One of the most worthwhile events one can attend during the summer is a music festival, especially for college students. Free from the worry of classes or tests the days after most concerts during the academic year, students can afford to let themselves focus solely on music, arts, comedy and socialization. There are many festivals across the country year-round, but the biggest and most rapidly growing are those in the summer. Aside from Indio, Calif.’s Coachella in April, some of the most notable are Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Festival and Manchester, Tenn’s Bonnaroo. Each offers its own unique aesthetic, lineup, extras and crowds.
The Pitchfork Music Festival, run by online music journal Pitchfork Media, is just a few years old and still smaller-scale than some other festivals, but the lineup is always packed with some of the most hyped (and hype-worthy) bands every year. This year’s headliners include Modest Mouse, Broken Social Scene, Robyn, LCD Soundsystem, Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, Wolf Parade, Big Boi, Major Lazer and, of course, the recently and for-a-limited-time-only reunited Pavement.
The big names, however, only scratch the surface. Since Pitchfork often takes sole responsibility for spreading the word about the next big things in the indie music world, the festival boasts those artists that promise to be legendary within months. Buzz bands this year include Girls, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian, Best Coast, Washed Out, Bear in Heaven, Surfer Blood, Real Estate and jj, all of whom you probably first heard of on Pitchfork.
Pitchfork also offers other longtime favorites, such as noise duo Lightning Bolt, indie/hip-hop outfit WHY?, hazy dream-poppers Beach House, experimental shape-shifters Liars, guitar virtuoso and songstress St. Vincent and epic literary indie rockers Titus Andronicus.
Pitchfork is, for the most part, tailored to those who keep up with the most cutting-edge of modern music. See these bands here before they’re selling out auditoriums across the country. Pitchfork takes place July 16-18.
Lollapalooza, one of America’s older music festivals, started in the early 90s and was then dominated by grunge and alternative acts, but it has since expanded to be much more diverse, while still holding on to its alternative roots. Although the festival once toured North America, since 2005, it has been held annually in Chicago’s Grant Park.
This year’s lineup features Soundgarden, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Phoenix, MGMT, Hot Chip, The Black Keys, The National, Spoon, Devo, The New Pornographers and Erykah Badu. One of the strengths of Lollapalooza is that it straddles mainstream and alternative popularity fairly evenly, with bands such as The xx, Dirty Projectors, Edward Sharpe &’ the Magnetic Zeros, Matt &’ Kim, Wavves, Yeasayer, F**k Buttons and Grizzly Bear filling the later description.
Lollapalooza is also notable for its comprehensive lineup of electronica acts at Perry’s, which started just two years ago and this summer includes 2ManyDJs, Digitalism, Kaskade, Rusko, Wolfgang Gartner and many others. The festival also features a biergarten, art exhibits, a gaming tent and various Chicagoan food vendors. The festival occurs August 6-8.
Bonnaroo started in 2002 and has come a long way from its jam band-focused lineup, now featuring a variety of indie, soul, hip-hop, rock, folk, country and comedy acts, as well as reeling in a number of undisputed legends every year. This year’s lineup includes Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Weezer and Conan O’Brien.
Despite the prevalence of what could be considered Bonnaroo staples, such as Dave Matthews Band and Kings of Leon, there are plenty of performances for the more underground-aware. Some acts chosen more for the college-age crowd include The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and the White Dwarfs performing Dark Side of the Moon, Phoenix, which also played last year, The Dead Weather, featuring The White Stripes’ Jack White, Regina Spektor, LCD Soundsystem, The National, Thievery Corporation, The Black Keys, She &’ Him, featuring Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, The xx, The Gossip, Japandroids, Neon Indian and many more.
Food vendors line the edge of Centeroo, where all stages are set up and many sponsors have their own tents, such as a music lounge hosted by Budweiser and a salon sponsored by Garnier Fructis. Along the “roads” of the campground are countless vendors selling novelty fried and sweet foods, glassware, Bonnaroo paraphernalia, trinkets, memorabilia and the like, so bring some extra cash if you get impulsive when it comes to spending on music and event merchandise.
Along with killer lineups, Bonnaroo has the sound systems to support its huge artists; there aren’t often sound issues, and even if you only want to catch the tail end of Kings of Leon from the main What Stage, you’ll still be able to hear the show, probably all the way from your camping spot. Bonnaroo takes place June 10-13.