Fuzzy boots. Glitter and fishnets. Socialites and influencers scattered across the desert in a pop of neon sparkles. From Coachella – the place to see and be seen – and Burning Man – home for the eccentric – these are the usual suspects when it comes to festival season (which is kind of all year now).
But things don’t start and end with the Electric Daisy Carnival and Lollapalooza. The insane popularity of music festivals has resulted in a saturated market, meaning there are a ton of options aside from the obvious that appeal to music fans everywhere. We’ve compiled a list of five must-see festivals for music-lovers looking for something different.
A concept born from a documentary and debuted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Afropunk festival sought to create a community for the marginalized and sidelined. What began as a celebration of the black experience within the primarily white punk movement has evolved into a celebration of diverse black culture in the modern sphere. Music, art, fashion and film are all on stage in this festival, referred to as “the other Black experience.”
Stateside shows take place in Brooklyn and Atlanta. Although dates and the 2020 lineup haven’t been officially announced, previous acts have included Janelle Monae, Ice Cube, FKA Twigs, Jill Scott and Danny Brown. They also have a pretty stellar program where attendees can earn a ticket by volunteering in their community.
Desert Daze is all about music as an experience. Like a rebirth of notorious Woodstock in the ‘60s, this three-day fest in October brings an exciting lineup of psych, garage and experimental rock acts against the Southern California desert backdrop immersed in trippy art installations and projections meant to expand your mind. Vice Magazine summed it up perfectly as “a surrealist’s playground that reminds us what festivals were like before festivals were Festivals.”
We’re still anxiously awaiting this year’s lineup to be announced, but if it’s anything like last year – which featured The Flaming Lips, Wu Tang, Devo and Stereolab, just to name a few – it’s sure to be a top choice for anyone looking to get weird.
Most festivals tend to favor pop, rock or electronic artists, but Stagecoach is the music festival for country fans. Stagecoach is one of the biggest country music festivals in the world and a total bucket list event for country fans. Setting stage in Indio, California, this year’s lineup features major acts like Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Thomas Rhett and ZZ Top.
Guy Fieri returns again this year to showcase his BBQ skills and feed hungry fans. Known as the “sister” festival to Coachella, this fest takes place on the same grounds the following weekend in April.
Rap and hip hop are everything at Rolling Loud, and this year’s main headliners include A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and Post Malone. But the weekend is jammed with acts – from solid mainstream names to up-and-coming Soundcloud stars.
A who’s who list spans this three-day extravaganza in May at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Rick Ross, Juicy J, Megan Thee Stallion, $uicideBoy$, T Pain, Fetty Wapp, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert and Ski Mask the Slump God are just a handful of headliners leading this year’s blowout event. Rolling Loud has earned the title of the largest Hip-Hop festival in the world. For fans of the genre, this is the top collective mashup of must-see artists each year.
The original “alternative” music festival, Pitchfork pays homage to a variety of indie, alternative and up-and-coming acts across every genre. This is where you’ll see some big-name headliners alongside bands you may have heard of in Rolling Stone or Pitchfork’s own mag but just haven’t gotten around to checking out.
This year’s marks the 15th run of this celebrated fest, held in July at Union Park in Chicago. Featuring acts like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Run the Jewels, the National, Cat Power, Big Thief, and Thundercat, this is the alternative to Lollapalooza.