Dreamcatchers and Heatstroke: 17 Summer Fests Worth Your Dime

Caitlin Greene

photo by Sjimon Gompers

So you didn't go to Coachella because your friend's boyfriend's cousin's half-brother's weed dealer's extra ticket connection fell through? Well, dry your eyes and start looking ahead because Summer 2014 is basically one giant spirit quest opportunity, regardless of your music taste and preferred level of nakedness. There are Impose favorites at every turn—as well as some bands we can't believe still exist—but it's all part of the irresistible rigmarole known as the Summer Music Festival circuit. Below, we've narrowed it down to a sort of “Top 17,” based on no particular metrics other than some collective gut feelings and social media's mighty hand. Because Instagram FOMO was so 2013.

1. Austin Psych Fest

This year's fest boasts a strong lineup, with recent additions such as famously rival Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols. Here's to hoping Anton Newcombe doesn't throw any beer bottles at the audience as he's wont to do (but also, here's to hoping that he does).

2. MoogFest

After taking a year off to spruce up its curating strategy, Moog is back with with its most imaginative program yet, hoping to court the SXSW set with five days of performances, presentations, and exhibitions. Asheville takes the event very seriously as a means of putting itself on the cultural map, and it shows in this year's lineup.

3. Desert Daze

We've already complimented this event on its thinking-outside-the-box approach to psychedelia, and in the spirit of digging deeper, we've also been conducting an ongoing interview series with members of the lineup, including The Raveonettes, Deep Valley, Autolox, Liars, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

4. Riot Fest

Ever-committed to booking both greats and up-and-comers, Riot takes over Denver, Chicago, and Toronto early this fall and will do so on a larger scale than ever in honor of its 10-year anniversary. Full lineup details are not yet available, but, if last year was any indication—The Replacements and Guided by Voices were among performers—it's isn't likely to disappoint.

5. Pickathon

Last year, Vice dubbed it “the chillest music festival on planet earth,” owing to its attention to eco-friendliness and unique setup. X, Jonathan Richman, The Men, and our beloved Diarrhea Planet (among many others) are set to perform in 2014.

6. Sasquatch!

Due to lack of demand, Sasquatch recently suffered an unfortunate amputation of its inaugural second weekend, but the Memorial Day festivities are still on. That means you still get to see Waxahatchee, La Luz, and Tacocat in addition to some acts that were going to be cut due to the cancellation. Start making your “Save Sasquatch!” pins now.

7. Maryland Deathfest

The biggest metal party of the year is going down in a month, but not without the requisite lineup reshuffling. Black, death, and doom metal, as well as punk, hardcore, and grindcore are getting a whole Baltimore weekend to themselves. In addition to official shows, the festival has organized a handful of free shows at the nearby Sidebar venue.

8. Northside Festival

No longer just CMJ's hyped-up Summer sister, this event has turned into an institution in its own right, taking over North Brooklyn every year like imitation cronuts. Missing out would be somewhat physically difficult due to the festival's ubiquity. Full lineup here.

9. Pitchfork Music Festival

Chicago's Union Park is gearing up to host Pitchfork this year in late July. Last year, we went and made some special observations. Highlights of the diverse lineup include St. Vincent, Danny Brown, Cloud Nothings, Real Estate, Earl Sweatshirt, Death Grips, Grimes, and tUnE-yArDs.

10. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

Bonnaroo is still alive and kicking after thirteen years, holding its own amid competition from newer and headier iterations of the music festival. Is that a possible Elton John/Skrillex collaborative performance we smell? Probably not. Only time will tell.

11. Lollapalooza

Founded in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as his band's farewell tour, Lollapalooza is another member of the old guard of music festivals, booking big names like Eminem and Outkast. It costs a pretty penny, but you probably won't be heckled by any teenagers on acid, which is worth might be more than worth the extra cash you're going to have to drop.

12. Hangout Festival

This year's festival will host roughly 35,000 dedicated ocean creatures on the beautiful Alabama beaches for a relaxation-focused three days of music and parties. Conor Oberst isn't exactly synonymous with chilled-out beach vibes, but they need to keep it interesting somehow.

13. Stargayzer Festival

Behold, a three-day celebration of LGBTQIA music and performance, held in Austin. It takes place on a private, 20-acre ranch situated on the Colorado River banks. Over seventy musicians, DJs, MCs, drag performers, visual artists, comedians and performance artists from around the globe are slated to do their thing.

14. Outside Lands

This Bay Area fest is known for attracting huge crowds and getting a little rowdy, but it's not a bad way to spend the cold San Francisco summer nights. The April blogosphere has been abuzz with rumors and leaks as to the lineup. With most of it now confirmed, the internet oughtta settle down and start making travel plans.

15. Ende Tymes IV Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation

Bushwick's Silent Barn and Outpost Artists resources are getting together to host Ende Tymes IV, an annual celebration of noise, experimental music, and video art. Over the course of four nights, roughly fifty artists from all over the world will share their work. Genres like harsh noise, drone, modular synthesis, and what they are affectionately calling “Unclassifiable” are no stranger to the venue, known for fostering all things grassroots and avant-garde. Perhaps it sticks out in the list for taking place in a non-desert/forest environment, but we hope that won't deter you.

16. Deserted at the Palms

Wonder Valley, California! We don't know where it is either! But we're down for any mid-May festival in the California wilderness featuring Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Prince Rama, and…well, see the poster above. Especially considering Thee Oh Sees are fresh off their “indefinite hiatus.”

17. Woodist Festival

All you really need to know is that this takes place August 5 and 6 at the legendary Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, CA, maybe the most gorgeous place in the entire U. S. of A. The lineup features Woods (of course), Angel Olsen, White Fence, Kevin Morby, Real Estate, Foxygen, and more. Visit the website for more info.

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