2012′s Essential Summer Festivals


Summertime is the right time for outdoor festivals, since people not living in the South get understandably annoyed at being outside in January. Bands like it, too. They get to be a part of something bigger than themselves and they get to catch a lot of musicians that they otherwise wouldn't be able to see since they're touring.

[PHOTO GALLERY: Coachella 2012]

I've taken it upon myself to list this year's essential festivals, which if you had unlimited time and money you should attend, though you may have to be in two places at once. I'm inclined not to tell you about the really good ones since then they'll be more crowded and I won't be able to see. Remember the guy you stood in front of at that last show you attended? Yeah, that was me.

11) Outside Lands: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, August 10-12 (3-day pass, $225 / VIP pass, $495) - With Metallica, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Beck, Skrillex, Sharon Van Etten, and Sigur Ros among those scheduled to perform, the three-day Outside Lands Festival looks to be emerging as the West Coast Thing To Do. If you splurge for the VIP 3-Day Ticket, you're given access to the Exclusive Polo Club that features shade and special restroom facilities. We'll be back in the high life again!
Tickets & info - http://www.sfoutsidelands.com

10) Hard Summer: Historic Park, Los Angeles, August 3-4 (2-day pass, $119 / VIP pass, $250) -

For those of you who enjoy electronic music and wish to be blinded by science, check out Hard Summer, where Skrillex, Bloc Party, Boys Noize, Mike Snow, Bloody Beetroots, Bootsy Collins & The Funk Unity Band, and much much more will be assaulting your eardrums until you lose your mind. You're advised to dress in layers and wear comfortable flat sole shoes. No bandannas, pacifiers, or gas masks will be permitted. (What do you people do these days?)
Tickets & info - http://www.hardfest.com

9) Bunbury Music Festival: Cincinnati, Ohio, July 13-15 (1-day pass, $46 / 3-day pass, $93) - Cincinnati's newest music fest promises to put the WKR back into WKRP. The inaugural fest will feature Jane's Addiction, Weezer, Death Cab For Cutie, Gym Class Heroes, Motion City Soundtrack, and Airborne Toxic Event. There will be an EcoMarketplace, an Inkerton, and a Tech Pavilion for people who miss their computers. Kids under age 10 get in free when accompanied by an adult, so pack up the station wagon and send all those pesky kids into the mosh pit!
Tickets & info - http://www.bunburyfestival.com

8) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, June 8-10 (sold-out) - Having already finished off New Jersey, the 16th Annual Electric Daisy Carnival comes to Vegas for three days of electronic music mayhem. Large-scale art installations spitting fire or water! Rides! Theatrical performances! And enough lasers in the desert to expand the consciousness of anyone who keeps their eyes open! There's even a list of local and online costume and accessory stores to make sure you look the part. Who wants to look so last year? Join David Guetta, Doctor P, will.i.am, Dirty South, Flaming Lotus Girls, Manufactured Superstars, and so many more! For this event, sleep deprivation is a must!
Tickets & info - http://electricdaisycarnival.com/LasVegas/

7) Pitchfork Music Festival: Union Park, Chicago, July 13-15: (1-day pass, $45 / 3-day pass, $110) - Defining hipsterism since 2006, the Pitchfork Festival is the best thing to happen to Chicago since deep-dish pizza and wind. Vampire Weekend, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hot Chip, Beach House, Feist, Sleigh Bells, Wild Flag, and many more will make people ecstatically happy, if the pictures on the website are telling the truth.
Tickets & info - http://pitchfork.com/festivals/chicago/2012

6) Firefly Music Festival: Dover Delaware, July 20-22 (3-day pass, $198 / VIP pass, $495 / super VIP pass, $1195) - Enhanced dining options make this East Coast Festival in tax-friendly Delaware the place to be for three days. Hot air balloon rides will be offered, until something goes horribly wrong, to allow you the chance to watch your favorite bands from high in the sky. See the Killers, the Black Keys, Jack White, the Flaming Lips, the Legendary John Legend, Girl Talk, OK Go, and Kids These Days like you've never seen them before. It's a brand-new summer tradition!
Tickets & info - http://fireflyfestival.com

5) Lollapalooza: Grant Park, Chicago, August 3-5 (sold-out)

- Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Jack White, and Black Sabbath without Bill Ward headline this legendary festival that even includes Florence + The Machine, Sharon Van Etten, Laura Warshauer, and Tune-Yards, in case you wanted to see some women onstage for a change. And don't forget to bring those kids 10 and under, so they can bang on the drum all day at Kidzapalooza from 11am-5pm and then hang in the trunk of your car while you rock out all night! (We don't really advise you do this.)
Tickets & info - http://www.lollapalooza.com

4) Orion Music Festival and More: Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ, June 23-24 (2-day pass, $150 / VIP pass, $750) - And you thought Atlantic City was just for gambling and organized crime? Times have changed! Metallica will be performing all of the "Black Album" one night and all of Ride The Lightning the other. Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse, Avenged Sevenfold, the Gaslight Anthem, Hot Snakes, Roky Erickson, the Black Angels, A Place To Bury Strangers, and Charred Walls Of The Damned are among the performers. You'll also be able to watch professional surfers and who knows, maybe Bruce will help park cars and/or feed the homeless!
Tickets & info - http://www.orionmusicandmore.com

3) Burning Man: Black Rock Desert, Nevada, August 27-September 3 (cost varies)

- More like a makeshift city than a festival, Burning Man offers a "First-Timer's Guide" on their website that includes a Survival Guide, a Recommended Reading List, and its Ten Core Principles. If you don't like other people, stay home, because they're big on community and participation. Sounds exciting, though! According to the website, "The heat is oppressive, electrical storms are common, and dust storms can affect sensitive equipment. Rain can turn a fun(ky) miniature golf course into a mud wallow." What are you waiting for?
Tickets & info - http://www.burningman.com

2) Bumbershoot: Seattle Center, September 1-3 (3-day pass, $110 / gold pass, $300 / platinum pass, $400) - Coming in at the very end of the season, Bumbershoot includes Music, Comedy, Dance, Words, Theatre, Film, and Visual Arts. Already signed up are Tony Bennett, Jane's Addiction, Skrillex, Gotye, Big Sean, M. Ward, Mudhoney, Low, Wanda Jackson, the Vaselines, Damien Jurado (he lives next door), and Gold Leaves, among the many for what is at times an amazing indoor experience (hey, it's Seattle, folks!) It's also a fantastic outdoor experience. You may bring your umbrella, but leave your wagons or carts, weapons, laser pointers, and coolers larger than 14"x15"x10" at home!
Tickets & info - http://bumbershoot.org

1) Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee, June 7-10 (4-day pass, $259 / VIP package for two, $1399.50) -

It's grown into the biggest festival near the East Coast, with 700 lovely acres in which to lose your loved ones. Yoga classes, hair washing, films, beer, and a clothing drive all accentuate what is one huge lineup of stars from Radiohead, Phish, the Beach Boys, and Bon Iver to Fun., Civil Wars, Kooks, Cave Singers, and Silent Comedy. And that's just the band names. Just imagine the fun you'll have without your parents around!
Tickets & info - http://www.bonnaroo.com

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