Every year I anxiously await Music Festival Season. I basically save up all winter to have a fund for all the many lineup and ticket releases, but this year took a little while to dry up that money. I felt like the early festival lineups were lack luster and not worthy of my cold hard cash that I had worked so hard for during the previous 6 months. Being as Coachella is the front runner, and usually sets the standard, I was very worried about this year. I mean, Coachella had some really cool acts, but not enough to take me across country. Another letdown was Hangout Fest which is one of my favorites. I didn’t find the lineup worthy of my time off work and travel down to the beach even though I love it down there. Now that we are about half way through the Festival Season the tides seem to be changing after most of the lineups for the major fests have been released along with the many other fests that are in their inaugural year.
The end of the season looks much more promising as Riot Fest unleashed a monster lineup that pulls music from every part of my life. From No Doubt to Rancid, and System Of A Down to The Academy Is… I will be attending this year making my third year in a row at Riot. Austin City Limits put out a mixed bag of greatness this year also. First weekend brings in legendary rockers Foo Fighters, and The Strokes along side blasting beats from Bassnectar and Deadmau5, and indie acts galore. I will be making my second appearance at ACL this year for sure. Other festivals such as Music Midtown in Atlanta, Pilgrimage Fest in Franklin TN, Sloss in Birmingham, Bumbershoot in Seattle, and Voodoo down in New Orleans have brought out some pretty impressive lineups that have made me question exactly how many packs of Ramen noodles I am willing to consume to afford the ticket and travel expenses to everything.
So Far this year I have managed to hit up Shaky Knees because of the incredible array of music they threw at me…. and because I am a really big fan of the Strokes…. I went to Bonnaroo just for Sunday after receiving an Artist pass from someone I know basically so I could have Robert Plant blow my mind for an hour and a half. Then there is Warped Tour this week, for sixth time, only because my boss needed me to take a day off which happens to allow me to be the old man at Warped. All in all, this season is shaping up quite nicely.
I’m much more frugal when it comes to committing to festivals. That’s fine with me. I don’t mind on missing out on most festival experiences. Honestly, seeing a band at a music festival is pretty much the worst way to see a band. You’re stuck in a crowded field with 80,000 other people that are trying to push into the same exact place. When I went to Shaky Knees earlier this year I was shoved up against the barricade for Brand New. The crowd literally ruined seeing my favorite band. I mean, that’s okay; I’ve seen Brand New in venues and seeing them in the Mercury Ballroom overlooking the show from the balcony is in my top 5 show experiences period. Shaky Knees didn’t even come close to that set.
Now I have to say there were plenty of really awesome things about Shaky Knees like seeing Death From Above 1979 and really, honestly, it had a very nice mesh of punk and indie acts that kept it really interesting as far as the lineup was concerned. Social Distortion, The Kooks, and Death From Above 1979 in the same weekend was pretty cool.
Like Kegan said, Riot Fest is typically where it’s at for festivals. Its lineups are always incredibly diverse. Look at the headliners: Modest Mouse, No Doubt, Snoop Dog, and System of a Down. Seriously, it doesn’t get any more diverse than that. Plus, at $150, it’s one of the most affordable fests if you got tickets early. Well, at least I did.
I’m excited about Warped on Wednesday as well. There’s a good handful of bands I want to see. The filler is definitely there this year again, but for just under $50 it’s also really affordable. It’s a good way to sample a bunch of bands you’ve never heard before as well.
Honestly, the festival bubble is about to bust; the market is constantly growing over-saturated with every city from Seattle, Washington to Franklin, Tennessee trying to create their own mark on the market. Personally, the perfect three act tour is much more appealing than three days of exhaustion, but some things, like System of a Down or Death From Above 1979, you just can’t really pass up.