by Hugh Mcintyre
The warmer months lend themselves to jumping around all day listening to rock and roll and electronic dance music, when younger patrons are out of school and everyone is looking for an excuse to be outside. But now summer is over, and with it go many of the popular music festivals across the US. While that’s a sad thought, that also means it’s time to start looking forward to next year.
At the beginning of the season, I wrote a post looking at several American festivals that were a good bet for this summer. This list is a sort of continuation—a suggestion for both the coming months (there are a few left if you haven’t had your musical fill), as well as tips for next summer. There are hundreds of worthy events every summer, and while it’s impossible to cover them all, because of timing and budgetary restrictions (these festivals can be pricey), most people can only handle a few every year. Here are a few more you may want to consider if you’re in the market for an incredible music experience.
Made In America
The newest festival on the list, Made In America, has only run three times, but already the growth it has experienced is impressive. Founded and headlined by Jay Z in 2012 and sponsored heavily by Budweiser, the inaugural MIA event brought 80,000 people to Philadelphia and grossed over $5 million in ticket sales. Since then, the festival has become one of the most anticipated American shows, and it is now spreading across the country. This past August, Made In America returned, hosting simultaneous events in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Headliners included Pharrell, John Mayer, and Iggy Azalea. Impressively, both Kanye West and Steve Aoki—also headliners—played both cities, one on each day of the weekend.
Austin City Limits
The counterpart to the city’s more infamous annual juggernaut South By Southwest,Austin City Limits is the less hectic option on the other end of the year. In 2013, ACL (as it’s better known) took the popular next step in growing a festival by adding a second weekend to the event. The October festival is running this weekend (Oct. 3-5), and will take place again this coming one (Oct. 10-12). While it may be smaller than SXSW, Austin City Limits still brings out the big names, this year springing for the likes of Eminem, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey and the recently-reunited (if only for the summer) hip-hop duo OutKast. The fall festival also works in conjunction with the legendary television show of the same name, helping cement Austin, Texas as one of America’s great musical cities.
One of New York City’s only major festivals, Governors Ball has no problem selling out in moments, so be prepared to get your tickets as soon as they go up. GB is another fairly young event (2014 was only its fourth year), but already it has started growing out of simple beginnings. The festival got its name from where it was originally held—Governor’s Island—which quickly proved to be too small for the crowds. It is now held on the considerably-larger Randall’s Island. The promoters also used to tout that they never overlapped performances—something common for any event with a certain number of performers—as a way to enhance the consumer’s experience. If nothing overlaps, you truly get to see every band on the bill. As the quantity of acts has grown over the years, there are now several stages and tents going simultaneously, which this past June made attendees choose between names like Jack White or Skrillex, J. Cole or Interpol.
The Voodoo Experience is one of the best festivals in the South, bringing top talent from around the world to a region of the country that might not usually be on a tour itinerary (for some at least). What used to be a simple music festival has grown into an experience that blends music of all genres, art, film, and comedy, which organizers made clear by slightly altering the name to the current “Voodoo Experience”. While almost every festival these days pits rock against pop and electronic dance music, Voodoo was one of the first to do so. This year’s festival—taking place Oct. 21 – Nov. 2—features everyone from the Foo Fighters to EDM mainstay Zedd, and everything in between.
While most festivals are either in major cities (like Lollapalooza or South by Southwest) or in the middle of nowhere (Coachella and Burning Man), what about the rest of the country? Firefly is held in the often-overlooked Dover, Delaware, which may sound like an odd location for artists like Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, or Beck to appear, but is actually genius. Music festivals are unlike concerts in that they are a destination, an experience, and thus can command higher ticket prices and are worth (in many consumers minds) traveling long distances for. Delaware is within driving distance for millions of music lovers, and while it’s still one of the lesser-known American festivals, it may not remain as such for long.