St. Vincent was one of the headliners at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival last summer. // © 2012 Morgan G. Harris
With summer just around the corner, there comes a time when music fans need to decide which festivals will make the cut — and they need to think fast. Nowadays, the largest and most popular summer music festivals are likely to sell out soon after lineups go public. Planning accommodations, transportation and purchasing tickets in advance are key, even if it’s a year ahead of time. So just buy the early bird tickets already — you know you’ll want to go no matter who is playing.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif.
April 12-14, 19-21
Remember when getting tickets to Coachella was easy? The 14-year-old event has become Southern California’s most anticipated music festival of the year, stretching over two long weekends— and almost always selling out. Blame it on the great weather or a lineup packed with must-see talent, but Coachella has the success formula down pat.
This year’s event will kick off with two huge reunion shows from The Stone Roses and Blur. Festival goers will also not want to miss the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, Lou Reed, Jurrassic 5, Band of Horses and Local Natives as well as emerging artists Alt-J, Palma Violets and Jake Bugg.
Phoenix, The XX and New Order headline Saturday’s show, with other notable performances from the Violent Femmes, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, Sigur Ros and Yeasayer. The Red Hot Chili Peppers return to the Coachella main stage on Sunday. Vampire Weekend; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; Wu-Tang Clan; and Tame Impala round out the experience.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La.
April 26 to May 5
If you love Cajun food and world music, than look no further than the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Called Jazzfest by locals, the event will take place over the course of 10 days at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course. With its diverse lineup, spanning gospel music to hip hop, the family-friendly festival brings together music lovers from all walks of life. Headliners at this year’s event include legends and local favorites: Hall and Oates, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, the Black Keys, Willie Nelson, the Gypsy Kings, Patti Smith, Taj Mahal, Trombone Shorty and the Rebirth Brass Band.
In addition to experiencing a wide-range of music performances, people come to Jazzfest for its soul food, Cajun specialties and Creole cuisine. Expect all manner of po-boys as well as boiled crawfish, alligator pie, fried green tomatoes and gumbo that’s loaded with okra and Andouille sausages — all of which should be washed down with a cold Abita beer.
South by Southwest Music and Media Conference
Downtown Austin, Texas
Hard-core music fans, music industry executives and anyone who considers themselves a tastemaker cannot miss the annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Back for its 27th year, SXSW is the music industry event where no-name bands can launch into superstardom overnight. In recent years, the event has garnered so much buzz that some of the biggest musicians in the industry — including Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne — have gotten in on the action.
The partial lineup has been announced, and more bands will be added to the list for a total of approximately 2,000 official performers. Confirmed acts include Cold War Kids, Vampire Weekend, Local Natives, Benny Benassi, DIIV, The Airborne Toxic Event, Major Lazer, Alt-J, Fitz and The Tantrums, Bastille, Dillion Francis, The Little Ones and Flosstradamus.
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame will be the event’s keynote speaker, and Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies will share stories from the early days of the British Invasion during a featured interview on March 15.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
What do you get when you place 80,000 campers in the middle of rural Tennessee and ply them with live music and craft beer? One heck of a good time. Bonnaroo has a knack for bringing fun-loving people together for four days of music, art and tomfoolery. Add an air-conditioned movie theater playing classics, documentaries and sports around the clock and a comedy tent in association with Comedy Central, and there’s something to appeal just about every Bonnaroovian.
The 2013 “Bonnaroo Broo’ers Festival” will feature more than 20 different breweries under one tent. Festival-goers can enjoy hearty bocks, pilsners, crisp pale ales, fruity ciders and more from world-renowned microbreweries as well as favorites such as Sierra Nevada, Magic Hat, Woodchuck Cider and Sweetwater. The festival has increased its number of beer selections as well as grown the Broo’ers University program, which will continue to offer a wide array of classes and discussions focused solely on the art of beer.
The lineup hasn’t been released yet (Weird Al Yankovic has the pleasure of announcing it soon on YouTube), but last year’s show included performances by Radiohead, The Beach Boys, Foster the People, Feist, Skrillex and Bon Iver.
Grant Park in Chicago, Ill.
It’s safe to say that Lollapalooza is the godfather of summer music festivals. What started as a farewell show for Jane’s Addiction in 1991 with performances by Ice-T and Nine Inch Nails, has grown into a massive annual event that appeals to old-school rockers, hip-hop heads, indie-nerdists and just about everyone in between. No longer a touring festival, Lolla has been calling Chicago’s Grant Park home since 2005.
The 2013 edition will feature a farmers’ market, handmade arts and crafts, and more than 130 artists playing indie rock, hip-hop, reggae, electro and modern roots. Although rumors and fake Lolla posters with dream lineups are circulating on the Internet, the official list has not yet been released. Last year’s event featured Black Sabbath, Florence + the Machine, At the Drive-In, The Black Keys, Kaskade and Justice, among many others.