By: Katie Lee, Brennan Carley
Save for yesterday’s gloomy rainstorm, Boston has seen an abundance of wonderful weather in the past week. With that weather comes the promise of summer and the music festivals that accompany the season. Scattered all across the country, these massive spring and summer festivals truly have something for any music fan out there. Lil’ Wayne makes his long-awaited return to the stage at this year’s Bonnaroo Festival, while Kanye claims his throne at Coachella’s final day in the blazing desert. For alternative fans, bands like Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, and the Black Keys will make the leap to the main stages throughout the United States. At these same, already exhilarating music extravaganzas, concertgoers can find sculptures at Coachella, comedians at Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza’s 2 a.m. after parties in downtown Chicago. This year, the festival circuit is more crowded than ever, so spend your day dreaming of attending one of the following five events.
Sasquatch Music Festival
The Northwest’s favorite annual musical festival, Sasquatch, celebrates its 10-year anniversary this Memorial Day weekend. Usually, like Coachella, Sasquatch is a three-day event, but because of the special anniversary this year, they have generously decided to add an extra day of music and festivities on Friday. Sasquatch is arguably the premier indie-rock gathering in the country. When the first Sasquatch was held 10 years ago, the festival primarily had performances by local Northwestern alternative or indie bands. Although there are still a number of local groups at Sasquatch each year, the festival has grown immensely in popularity and size, now featuring bigger name groups and artists. One of the things that sets Sasquatch apart from the rest is its beautiful and scenic setting of the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash. Along with the picturesque aspect of the location, the multiple stages are all within close walking distance of each other, making it easy to travel from one concert to the next. The 2011 lineup highlights the fusion between small groups and big names that Sasquatch is now known for. This year the lineup combines older rock bands with multiple new and upcoming alternative and electronic artists. With a strong lineup such as this one, this year’s Sasquatch is guaranteed to be incredibly successful.
This upcoming weekend, thousands of people will gather at the Empire Polo Fields in California for one of the most highly-anticipated music festivals of the year. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, commonly known as Coachella, is an annual three day music and arts festival, began in 1999 and has been rising in popularity ever since. In fact, Coachella is now considered one of the country’s “must-attend” music events and draws in music fans lovers from all across the country. Just last year, the event drew a record number of 75,000 attendees per day of the event. The desert-located festival features a wide variety of genres including alternative rock, indie, and electronic music with multiple stages that are simultaneously playing music from afternoon to night. The stages include: Coachella Stage (this hosts the largest amount of people and the most popular shows), Outdoor Theatre, Gobi Tent, Mojave Tent, and the Sahara Tent. With this amount of music, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be something you like playing at anytime throughout the festival. This year’s lineup is arguably Coachella’s best yet.
Connecticut music fan Frankie Bombaci had a unique idea for his senior class project in 2009. He wanted to: “bring some up and coming local bands and let them play in the same scene with some well-known acts.” The result? The first year of B.O.M.B. Fest, an acronym for Bring Our Music Back. Bombaci’s idea was such a hit that year that it has now become an annual event and draws in some of the most well known artists in the industry. What sets B.O.M.B. Fest apart from some of the other small summer festivals is the fact that the majority of the proceeds go to children in need. Proceeds from ticket sales and the event itself are donated to charities such as Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. As far as music goes, B.O.M.B. Fest has an eclectic lineup for this upcoming May at Western Connecticut State University. The event features a few big and easily recognizable names along side some up and coming smaller alternative groups.
This hugely popular festival is a four-day, multi-stage camping event that is held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn. Bonnaroo has always played host to a wonderfully eclectic array of guests—last year’s highlights include Aziz Ansari, Jay-Z, and LCD Soundsystem. While this year sees the return of the kings of rap (Lil’ Wayne and Eminem) to the festival scene, the sound leans heavily toward rock. Arcade Fire will continue their North American reign with a headlining set, as will the bluesy rock duo The Black Keys, a band that any real music-lover deserves to see in a live setting. Many of Bonnaroo’s attendees come in the hope of catching an act before they hit it big, and this year, the concert’s organizers have not disappointed. This year, Manchester will be graced by the presence of the 10-piece gypsy rock band Gogol Bordello (whose live act has to be seen to be believed). Grace Potter & the Nocturnals graduate to a bigger stage and a more prominent time slot this year, so catch them before they start selling out arenas across the country. For those in search of buzz bands, seek out the sets by the lo-fi Smith Westerns or the clearly California based and influenced Wavves. Looking for a laugh? Bonnaroo has delivered the best once again with the fest’s inclusion of the hilarious star of Community Donald Glover and Saturday Night Live scribe and comedian Hannibal Buress.
Although concert organizers have yet to announce this year’s lineup, advanced tickets have already sold out in anticipation of one of the greatest, most wide ranging music festivals in the world. Last year, Lady Gaga returned to the festival in spectacular fashion, transporting her entire Monster Ball to Chicago’s Grant Park, just a stone’s throw away from where President Barack Obama delivered his victory speech on election night in 2008. In the same summer (and at the same time as Lady Gaga’s set, in fact) The Strokes made a splash with a return to music and the promise of a new album. Additionally, smaller acts made waves with their smashing performances at the widely attended show. The British singer Dan Black tore up the small stage he was given in a concise but memorable 45-minute block, serving up saucy electro-beats for the overheated crowd. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros were high on the success of last summer’s hit “Home,” a tune that breezily wafted throughout the park. Last summer, Green Day hit the fest on its Saturday night, as did Phoenix and the thrilling Australian electro-group Empire of the Sun. Mumford and Sons played surely last small stage in its career. As for this summer, one can only guess at the lineup, but expect to see the return of a `90s band (think Jane’s Addiction), the emergence of a newer buzz band (probably the retro Fitz and the Tantrums), and a larger rap act of some sort. (Eminem would make the most sense, but Cee-Lo and Goodie Mob are rumored to reunite.)