Everyone knows the big names in music festivals (think Bonnaroo, Coachella, Ultra, Sasquach etc.) but there are some great smaller music festivals that are sure to cure the festival fever without causing major wallet damage. Here are my picks for the top 5 little known music festivals.
5. Bunbury Festival – Cincinnati, OH July 12-14
This downtown festival has six stages and three days of performances. The headliners include Fun. MGMT, Sky Ferreira, Tegan and Sara,Yo La Tengo, The National, and Daniel Martin Moore. Although you may have to spring for a hotel for the weekend instead of camping, you will still come in under budget because this festival is only $120 for all three days.
4. Wakarusa – Ozark, AR May 30-June 2
If you are looking for an intense camping experience in one of the most beautiful locations look no further than Wakarusa. I would say that this particular festival isn’t for everyone. It has an attractive line up but be prepared to have a primitive camping experience and be surrounded by some modern day hippies where music and shows are a way of life not just a summer distraction. Notable acts include Grouplove, Snoop Lion, Zeds Dead, Baauer, Icona Pop, Araabmuzik, RJD2, Widespread Panic, and my personal favorite, Amon Tobin. Be warned you will be dirty, smelly, and sweaty at the end of this one. Watch the promo video and you’ll know what I mean.
3. Hard Summer 2013 – Los Angeles, CA August 3-4
If you live anywhere near LA you’ll want to attend this show. In the past this series has some of the most elite electronic acts including Deadmau5, A-Trak, Borgore, Crystal Castles, and Flying Lotus. The festival lineup isn’t out yet for this year but tickets for a 3 day pass are about $120. It is definetly a bang for your buck.
2. Summer Camp – Chillicothe, IL May 24-26
This is another small camping festival that landed some big names this year. The lineup includes Big Boi, Diplo, Zeds Dead, STS9, Theievery Corporation, 3 days of Moe, and 3 days of Umphreys’s McGee. It has 7 stages and over 75 artists and at $115 it is a no-brainier. Like other mid-west camping festivals you’ll wanna be prepared for limited showers, bugs, and heat. If you can stand the stress it’ll be worth it and at ¼ the cost of Bonnaroo.
1. Forecastle – Louisville, KY July 12-14
This will be the 11th forecastle festival, and in the past few years this festival has gained some major publicity mostly due to the unique structure and setting of the weekend festival. It is a true music and arts festival that includes speakers and art tutorials as well as music. The setting is also unique. There are 5 stages in downtown Louisville on the water front (one stage is even under an interstate overpass). The after parties are on the historic bell of Louisville and range from 15-35 dollars for late night shows. This festival has become a popular one so it may be your last year to enjoy it at the low $145 price point.
When so many good lineups are released in one year it can be tempting to clean out your savings account on tickets, but it is important to look around at your options before committing to the priciest summer fest. Are there any we missed?