2018 Summer Festival Roundup
With the winter thaw starting to come on, folks in North America are starting to plan their summer vacations – whether it’s a hedonistic weekend at an EDM festival or a quiet weekend in the woods, there’s no wrong way to relax in the hotter months. If you are a fan of live music, chances are you’re excited to check out a music festival this summer, whether it’s a three-night outdoor camping extravaganza or a more urban festival where you can come and go as you please, there’s something out there for all and any music lovers.
While there are more options out there than we could ever cover in a single post, we’re going to look at two festivals in each of the aforementioned categories: camping festivals catered to fans of improvisational (aka “Jam Band” music) and more straight-ahead indie rock festivals with day pass options. Music lessons at Long & McQuade are a great way to into the musical party mood of summer, you could even learn some of your favourite jams on the guitar to gain a greater appreciation of the magic of rock ‘n roll!
Without further ado, here’s a roundup of some fantastic festivals to consider:
Where: Wellston, Michigan
When: May 31–June2
Greensky Bluegrass band is arguably the best bluegrass in the world. They have an incredible light show and their huge sound and versatile dynamics give them the power to transcend the traditional bluegrass aesthetic, rivaling jam bands like Phish and The Disco Biscuits in terms of intensity and energy. The festival also features up and coming Billy Strings as well as a set from Mike Gordon (bassist of Phish) and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco fame). Upstate Michigan is the setting for the festival, and attendees will be able to hike, bike and swim in the stunning wilderness. A great option for lovers of bluegrass and the outdoors.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: July 20-22
The venerable taste-making music website has been hosting this day-pass festival for years, hosting a widely variegated and often surprising (R. Kelly headlined one year) artists over the years. This year’s festival will feature Australian psyche-rock giants Tame Impala, Virginian rapper DRAM and the hard rocking Vancouver duo Japandroids. One of the best things about this festival is that visitors can explore Chicago at their leisure, checking in and out of the festival whenever they want!
Where: Watkins Glen, New York
When: August 17-19
If you don’t like Phish, this festival is not for you. The biggest and best jam band in the world – Phish – will be hosting their eleventh festival in upstate New York this summer as part of their summer tour. It will likely sell out and there will be tens of thousands of people there. The band puts their budget to good use, creating a surreal landscape of art and bizarre activities to engage in, often performing ambient late night sets for those who never sleep. If you love Phish, Curveball is like Christmas morning when you were a little kid. If you lean more towards Pitchfork and indie rock, Curveball may well be your idea of hell. The band, who is said to have picked up the torch of improvisational rock gods, The Grateful Dead, are getting long in the tooth themselves, but they’re still at the top of their game, so now would be a perfect time to groove out to their psychedelic jams.
Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: June 2-June 3
While the lineup is yet to be announced, this family-friendly daytime festival hosted by the Toronto indie label Arts and Crafts has never disappointed. Past headliners include Interpol, Modest Mouse, Pavement, and the label’s flagship artist: Broken Social Scene. Local food vendors and craft beer saturate this hipster extravaganza, and there’s even a kid’s stage where you might the likes of Bahamas or Feist serenading children with indie rock lullabies. As big festivals go, this is one of the most down to earth, easy to navigate festivals. If you live in Toronto, it’s easy to get the Fort York Commons by transit or bike (the festival even features a unique bike valet service). If you don’t live in Toronto, Field Trip is an excellent excuse to visit!