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Mapping America’s Music Festivals: A Regional Guide

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monument-valley-53637_640Have you ever found out that all your favorite bands were playing together in one neat package at a single music festival, only to click for more info and discover that the event was a thousand miles away?

Music festivals aren’t inexpensive, so here’s a handy map for a quick look at the “heavy hitters” in each region to minimize what you have to put into your gas tank. In case you find yourself tiring of the bigger crowds, there are a few wildcards thrown into the mix as well. Except for Hawaii’s Wanderlust, all of the festivals are upcoming events for the summer of 2014.

This is a very small sampling of what the U.S. has to offer for music festivals. If there’s a particular event you would recommend, tell us about it in the comments. Remember to support your favorite musicians; purchase a CD at each band’s website, or buy concert tickets here.

 

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Northeast

The Heavy Hitters:

Firefly

Dover, DE June 19-22

This year’s lineup includes the Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Tegan and Sara, the Lumineers, the Local Natives, and the Broken Bells, among many others. There are so many artists packed into this festival, it’s hard to imagine going home disappointed.

Electric Zoo Festival

Randall’s Island, NY, August 29-August 31

Electric Zoo, or EZoo, is essentially New York’s biggest rave. Billboard had this to say about the event: “Electric Zoo might not be the country’s largest, splashiest, or most hyped electronic dance music festival. But we’re going to go on record and say that it’s the best.”

Boston Calling 

From its inception just a few years back, Boston Calling has been bringing major headliners like fun., The National, The Decemberists, Death Cab For Cutie, Tegan & Sara, and more to Boston’s City Hall Plaza. September’s lineup boasts Lorde, The 1975, Neutral Milk Hotel , and more, all mixed with some of Boston’s finest local talent.

The Underrated:

KahBang

Bangor, ME, August 7-10

KahBang includes camping, films, and a brew fest (that’s right, there’s beer too) up along the beautiful mid-coast of Maine. KahBang, started in 2009, quickly became New England’s largest indie festival. A nice choice if you don’t enjoy navigating big cities like NYC.

The South

The Heavy Hitters:

Bonnaroo

Manchester, TN, June 12-15

At this point, Bonnaroo is easily one of the most well-known music festivals in the country. This year’s event is very nearly upon us, but as of the writing of this article, there are still a few tickets left. If you can’t make it this year, Xbox will be broadcasting a live stream of the festival.

TomorrowWorld

Chattahoochee Hills, GA, September 26-28

TomorrowWorld began as an extension of the TomorrowLand festival in Belgium, and grew with the popularity of electronic music in the U.S. This festival is known for surreal sets and costumes, and an unusual attention to detail. Last year, they even constructed floating platforms so that festival-goers could dance in the middle of a lake.

The Underrated:

Underwater Music Festival

West Pine Key, FL, July 12

Yes, it is actually underwater. No major headliners here, but I couldn’t let this one fly beneath the radar. The 26-year-old event is broadcast worldwide, and puts an emphasis on reef conservation.

The Midwest

The Heavy Hitters:

Lollapalooza

Chicago, IL, August 1-3

Another very well-known show, with tickets dropping June 6. In addition to a famously great lineup, Lolla boasts a farmer’s market and a mini festival specifically for kids.

Pitchfork Music Festival

Chicago, IL, July 18-20

Yes, the magazine has its own festival. Tickets are $60 for any individual day, and the lineup includes Beck and Neutral Milk Hotel. In between sets, attendees can shop at a vinyl record fair.

The Underrated:

Bunbury Music Festival

Cincinnati, OH, July 11-13

Bunbury has a pretty fantastic 2014 lineup: featured artists include The Flaming Lips, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Young The Giant, and New Politics.

The West

Heavy Hitters:

Outside Lands

San Francisco, CA, August 8-10

Outside Lands really covers all the bases; they have major scheduled acts across a range of genres, as well as a full blown wine bar, and a “magic-mirror tent” for variety acts.

First City Festival

Monterey, CA, August 23-24

Every ticket includes unlimited rides at the Monterey Carnival, so you can enjoy the til-o-whirl while listening to The National.

Underrated:

Underground Music Showcase

Denver, CO, July 24-27

The Underground Music Showcase (or UMS) is eye-catching for the sheer number of bands and their variety. Single day passes, although only available the day of, are just $35.

Hawaii & Alaska

Unless I overlooked a key event (and I apologize if that’s the case), there aren’t enough major festivals in these areas to divide Alaska and Hawaii into major and underrated festivals.

Salmonstock

Ninilchik, AL, August 1-3

Held at Kenai State Fairgrounds, Salmonstock is one of Alaska’s largest music festivals.

 Wanderlust

Oahu, HI, February 27-March 2

Although it has passed for the year, Hawaii’s Wanderlust Festival bears mentioning for its unique combination of surfing, yoga, and music.

Canada

 This is a microscopic summary of Canada’s music festivals, but if you have a passport, you might want to consider heading north this summer.

Veld

Toronto, August 3-4

Osheaga

Quebec, August 1-3

Farmageddon Metal Festival

Alberta, June 12-15

 

 

 

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