Though summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, the traditional marker of Memorial Day is quickly approaching, and One Thirty BPM is preparing for trips to Primavera Sound and Sasquatch to kick off our summer. Don’t worry, we’ll bring back pictures and words to share with you.
But, these are not the only major music festivals happening this summer. What are our picks for the best and brightest in summer mass-concerts for your consumption? We have put together a little preview for you to enjoy below, showcasing music festivals large and small, many of which we will be bringing you reports from, and which we hope will get you out of your house and into the sun for a weekend or two.
So, without further rambling, we bring you our Summer Music Festival Preview. Enjoy.
Photo by Christopher Alvarez
Lineup: The Flaming Lips, Pulp, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, OFWGKTA, Belle & Sebastian, The National, PJ Harvey, Mogwai
A Few Words: Now in its eleventh year, San Miguel Primavera Sound has become one of the top destinations in the world for music lovers, attracting a maximum of 35,000 attendees a day in 2010. In true Catalan tradition, Primavera starts later in the day than most festivals, but the music doesn’t end until sunrise. In case a Barcelona location wasn’t enviable enough, the festival site is directly on the Mediterranean at Parc del Forum and features eight stages, including the indoor Auditori that will host two sets from Sufjan Stevens. New in 2011 are two additional days of music at the limited capacity Poble Espanyol, the original festival site of Primavera, and with artists including Echo & the Bunnymen performing Heaven Up Here and Crocodiles, Mercury Rev performing Deserter’s Songs, Caribou, Nisennenmondai, and Deakin, those days are not just an added bonus but downright essential.
The long-awaited return of Pulp is clearly the top star of the weekend (and 2011’s must-see reunion), but who is the Saturday headliner: Animal Collective or PJ Harvey? Both, actually, and the same applies to Thursday’s co-headliners Grinderman and The Flaming Lips. Primavera shuns the traditional headliner system in favor of a wide top tier consisting mostly of acts on equivalent footing over a single superstar per day. What also makes the Primavera Sound lineup special is how it relies less on safe, crossover acts (so, no Mumford & Sons) and more on edgier, esoteric fare like Einstürzende Neubauten. After all, ATP and Pitchfork each curate a stage. Other lineup highlights are Belle & Sebastian, Explosions in the Sky, James Blake, Mogwai, Odd Future, Yuck, and Big Boi, while late night electronic offerings include DJ Shadow, Simian Mobile Disco, Girl Talk, and two Kode9 sets. The final day at Parc del Forum coincides with the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United, so prepare for a riotous good time in Plaça de Catalunya at the end of the night.
– Frank Mojica
Lineup: Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse, Wilco, The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin), Death Cab For Cutie, Robyn, Local Natives, Death From Above 1979, The Decemberists, Bright Eyes
Tickets: Sold Out
A Few Words: Location, location, location. Undeniably the greatest thing George, Washington’s Sasquatch Music Festival has going for it is the physical magnificence of its host venue, the Gorge Amphitheatre. Widely considered the best outdoor music venue around, the Gorge itself is a massive presence when backdropping the bigger names on the festival’s considerable lineup, and the other three stages aren’t too bad either. Though last year’s Yeti stage was plagued by sound issues during sets by WHY? and No Age, the festival’s crew mostly achieves a tightly run operation. The festival organizers have again assembled a lineup sure to generate scheduling conflicts and force some frustrating decisions (they’re pitting The Flaming Lips and Flying Lotus against each other!), but really that’s kind of a good thing, and speaks to the overall quality of the artists billed.
Festival staples The Flaming Lips and Wilco are there, joined by Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse at the top of the list. Also in tow are indie darlings Beach House, Deerhunter, Yeasayer, Surfer Blood, The Antlers, Wavves, Best Coast, Smith Westerns, etc. and Canada’s hilarious Trailer Park Boys bringing the chuckles. My favorite live act of all time, !!!, is on the bill along with giants J Mascis and The Decemberists. One of the best parts of Sasquatch is its affinity for reunited legends. Last year saw Pavement, who fucked around with us in classic Pavement fashion, sandwiched between LCD Soundsystem and Massive Attack, and this year Guided By Voices and (wow) Archers of Loaf get to hang out with the young folks, maybe teach ‘em a thing or two. A reunited Death From Above 1979 will also play. If Sasquatch leaves anything to be desired, its in the electronic and dance music department. Sure we’ve got FlyLo, Gold Panda and Bassnectar, but fucking Skrillex? Seriously?
The camping situation at Sasquatch is lovely and painless, and while it’s kind of a drag that the last performance of each day wraps up around 12:30am, the campground parties rage into the wee hours. The festival attracts all types of people from all over (my car drove all the way to Washington from New Jersey, yes seriously, and we were camped next to some friendly Canadians) and the vibes are generally welcoming and considerate. You’re more likely to see bros playing pong on top of a trailer than dreadlocked drumcirclers, but those folks are there too, and if you ask nicely, just about anyone will help you out or point you in the right direction. It’s a younger and hipper crowd than Bonnaroo’s, and its a difference that can be felt, but you’re likely to find whatever kind of fun you’re looking for at Sasquatch.
– FM Stringer
Lineup: Atmosphere, Big Boi, Slaughterhouse, De La Soul, Brother Ali, Doomtree, Curren$y, Mac Miller, Zion-I and The Grouch, Blueprint
A Few Words: What began as a humble celebration of underground hip-hop in 2008, Minneapolis’ Soundset festival has grown into one of the state’s largest music festivals, drawing huge acts from around the country. Centered around Minneapolis rap label Rhymesayers, Soundset features four-time headliners Atmosphere closing out another Memorial Day weekend. There’s also Brother Ali, Evidence, Doomtree, and Blueprint representing the chief label in its hometown. Big Boi, on the heels of last year’s great Son of Chico Dusty will be anchoring the lineup along with superstar collective Slaughterhouse, the collaboration of Royce Da 5’9”, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Crooked I. Everybody’s favorite Gorillaz hook-men De La Soul will also be there, catering to the more soulful hip-hop fans in the crowd. There’s also a B-boy and DJ tent, featuring some fun freestyle action all day, and a custom car show for those crazy people who can’t stay in one place all day. What makes Soundset unique is that it feels more like a celebration of music than some of the other more large scale festivals throughout the summer. It might be difficult for some people to think of the upper-midwest as a premier destination for hip-hop, but thanks to Rhymesayers’ tireless work and Atmosphere’s growing fame, Soundset has blossomed into a star studded affair that features a variety of artists and a “Minnesota nice” attitude to boot.
– Erik Burg
Lineup: Eminem, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The Strokes, Buffalo Springfield, My Morning Jacket, Lil Wayne, Mumford & Sons, Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy, The Decemberists
Tickets: Sold Out
A Few Words: This year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, marks the event’s 10th anniversary. Headlined by Arcade Fire, Eminem, Buffalo Springfield, The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, Mumford & Sons, The Strokes, and too many exciting undercard acts to list (okay, I can’t help it: Ray LaMontagne! The Decemberists! Sleigh Bells!). It’s not difficult to see the allure. But Bonnaroo hasn’t become one of the summer’s most popular events solely for its consistently great music. They’ve also booked great comedy acts and have lined up an ample amount of peripheral entertainment and concessions.
As far as festivals go, you’ll find that the food and drink options are surprisingly good. It goes without saying that you’re going to pay too much, but even the prices aren’t as outrageous as you might expect. An angus burger might run you five bucks, but it’ll be a damn good burger. Of course, the vendors change year to year. But take heed of this advice: if you see banners advertising alligator jambalaya, put down a blanket in the shade to reserve a spot and get in line. Its the best money you can spend on food while you’re there. Bonnaroo also offers good beer on tap and plenty of more hydrating options, which trust me, you’re going to need. Midsummer in Tennessee can be painfully hot, so be wise and take a few extra bucks for bottled water. And once you’ve bought a bottle, keep it. There are free refill stations scattered around the farm.
In addition to thirst-quenching cash, you might want to consider cab fare. Or, as the case may be, golf cart fare. Camp sites aren’t assigned, so where you end up setting up your quarters will be completely dependent on where you’re sent by the festival’s traffic directors. There’s a good chance you’ll be an unpleasant distance from the main gates (last year, my tent was about a mile and a half from the entrance). A golf cart taxi ride will run you another five dollars or so, but you can see how it’d be well worth it. Horror story to prove it: last year I lost my keys on the first night but didn’t realize it until returning to camp. I wound up walking a mile and a half back to the main entertainment area (known as Centeroo), then another mile and a half back to camp. Which reminds me: be smarter than me and keep an extra set of car keys handy.
For the $250 or so it costs to get in, Bonnaroo represents one of the smarter ways you can spend your dough and a week of vacation. For all the blistering heat (and, let’s be honest, porta-stink), nothing matches the non-stop party atmosphere that you get on the farm. This event isn’t like a show at your local venue where everyone more or less keeps to themselves. Its a certified social event. And, oh yeah, the line-up is pretty fantastic as well (Big Boi! Iron & Wine! Deerhunter! Matt & Kim!).
– Andrew Bailey
Photo by Andrew Allcock
Lineup: Coldplay, U2, Beyonce, Morrissey, Queens Of The Stone Age, Bright Eyes, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, Paul Simon, Primal Scream
Tickets: Sold Out
A Few Words: Located on a 1,000 hectare compound at Worthy Farm, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is England’s largest and most famous festival with 135,000 punters and 40,000 artists, crew, and volunteers. Fields dedicated to crafts, healing, circus performers, and the environment provides peaceful refuge and a wide range of sights and activities to enjoy during the day, but it is those six hours of night when the festival truly comes alive. Glastonbury features several late-night after hours areas overflowing with surprises. The 2011 incarnation of The Common is Latin America-themed, and attractions include a haunted bullring, Mexican wrestlers, and nude painting. DJs spin in the monstrous, fire-breathing Arcadia stage while a human Tesla coil freaks out the crowd, and the dystopian Shangri-la promises to once again bewilder many an intoxicated attendee with its labyrinth of interactive art displays and themed bars.
Glastonbury is an ultimate barhopping destination, with dozens of bars scattered throughout the site. It’s the kind of festival where demonic nurses sell syringes full of tequila a hop and a skip away from a shrine to Bono with fresh Guinness on tap. The hill of the infamous Stone Circle area has breath-taking views of the massive festival site and a relaxed party vibe that is at its liveliest from sunset to sunrise – just watch out for discarded canisters of laughing gas when returning to your tent. Apparently there is music at Glastonbury, too, but it is entirely possible to avoid the main stages entirely and still not experience everything else the festival has to offer. It’s five days of total immersion.
The festival of festivals celebrated its 40th birthday last year with a guest-filled headlining performance by Gorillaz, a secret set from Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, and surprise appearances from The Edge, Kylie, Jarvis Cocker, and Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith. In addition to superstars such as Beyoncé, Coldplay, Paul Simon, and Morrissey, and some of the hottest talent in this year’s festival circuit like Elbow, Lykke Li, Cee Lo Green, Fleet Foxes, Little Dragon, and Battles, the 2011 edition of Glastonbury is guaranteed to host an equally impressive collection of surprises and once-in-a-lifetime collaborations. Festival organizer Emily Eavis recently told NME that one of the Park Stage’s two “special guest” slots belongs to a band with headliner potential, thus opening the floodgates of rumor and speculation on the possibility of the lineup’s only true glaring, inexplicable omission being corrected: Pulp.
P.S. Did we mention that U2 is headlining? That’s a pretty big deal, right?