Woodstock. Glastonbury. Lollapalooza. Austin City Limits. Bonnaroo. Coachella.
We’ve all heard of them – music festivals are nothing new, but they’ve become even more popular in recent years. Though they used to be considered alternative, they’re now mainstream, plastered all over our favorite celebrities’ social media accounts. Take a look at Instagram for instance: #glastonbury yields over 300,000 results. #coachella yields 1.7 million. Festival Culture, meet Mainstream Culture.
We recently asked our Music Designers about their favorite music festivals.
What’s on your bucket list? For Civonne Ray, it’s to head west to California for Coachella. Jim Fisher would agree that it should be at the top, naming it his favorite festival. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held each year at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Though it was officially founded by Paul Tollett in 1999, its beginnings can be followed back to a 1993 Pearl Jam concert put on at the Empire Polo Club while boycotting venues under Ticketmaster’s thumb. Today, the festival is a six day affair that is considered one of the most famous festivals in the United States. This year’s lineup included acts such as Built to Spill, Drake, Lee Foss and George Ezra. On top of the “perfect mix of indie and popular artists” that she loves, there are “really cool theatrics, vendors and booths to check out.” As Civonne would say, it’s “dope!”
Did you know? Several stages host live music at once at this festival; main stages include Coachella Stage, Outdoor Theatre, Govi Tend, and Mojave Tent. In 2014, the festival saw 579,000 attendees over the span of six days and grossed $78.3 million.
An Austin favorite, Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival ranks number one for Erick Bohorquez. Held in Zilker Park on two three-day weekends in October every year, the festival is produced by the same company that produces Lollapalooza. Listed as one of 5 American Festivals to look forward to by Forbes in 2014, ACL has eight stages where 75,000 people per day watch performances from artists in genres spanning from indie to electronic to hip-hop. For Erick, the draw comes from the fact that there is “cooler weather in October – and it’s in Austin!” What more do you need?
Find out which performers made David Sheyda’s Top 5 Favorite Performances of ACL 2014 here.
Did you know? The Austin City Limits television series focused on singer/songwriters, performers, and instrumentalists out of Austin and contributed heavily to the fame that the festival now basks in. Since its rise in popularity, acts such as Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, and Elvis Costello have all performed.
Bumbershoot, held in Seattle each Labor Day weekend, is Joel Oltyan’s favorite festival. Though it’s local for him, it offers the diversity that he loves. Bumbershoot began as a city-funded festival in 1971 and attracted 125,000 visitors. Today, it is considered the region’s largest single showcase for regional talent and has made it possible for other events such as the Northwest Folklife Festival to become staples of the area. “Every music genre gets represented,” Joel says. “There are acts from headliners to buskers, eclectic circus acts, [and] dramatic readings.”
Did you know? The word bumbershoot means umbrella. Fittingly, it’s hosted at the site of the 1962 World’s Fair.
Mark Shapiro prefers Fun Fun Fun Fest (AKA FFF Fest)– as do Mandi LeBlanc and Amy Frishkey. There are four stages at this annual music and comedy festival held in Austin each November, and this present “lots of opportunities to take great shots.”
You can find Mark Shapiro’s 2014 FFF Fest recap and pictures here.
FFF Fest was founded in 2006 and continues to be the only genre-based festival in the U.S., focusing specifically on hip-hop, indie rock, punk, and comedy. The highlight of Mandi’s experience at this festival comes from the amount of “diverse types of artists and bands, comedy, skateboarding, BMX biking and art.” To her, it’s “always a good time!” Amy appreciates the “quality and eclecticism of the acts – the Sparks show in particular!”
Did you know? FFF Fest is known for its dedication to Austin’s unique culture, featuring street food from local favorites, pop-up shops, and record stores. It also works with new musicians to expose them to the national stage – there’s a rich history here of finding new talent that eventually ends up on mainstream radio. Past performers include Spoon, Weird Al Yankovic, Girl Talk, and MGMT.
Brad Pressley’s heart is set on this year’s Hopscotch Festival in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. He believes it looks promising for several reasons, especially that Mood’s own Bo White is a feature – “and that’s always a treat!”
This year’s headliner – Dwight Yoakam – is “not an obvious choice,” but a wise one, Brad says. “He just dropped an amazing album this year, and I think his presence will be satisfying for the attendees.”
The rest of the “cherry picked” artists carry the same theme of not being obvious, but wise: TV on the Radio, X, Roky Erickson, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Battles, and Deerhunter will make for a “very eclectic, rewarding concert experience!”
Did you know? This annual 3-day festival was created by Greg Lowenhagen while he was working with the Independent Weekly. After moving to Raleigh from Chicago and Austin, he says he realized that the area, “with its strong music heritage and abundance of local talent, seemed ready for a different, more nationally recognizable festival to call its own.”
Who run the (music) world? Jay Z, apparently, with Tristan Bolden’s favorite festival: Made in America. “Although it’s relatively new, Jay Z’s procured eclectic lineup tempts me every year,” he says. Founded by Jay Z and Steve Stoute, it made its debut in September 2012 to $5 million in ticket sales and 80,000 attendees. The festival features three stages of live music along with vendors, food trucks and carnival games at Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Jay Z’s goal is to bring the music world together, saying that, “no matter what lines you put – country, indie rock, rap – we’re all somehow gonna find a way to come together ‘cause the lines and the titles can never keep us apart.”
See how Jay Z makes this happen with Tristan’s recap of the 2013 Made in America here.
Did you know? Though Jay Z tried to expand the festival to Los Angeles in 2014 in order to have two simultaneously running shows, it will return only to Philadelphia this year.
We think Festival Culture and Mainstream Culture will get along just fine.
– Compiled by Kylie Moore, Marketing