June 9-12, Manchester, Tenn.
Bonnaroo is known for hippie-izing whoever signs up, like Flaming Lips playing Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” last year, or Springsteen jamming with Phish the year before. The toke-’em-if-you’ve-got-’em tradition continues with a diverse lineup nearly 200-strong that includes Eminem, Mumford and Sons, Wiz Khalifa, Arcade Fire, the Strokes and a Buffalo Springfield reunion.
June 24-26, North Adams, Mass.
If you love Wilco, you need to attend this fest, where not only does Jeff Tweedy’s band headline both nights, but their other members host workshops and showcase their side projects. You can also see the Levon Helm Band, Thurston Moore, plus a whole slew of comedians curated by John Hodgman.
Pitchfork Music Festival
July 15-17, Chicago, Ill.
When you’re an indie rock website that basically acts as the barometer of cool, it’s important that your festival features all those musicians that you’ve put on pedestals. Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Neko Case, Guided by Voices and TV on the Radio are the biggies here, but the up and comers are all great too. Make sure to check out EMA, Yuck and Twin Sister.
Newport Folk Festival
July 30-31, Newport, RI
This year’s highlights include acoustic sets from Elvis Costello and Tegan and Sara, as well as full-on rocking ones from Delta Spirit, Mavis Staples and David Wax Museum. Go on Saturday to see the What Cheer? Brigade roam around the grounds with their terrifyingly beautiful cacophony.
Escape to New York
Aug. 5-7, Southampton, NY
We get a kick out of made- up phrases as much as anybody, and when we first heard about this fest in the Hamptons that boasted a glamorous type of camping they called glamping, we got a good laugh. But we stopped laughing when we saw how cool the lineup was. Patti Smith, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the Vaccines, Best Coast and more! And that’s only Friday night!
Aug. 5-7, Chicago, Ill.
Why does Chicago get all the cool fests? And it’s not even a repeat of the Pitchfork event two weeks earlier. Totally different lineups. This one has Eminem, Foo Fighters, Ellie Goulding and the only scheduled festival stop from the reunited Cars.
Commodore Barry Park, NYC
The acts playing the seventh annual Afro-Punk are all black, but that’s about the only thing they have in common, well, aside from awesomeness. See Cee-Lo Green, Santigold, Janelle Monae, Fishbone, Jay Electronica, Toro Y Moi and others who haven’t been announced.
In the city
We like to think of these events as long, drawn-out festivals that are going on all summer, even when we’re not there. SummerStage highlights include free shows by Reggie Watts (June 22), Fitz and the Tantrums (June 25), Pink Martini (July 17), Friendly Fires (August 7) and an old school hip-hop throwdown with Rakim, EPMD and Funkmaster Flex (August 21). Highlights for the Seaport include free shows from Ted Leo, headlining the 4Knots Music Festival (July 9), Lower Dens and Dirty Beaches (July 1) and The Wake and Weekend (July 8).
Summer Music Guide: THE BEST FESTS