The 10 Essential Summer Festivals of 2013

Rob O'Connor
List Of The Day (NEW)

Welcome, everyone, to the summer of 2013! No summer is complete without standing in long lines for bathrooms and bottled water while braving a sudden summer shower all in the quest for the perfect chord! The idea is to do this while checking out as many bands as humanly possible! Those of us in northern climes sit around the hot stove all winter just waiting for these days when we can stand around outside without most of our clothes!

While every one of us would be a better person if we found our way to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, most of us aren't mentally or physically equipped to deal with the endurance-test qualities of this desert ritual. But for those who are, well, there's another one for you.

The rest of us can stick with the following, in roughly chronological order:


Indio, Calif., April 12-14, 19-21: Let's face it, world — April is close enough for summer in California, and any chance to get the party started early is to be taken. We'll sleep when we're dead, right? Two weekends' worth of heat and music! The lineup is more like a music catalog than a concert bill. How do you even fit this many musicians? Stone Roses, Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, Grinderman, Band of Horses, Beach House, Phoenix, The xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Ros, New Order, Grizzly Bear, The Descendents, Spiritualized, Violent Femmes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave, Vampire Weekend, Wu-Tang Clan, Johnny Marr, Rodriguez, Dead Can Dance, Janelle Monae ... just typing all these names is wearing me out!!


Manchester, Tenn., June 13-16: Paul McCartney will play the hits you've known your entire life. Bjork will likely require the use of your smartphone for any of it to make sense. You'll never believe how old Billy Idol looks. And Wu-Tang Clan and Nas will wonder where all these white kids came from. But go ahead and find Trixie Whitley, Swans, The Tallest Man on Earth, Holy Ghost! and Calexico if you feel like beating the traffic and seeing something else.

Electric Daisy Carnival

Las Vegas, June 21-23: What happens in Vegas can't be reported here. Apparently, it can't be reported anywhere. As of press time, no official announcements have been made declaring who will be at the Electric Daisy Festival, but considering that 2012 brought David Guetta,, John Digweed, Calvin Harris, and dozens more, we can only assume that whatever you remember from the festival this year won't be reportable here later either.


Milwaukee, June 26-30, July 2-7: No one does a festival quite like Milwaukee. This isn't just a festival, it's a two-week party that never runs out of headliners. Whether it's fun. you seek or just a Rush, you'll be flying high as the Eagles even if you're one of those New Kids on the Block who have never seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or Jason Aldean in concert!

Essence Festival

New Orleans, July 4-7: No matter how you try to kill New Orleans, it comes back, and when it does it comes back with more parties and festivals than other grim old towns would ever dare. This year it's four days with Jill Scott, Maxwell, Keyshia Cole, New Edition, Brandy, LL Cool J, and enough other performers to make the claim "over 30 of music's most respected artists are set to take the stage."

Newport Folk Festival

Newport, RI, July 26-28: Bob Dylan once brought an electric guitar to the Newport Folk Festival and was nearly run over to Massachusetts for his transgression. Oh how we've grown! This year a known rustic like Iris Dement will share the stage with Justin Townes Earle, Beth Orton, Michael Hurley, Langhorne Slim & The Law, Jim James, and The Mountain Goats for a hootenanny that's likely got the whole indie-rock world in its hands!


Chicago, Aug. 2-4: The Chicago Cubs may never win a World Series (sorry, not this year!), but the town will be swaying to Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, The Killers, and if early reports are true, The National and The Postal Service. Winter should be over by then!

Outside Lands

San Francisco, Aug. 9-11: If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to stop off at the Outside Lands festival. Its sixth installment is expecting 75,000 people. Official names have yet to be named, but folks (smart folks!) are guessing The Postal Service and Vampire Weekend are at the top of the guess-list, with The xx, Phoenix, Band of Horses, The Killers, and Grizzly Bear also getting funny looks.

Electric Zoo

Randall's Island Park, New York, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1: The Bronx Zoo used to run ads in the 1970s that said, "Where people ride in cages and animals run free." Well, I'm not sure who's in the cages and who runs free on Randall's Island, but consult a map and decide if this doesn't look the perfect place to isolate an "undesirable element" in our society! If Iggy Pop and the Stooges end up being one of the performers, who will care about being trapped?


Seattle, Aug. 31 - Sept. 2: Last year Jane's Addiction, Skrillex, Gotye, Mudhoney, Low, Passion Pit, and Tony Bennett all made it to the great Northwest for the end of the summer celebration. Who it will be this year remains to be announced, but Bumbershoot's never been shy at making fun in and out of heavy rain!

Pitchfork Music Festival

Union Park, Chicago, July 19-21: Yes, there's the Warped Tour running with Hawthorne Heights, Reel Big Fish, and Motion City Soundtrack that will provide its usual kicks, and the Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie, Mastodon, and FiveFinger Death Punch is a must-see for those into, well, mayhem, but the Pitchfork Festival with R. Kelly, Bjork, Belle & Sebastian, Wire, Yo La Tengo, The Breeders (playing the complete Last Splash), Swans, Trail of Dead, Low, and M.I.A. is clearly a fun and diverse place to be for three days. Just don't get hurt or killed. That always puts a damper on things.