Your Essential Guide to This Year’s Summer Music Festivals
Issue   |   Tue, 05/05/2015 - 22:52
This summer’s notable musical festivals include Bonnaroo, Pitchfork Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Firefly, Gathering of the Vibes and Governor’s Ball.

Here in Amherst, the weather is just starting to warm up, and summer is just around the corner. And with summer comes a slew of music festivals across the nation. With nearly every weekend from now to the start of the next academic year booked with festivals of various genres in myriad locations, the opportunities to sport Chocos (or Tevas, if that is more your thing) and appreciate mellifluous jams are endless. Whether you are looking to groove it out in the farmlands of Tennessee or crowd surf your way to the front of an EDM concert in the heart of a major city, the list below has you covered. In order to make the most out of your summer and connect with the music that moves you the most, check out this guide to the top summer festivals of 2015.

Hangout Music Fest
When: May 15-17
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Why: Hand in your last philosophy paper, finish the last response on your physics exam, and head down to this relaxed venue on the white sandy shores of Alabama. Founded in 2010, this event invites attendees to sing and dance to their favorite songs, while the waves of the Gulf of Mexico crash in the background. With a lineup that includes headliner acts like The Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, My Morning Jacket, Zac Brown Band, Cold War Kids and Skrillex, The Hangout has a little something for everyone.

Summer Camp Music Festival
When: May 22-24
Where: Chillicothe, Illinois (Northern Illinois)
Why: There are a handful of festivals this weekend, but Summer Camp separates itself from the pack through its cohesive, jam-band lineup. The festival boasts sets from Widespread Panic, Steve Miller Band, John Butler Trio and Krewella. Klingande, the creators of everyone’s favorite saxophone riff in “Jubel,” are among the lineup as well. The festival also aims to increase social and environmental awareness through its Make a Difference program.

Governor’s Ball
When: June 5-7
Where: New York, New York
Why: This metropolitan festival on Randall’s Island in the Big Apple is known for its diverse lineup of musical superstars and up-and-coming New York based artists. Although this year’s lineup is not as strong as it has been in the past, it is still promising with Drake, The Black Keys, Deadmau5 and Lana Del Ray all expected to perform. Lesser known, but extremely talented artists Moon Taxi, an indie-progressive rock band from Nashville, and Logic, a dazzling rapper from Maryland, are also on the ticket.

When: June 11-14
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Why: The country’s leading summer festival proves its superiority once again through an extensive, star-studded lineup that includes Billy Joel, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Deadmau5, Kendrick Lamar and the newly revamped Mumford & Sons. Festival-goers should expect to see a soulful, energizing set from Alabama Shakes, whose second album recently hit No. 1 on the music charts after consistent touring and a heap of spellbound reviews. Expect to emerge thoroughly sunburned, exceptionally dirty and ridiculously impressed from this one. Country lovers who are not interested in Bonnaroo’s lineup can head to Nashville for the CMA Music Festival that same weekend.

When: June 18-21
Where: Dover, Delaware
Why: Set up camp in the woods of Delaware and listen to the likes of Paul McCartney, the Killers, Hozier, Kid Cudi and Snoop Dogg. Firefly’s lineups are always extremely balanced, with high-quality, multi-genre artists jamming relentlessly throughout the weekend. Enjoy the energetic tunes of Matt & Kim and Chiddy Bang, the melodic remixes of Kygo and the rocking tunes of Cold War Kids and Citizen Cope. And there’s an Amherst connection: The Chainsmokers are set to make an appearance as well. Those looking for a weekend filled with thunderous beats and drops in the heart of the Las Vegas should aim for the Electric Daisy Carnival occurring the same weekend as Firefly.

When: June 24-28 and June 30-July 5
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Why: Recently dubbed mankind’s largest music festival, this 11-day, 11-stage event is both extensive in its lineup and affordable. The lineup goes on and on with an eclectic group of megastars like The Rolling Stones, Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park, Sheryl Crow, Jane’s Addiction and Kendrick Lamar set to perform. Attendees should be sure not to miss Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform. The eccentric, foot stomping indie folk artist features a revolving band of up to 12 people and promises a tremendously good time.

Green River
When: July 10-12
Where: Greenfield, Massachusetts
Why: Unlike many of the aforementioned festivals, Green River is a family friendly event for all ages, complete with guitar jams and hot air balloons. There are no EDM raves or late-night silent discos, but the lineup boasts a number of killer folk bands like Langhorne Slim, The Tune-Yards and the Woods Brothers.

When: July 17-19
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why: Pitchfork is quickly gaining prominence as one of the country’s top music festivals, alongside Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Why? It is wonderfully organized, located in Chicago’s Union Park and chocked full of superb music. This year promises great performances from the likes of Wilco, Chance the Rapper, Chvrches and Future Islands.

Newport Folk and Jazzfest
When: July 24-26 and July 31-August 2
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Why: Both of these events are held by the seaside and promise excellent lineups. The Folk Festival is home to Americana, where the latest artists in folk, rock and soul come to shine. This year Leon Bridges, Shakey Graves, The Decemberists, José González and many more aim to impress. Alternatively, Jazzfest, which celebrates its 61st birthday this year, invigorates attendees with its groovy lineup of jazz superstars. Joey Alexander, an 11-year-old jazz superstar, is certain to enthrall.

Gathering of the Vibes
When: July 30-August 2
Where: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Why: This summer the remaining members of the Grateful Dead plan to play one last big show in Chicago. Unfortunately, tickets, which were understandably pricey, sold out quickly. Don’t fret. Enjoy a flashback to the 1960s during this seaside festival that aims to honor the Grateful Dead. The lineup echoes the jamming sound of the Dead through artists like the String Cheese Incident, Gregg Allman, Zappa Plays Zappa and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. One original Dead member, Bill Kresutzmann, is set to perform with his new band, Billy and the Kids.

When: July 31-August 2
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why: Little needs to be said about the prominence of this iconic music festival. For those less interested in the camping vibes associated with Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza is sure to deliver. As usual, the lineup is overflowing with some of the most talented artists in America, spanning nearly three generations of multi-genre music. Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Sam Smith, Bassnectar, alt-J, Alabama Shakes, Of Monsters and Men, Kygo, Kid Cudi, The Chainsmokers and Moon Taxi make up just a fraction of the extensive lineup.

Outside Lands
When: August 7-9
Where: San Francisco, California
Why: Three-day passes for this festival sold out within hours. (One-day passes are still on sale.) And rightfully so. Located in the beautiful Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands offers one of the strongest lineups on this list. Sway to the melodies of musical luminary, Elton John. Welcome Mumford & Sons back into the music industry. Croon with Sam Smith. Dance with Billy Idol. Jam with Slightly Stoopid. Finish off your summer with Outside Lands.