There’s a lot that goes into deciding which summer music festival to indulge in. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have the time, or the money, or the hula hooping energy to choose more than one music festival per year, so it’s important that you take your time researching and choose wisely.
Lucky for you, we did the research: taking into consideration location, lineup, affordability, best bang for your buck and uniqueness. Here’s our list of the best 2014 summer music festivals in the USA.
When: June 7-September 16, 2014
Lineup: Counting Crows, Schoolboy Q, Conor Oberst, Ingrid Michaelson, Gavin DeGraw, Gary Clark Jr., Chromeo, Grouplove, Portugal. The Man, and more.
About: Founded in 1986, the Summerstage Festival features artists spanning the World and American music genres, modern dance, spoken word, electronic music, and family programming.
Why We Like It: In case you haven’t heard, Central Park SummerStage is one of the most amazing perks of being a summer New Yorker. The outdoor music series (one of NYC’s best summer music festivals) exists pretty much just for the purpose of giving The Big Apple a fun and easy source of entertainment on hot summer days (you know, with modest performances by names like Chromeo and Beck).
Where: Quincy, WA, USA
When: July 4-6, 2014
Ticket Price: Sold out, but available on TickPick under Sasquatch tickets
Lineup: Soundgarden, Frank Ocean, Oukast, M.I.A., Kid Cudi, Foster the People, Tegan & Sara, Of Montreal, Talib Kweli, Dillon Francis, Foals, Major Lazer, Cut Copy, Die Antwoord, Violent Femmes, Portugal the Man, Cold War Kids, Boys Noize, Phantogram and more.
About: The Gorge is an amphitheatre that sits above the Columbia River Gorge in George, Washington. Known for its spacious lawn-seating and breath-taking views of the river, named the top outdoor venue in the United States. Sasquatch has on-site camping and the area’s summer weather is generally perfect outdoor concert weather. Washingtonians are chill.
Why We Like It: Honestly, everyone I have ever met from the Sasquatch area (weirdly quite a few) is the absolute dopest. Sasquatch is like Bonnaroo’s beautiful boyfriend, who is into all the coolest music and has no idea its really “cool.” He probably doesn’t even know what cool means, because that’s how cool people stay cool I guess. Awesome lineup plus cool, laidback crowd plus the best possible venue you could hope to lay eyes on, because seriously, important people declared it so. And so it shall be that Sasquatch is awesome.
3. Essence Fest
When: July 3-5, 2014
Ticket Price: Starting at $58 on Essence Fest site
Lineup: Nas, Prince, Janelle Monae, Nile Rodgers, Mary J Blige, Jill Scott, The Roots, Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, Erykah Badu, Tamar Braxton, Trey Songz, and more.
About: The Essence Festival is where New Orleans comes together to celebrate entertainment and culture like no other festival in the world. Each year, over 540,000 people attended right there, where they’ve been since 1993.
Why We Like It: There’s nothing like experiencing music in New Orleans, and add to the mix some of the best artists in the WORLD? Done and done.
When: June 25-29, July 1-6, 2014
Ticket Price: Starting at $18 (??!!!!!) on Summerfest site
Lineup: Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, Bruno Mars, Outkast, Paramore, Usher, Ludacris, Phoenix, the Hold Steady, Arctic Monkeys, Kip Moore, Nas, B.o.B., Zac Brown Band, Babe Ruth
About: Older than Woodstock, Summerfest has been hosting big names and even bigger crowds since 1968, and this year’s edition features 800 acts scheduled across 11 days.
Why We Like It: The pricing structure is actually incredibly reasonable, and convenient as well. And I mean, come on. What other fest can beat an 800-act lineup?
Where: Chicago, IL, USA
When: August 1-3, 2014
Ticket Price: Sold-Out (Reselling for $350)
Lineup: Eminem, Kings of Leon, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Calvin Harris, Lorde, The Avett Brothers, Foster The People, Zedd, Nas and more.
About: Lollapalooza is more than just a music festival. Taking place each year in historic Grant Park, Lolla is a three-day cultural experience that takes place on 115 acres between Downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.
Why We Like It: Lollapalooza is a great opportunity to explore Downtown Chicago, feast on miles of food festival, chill by Lake Michigan, and see a great lineup with numerous acts that you won’t be able to catch anywhere else.
When: June 12-15, 2014
Ticket Price: Starting at FREE, ending with bigger individual shows like CHVRCHES available on TickPick
Lineup: The War On Drugs, CHVRCHES, Sharon Von Etten, Titus Andronicus, and more.
About: Northside (named for the general area of Brooklyn in which it takes place) sits between two festival extremes – mega-priced behemoth vs. Hunger Games for ultra hip buzz band baby – without ever really being either.
Why We Like It: Mixed in with Brooklyn festival mainstays like Beirut and Titus Andronicus are the likes of Syrian artist Omar Souleyman and Canadian composer Mas Ysa. Even better, several shows, including Chvrches on the 15th, are free or all-ages – and the festival’s relatively small size means you still might actually get to see them.
Where: Chicago, IL, USA
When: July 18-20, 2014
Ticket Price: $60
Lineup: Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Grimes, Danny Brown, Tune-Yards, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, Cloud Nothings, Twin Peaks and more.
About: The independently run Pitchfork Music Festival has consistently proven to be one of the most welcoming, comfortable, reasonably priced and rewarding weekends of music around. In addition to its musical offerings, the event features a wide array of other activities for its 50,000 attendees.
Why We Like It: We almost want to hate this festival what with how hip music hub Pitchfork is, but unsurprisingly, the lineup is far too dope to hate. Also, this is one of the cheapest music festivals out there (in terms of music festivals worth mentioning). Also also, Pitchfork’s lineup is one of the most unique out there.
When: July 23-26, 2014
Ticket Price: $65 via Merge 25 site
Lineup: Superchunk, Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bob Mould, Imperial Teen, Lambchop, Wye Oak, the Clientele, Destroyer, Ex Hex, the Mountain Goats, the Love Language, Eleanor Friedberger, Caribou, Reigning Sound
About: To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the indie that put out notable records by Arcade Fire, Spoon, Magnetic Fields and Superchunk (whose Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance in fact founded the label), a handful of its best and brightest are performing at the four-day Merge 25 fest in Durham and Carrboro, North Carolina.
Why We Like It: Among the many confirmed artists, Neutral Milk Hotel, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Mould, Imperial Teen and, of course, Superchunk, will perform, and indie rockers Lambchop will play their 2000 Merge touchstone Nixon in its entirety.
When: June 19-22, 2014
Ticket Price: $279
Lineup: Foo Fighters, Outkast, Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Beck, Weezer, Broken Bells, Young the Giant, Tegan and Sara, Girl Talk, Cage the Elephant, Portugal the Man, Local Natives and more.
About: Firefly Music Festival’s tagline is “The East Coast’s Premier Music Experience.” The festival takes place in The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, an 105-acre festival ground, over the span of four days. Many nationally known musical acts performed at the festival, with 48 performances held over the course of the festival in 2012, 71 bands in 2013, and 95 bands scheduled to perform in 2014.
Why We Like It: Firefly is one of the most philanthropic music festivals out there right now, so when you buy a ticket, you can feel like you’re actually doing something good for others (in addition to having an awesome time). As a sustainable and environmentally friendly festival, attendees have the option of donating to the carbon footprint offsetting program when purchasing their tickets online, and the festival matches each of these donations up until the festival is completely carbon neutral. The festival is also partnered with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital;in 2012, Firefly attendees raised over $4.6 million for Music Gives to St. Jude Kids. And if all the humanitarianism doesn’t convince you, take the fact that this is basically the East Coast’s version of Bonnaroo. Nuff said? Nuff said.
When: July 18-20, 2014
Ticket Price: $184.50 via Forecastle site
Lineup: Outkast, Jack White, Beck, Spoon, Against Me!, Yoakam, Jones, Carll, Waxahatchee, Gary Clark Jr., Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jason Isbell, the Replacements, Jenny Lewis, Charli XCX, and more.
About: As the headliners – Jack White, Beck, Outkast – suggest, Forecastle is a festival for alt-country and Americana fans who aren’t afraid of a little pop. That perspective makes the lineup here relatively unique, with artists like Dwight Yoakam, Sharon Jones, Hayes Carll, Action Bronson and Waxahatchee
Why We Like It: Performing on the shore of the Ohio River? Um yes.
When: September 26-28, 2014
Ticket Price: $357
Lineup: Avicii, David Guetta, Diplo, Kaskade, Skrillex, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Zedd and more.
About: TomorrowWorld is a 3-day festival (and 5-day camping experience) nestled within 8,000 acres of expansive forests and lakes known for mind-blowing décor, massive artist line-ups, A-class camping, and gourmet food. In 2013, TomorrowWorld was the first European electronic music festival of its scale in the US, hailing from Belgium, where the mother festival TomorrowLand will be celebrating its tenth anniversary. This September 2014, the second edition of TomorrowWorld will take place in Chattahoochee Hills, just outside Atlanta, Georgia.
Why We Like It: So this one is kind of late to be called a “summer festival”, but it’s too dope to leave out of the list. As the first US festival to set a minimum age of 21, TomorrowWorld lacks the juvenile craziness of a landmass filled with inebriated teenagers. Known for its insane staging and craftsmanship, TomorrowWorld’s stages and concepts come to life, creating truly unique experiences and amazing musical explorations.
When: June 26-29, 2014
Ticket Price: $264.50
Lineup: Lauryn Hill, STS9, String Cheese Incident, Zedd, Cut Copy, Excision, Flying Lotus, Zeds Dead, The Glitch Mob, Tycho, Moby, Matt & Kim, Schoolboy Q, Aloe Blacc and more.
About: Entering its fourth year, Electric Forest is known for bringing together a passionate group of fans creating a community spirit makes the festival a unique experience. The festival incorporates natural beauty with art pieces and creatively themed environments, while interactive characters and storylines blend with eclectic performing artists and musicians.
Why We Like It: The “Sherwood Forest” venue is unlike any other. It glows with neon lights and is scattered with hundreds of surprises like art installations, hidden treehouses, private parties, and of course, live music day and night.
Like our list of Summer Music Festivals in the USA in 2014? Wanna bash it? Leave us comments and questions below! We’d love to hear your opinions.