There’s no better event to plan a spontaneous getaway around than one of the many thriving summer music festivals scattered across the country. Record sales might be at an all time low, but the buzz around these outdoor extravaganzas is getting louder and louder every year. This anticipatory enthusiasm is justified by colossal bills bringing the most fawned-over Internet bands and legendary rockstars together in one destination.
If you’ve never had reason to pile into a crammed car with your buddies and drive for hours on end, here are four great excuses:
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tenn.
Talk about a getaway. The closest city to Manchester is Nashville, and even that’s an hour away. Despite its remote location, the festival draws in the business’s most talked-about acts and fans respond by turning out in massive numbers. Camping is the norm at Bonnaroo, which is known for the complete immersion of its attendees. The rural atmosphere is a nice alternative to the hustle and bustle of the big city, where most other festivals are held. Originally, Bonnaroo was designed as an oasis for jam bands, but has transformed into a venue for a much broader range of genres. This year’s headliners include Phish and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. The festival has its share of one-of-a-kind events including the “Silent Disco,” a tent where participants wear headphones and DJs channel their music through them so as not to disturb those trying to sleep. With tickets starting at $224.50, the price is shocking but worth it. Slang for “a really good time,” Bonnaroo is sure to be just that.
Double JJ Ranch, Rothbury, Mich.
Hippies and hipsters will unite on the west coast of Michigan to celebrate our nation’s birthday. After a successful inaugural year, Rothbury looks to avoid the sophomore slump by staging rare performances from two bands (The Dead, The String Cheese Incident) that will bring their cult-like fanbases from all corners of the country. The rest of the bill consists of legends (Bob Dylan and His Band, Willie Nelson & Family), rappers (Kid CuDi, Matisyahu), straight-up rock‘n’rollers (The Hold Steady, Cold War Kids) and one guy who mashes it all up (Girl Talk). Touted as the most environmentally friendly of the festivals, organizers are sure to keep things green. The “zero-waste event” will include the use of compostables (i.e. plates made of sugarcane) and alternative energy. Whether you’re an indie-rock enthusiast, a jam-band groupie or a casual listener looking for a unique experience, Rothbury will provide much brighter sparks than your local fireworks. Two-day passes start at $149.50.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Union Park, Chicago, Ill.
With $75 three-day passes, the question isn’t whether you should go to this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival or not, but exactly how deep a V-neck you should sport while watching such indie-tastic bands as Grizzly Bear, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Wavves, Beirut, Yeasayer, M83, The Black Lips, Mew and The National. Pitchfork, housed in Chicago’s Union Park, is probably the “coolest” festival of the summer with its hipster-friendly lineup, but that’s nothing to roll your eyes at. Beneath all that blog-fueled buzz, these Pitchfork bands can actually bring the rock. Friday night has a “Write the Night” feature where fans create setlists for Built to Spill, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise and The Jesus Lizard through online voting. Plus, DJ/Rupture, Pharoah Monche and Doom will inject some eclecticism into the indie-oriented roster. And besides, we all need to see a confetti-filled, rabbit-suited live performance by headliners The Flaming Lips at least once.
Grant Park, Chicago, Ill.
Originally conceived in 1991 as an itinerate rock‘n’roll freak-show — complete with body-piercing booths, Shaolin monks and a real-life circus sideshow — Lollapalooza brought ’90s alt-rock culture to the backyards of folks all over the country. But after six glorious years, Lou Pearlman (essentially the Phil Spector of boy bands) shifted the musical zeitgeist from angsty post-grunge to bubblegum radio pop, and lagging ticket sales couldn’t keep the festival afloat. Resurrected in 2005 as a weekend-long event anchored in Chicago’s Grant Park, it has thrived ever since. This summer, Lollapalooza offers a little something for everyone: from Depeche Mode and the Beastie Boys, to Lou Reed, Tool, Kings of Leon, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, The Killers, Fleet Foxes, STS9 and even Snoop Dogg. Also, there will be a separate tent for DJ-sets from the likes of MSTKRFT, Animal Collective and Kid CuDi. Advance 3-day passes are $190, and for those with thicker wallets VIP passes sell for $850.