Multiple Venues, Brooklyn
If you didn't have the money to fly down to Texas for SXSW, Northside offers a similar plat-form for showcasing new acts on the indie spectrum. Taking over Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the fest features psych-influenced indie poppers Of Montreal, Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and hundreds of under-the-radar acts. Cost of admission ranges from $70 to $250.
June 23-24, Randall's Island
A music festival/block party that's minutes from Manhattan? Yes, please! Mashing together hot indie rock, electro and hip-hop acts with food trucks, lawn games and beer pong, the only complaint is that this fest is only two days. This could be a way of life! Other highlights include Passion Pit, Explosions in the Sky, Major Lazer, Beck, Kid Cudi and Modest Mouse. Admission ranges from $95 to $300.
CBGB Festival 2012
July 5-8, New York City
Whether you miss the old days of the small, dirty punk club on the LES, or you actually just missed those days by being born too late, CB's returns for a curated festival in more than 20 venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Highlights include classic alt-rockers Guided By Voices and lo-fi buzz band Cloud Nothings, who would have fit right in on a bill there in the early '80s. The four-day festival showcases 300 rock bands, including a free showcase at Central Park Summerstage, music industry panels, and a full-day Spirits Festival in downtown NYC featuring small distillers.
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4Knots Music Festival
July 14, South Street Seaport
This free fest offers an afternoon of music from recently reunited punk rock act Archers of Loaf and catchy Brooklyn-based indie pop band The Drums, among others. The second annual 4Knots, sponsored by Village Voice, replaces their old Siren Fest on Coney Island.
Catalpa NYC 2012
July 28-29, Randall's Island
This brand new fest caters to a variety of audiences. You should shell out the $140 to $180 if only for the outside opportunity of seeing Snoop Dogg guesting on a Black Keys song. If that doesn't happen live, there's a chance that mashup artist Girl Talk, also on the bill, could do something similar to make up for it.
Aug. 31-Sept. 2
Tickets for this fest start at $299, but it is the largest platform for electro north of Ultra Fest in Miami. Where else can you hear David Guetta, Benny Benassi, Skrillex and Tiesto bumpin' in the same weekend?
Rock the Bells
Sept. 1-2, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
For hip-hop fanatics, Rock the Bells is your best bet. Tickets range from $112 to $250. In addition to Nas and Common, the festival glances into the different subgenres of rap. A highlight of the lineup of more than 20 acts is Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who perform Eazy-E's "E. 1999 Eternal" in its entirety for their 20th anniversary reunion. See you at the crossroads!
Hot 97 Summer Jam
June 3, Metlife Stadium
East Rutherford, NJ
The hip-hop and R&B station-curated fest brings out the hottest names on the radio and beyond. Catch early sets by up-and-coming rappers with big buzz like Tyga, Meek Mill and Mavado. And stick around for tried-and-true headliners like Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj. Tickets range from $45 to $175.