–now you don’t have to trek for hundreds of miles to the nearest city to see Dave Grohl wail away. Perhaps this will be the beginning of putting these towns on the map, in order to make way for other festivals to stop through. Until then, rejoice, because the next stop might be in a town near you.

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