The music industry is an ever-changing beast. Who would have thought a decade ago, when iTunes and MP3s were blowing up before our very eyes and ears, that vinyl records would find an important niche in the way people consume music?
Well, vinyl records aren't the only tangible medium making a strong impact in music these days. Music festivals are more popular than they've ever been before, with new ones popping up left and right as they grow more diverse and expansive than ever before. Consider it the vinylification of live music consumption – the convenience of seeing several shows throughout the year in your hometown is trumped by the all-out awesomeness of traveling to one mega-festival (or more!).
You know the big names: Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza and SXSW. But there's so much more to the festival circuit – you've got weekends devoted to EDM, hip-hop, punk, alternative and indie music and the list goes on. The ultimate question for both experienced and newbie festival-goers: Which should I attend?
That's where we come in. We've compiled 20 essential festivals taking place this year, so you can decide yourself where you'll be headed. See you there!
SXSW is over now, but you can relive the festival with all our coverage here!
When: March 7-16
Where: Austin, TX
2013 Lineup Highlights: HAIM, Tegan & Sara, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, 21 Pilots, CHVRCHES, Charli XCX, ZZ Ward, Kendrick Lamar, Chuck Ragan
2014 Lineup Highlights: Big Freedia, Action Bronson, Charli XCX, Ryan Hemsworth, Perfect Pussy, Echosmith, Allen Stone and so, SO many more.
Why You Should Go: It's the best festival in the world for uncovering new raw talent. SXSW means hopping around bars and venues in Austin, mingling with a mixed group of music fans and music industry people and watching future stars earn their stripes. Of course, you get the big names, too – but half the fun is stumbling across a brand-new act, loving them, then bragging about it when that act blows up four months later.
Ultra 2014 may be over now, but you can check out highlights from the festival in our complete coverage wrap-up!
When: March 28-30
Where: Miami, FL
2013 Lineup Highlights: Swedish House Mafia, Afrojack, Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Crystal Castles, Boys Noize, Deadmau5, Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Disclosure, Armin Van Buuren, Bassnectar, Zedd, Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, more and more.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Avicii, David Guetta, Kaskade, Tiesto, Zedd, Carl Cox, Krewella, and that's just Phase One.
Why You Should Go: It's the most famous EDM festival in North America and for good reason. Do you see the highlights from 2013 up there? We could have kept adding more if we wanted. Also, Miami is a hell of a city to throw a huge party in. Last year's Ultra was two weekends, but apparently organizers decided that one weekend was the way to go – to offset that, expect a even more epic lineup than usual.
Coachella is in the books, but we were there to capture the whole weekend with words, photos and videos. Check out our coverage of Coachella 2014.
When: April 11-13
Where: Indio, CA
2013 Lineup Highlights: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blur, Stone Roses, Phoenix, Lou Reed, Postal Service, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New Order, Wu-Tang Clan.
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, The Replacements, Skrillex, Beck. Full lineup here!
Why You Should Go: Taking place in the middle of the desert, Coachella is a top-notch festival experience. It provides an argument each year that its lineup is king among all festivals, and 2014 is no exception. Organizers snagged the first confirmed OutKast reunion appearance, the Replacements are playing only their fourth show since 1991 and the rest of the headliners are killer.
When: April 25-27
Where: Kingston Downs, GA
2013 Lineup Highlights: There was no 2013 festival, but 2012 was pretty great.
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Pretty Lights, Foster the People, J. Cole, Major Lazer, Krewella, Janelle Monae, and more!
Why You Should Go: This festival only kicked off in 2012, but it's already become a viable contender for one of America's best electronic festivals. Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Skrillex, Avicii and more performed and this year, Counterpoint has moved to the same venue that TomorrowWorld was held at in 2013.
When: May 2-4
Where: Memphis, TN
2013 Lineup Highlights: The Black Keys, Alice In Chains, Bassnectar, Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Flaming Lips, Phoenix, The Smashing Pumpkins, ZZ Top, The Black Crowes
2014 Lineup Highlights: Kid Rock, Alabama Shakes, Foster the People, Snoop Lion, Juicy J, Motorhead, Avenged Sevenfold and more!
Why You Should Go: Beale Street consistently brings forth one of the most eclectic festival lineups we see year to year. It's a huge advantage to be able to catch such a wide variety of acts in one weekend, so if you're looking for one festival to take in and you have scattered tastes, this might be the one for you.
When: May 23-25
Where: Gorge, WA
2013 Lineup Highlights: Mumford and Sons, The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, Sigur Rós, The xx, Arctic Monkeys, Grimes, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Lumineers, The Tallest Man on Earth, Tame Impala, Danny Brown
2014 Lineup Highlights: Outkast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, MIA, Foster The People, Kid Cudi, HAIM and more!
Why You Should Go: One of the savviest festivals around, Sasquatch! makes use of not just one, but two holiday weekends (update: the second weekend was canceled). Separated between Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, Sasquatch! promises to deliver two completely different lineups this year. That's quite an undertaking – but we wouldn't expect anything less from a festival that sold out in a record 90 minutes last year.
When: May 24-25 (NYC), June 20-22 (Las Vegas)
Where: New York City and the big party in Las Vegas
2013 Lineup Highlights: Tiesto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Armin Van Buuren, Major Lazer, Afrojack, Boy's Noize, A-Trak.
2014 Lineup: Check it out here!
Why You Should Go: The New York City event is a two-day warm-up for the bigger attraction, which is the insane party in Las Vegas. There's nary an EDM festival that's more widely anticipated, and Electric Daisy does it right – having acts perform between sunset and sunrise as opposed to during the day. Make sure you stay hydrated – you'll get surprisingly tired considering the sun's not out – but besides that, it's a blast of a festival.
When: June 6-8
Where: New York, NY
2013 Lineup Highlights: Kanye West, Nas, Guns'N'Roses, Japandroids, Kendrick Lamar, Icona Pop, HAIM, the xx
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Jack White, The Strokes, Skrillex, Vampire Weekend, J. Cole, Phoeniz, Interpol, Discolure and more!
Why You Should Go: Gov Ball 2013 proved to be the meaning of "the show must go on," as the festival weathered a tropical storm and a flash flood warning on New York's Randall's Island. With an incredible lineup, it was a weekend where attendees had to look past their own mud-caked features and appreciate the music at hand. If you head to NYC for this summer's edition, you'll have to hope for better weather – but an equally awesome lineup is all but guaranteed.
We had a blast at Bonnaroo this year! Check out our recaps, photo galleries and video interviews from the festival.
When: June 12-15
Where: Manchester, TN
2013 Lineup Highlights: Paul McCartney, Jack Johnson, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bjork, Wilco, Pretty Lights, R. Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, Daniel Tosh, The National, The Lumineers, David Byrne & St. Vincent
2014 Lineup Highlights: Kanye, Lauryn Hill, Skrillex, Frank Ocean, The Avett Brothers, Jack White, Elton John, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Lionel Richie, The Flaming Lips, Kaskade, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Arctic Monkeys and more!
Why You Should Go: None of the top few American festivals are as "hardcore" as Bonnaroo for most people who go. It's one of the greatest camping experiences at any festival in the world and Bonnaroo organizers constantly deliver a fantastic lineup. Once you survive four days sleeping outside and watching awesome bands in the intense Tennessee heat, no one will doubt your festival experience.
We've made it through another sweltering summer of the Warped Tour, and we did it together. We talked to a lot of our favorite bands on the tour and more – check out all the coverage here.
When: June 14 - August 3
Where: Throughout North America
2013 Lineup Highlights: 3OH!3, Never Shout Never, We Came As Romans, Black Veil Brides, Bring Me the Horizon, Chiodos, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years
2014 Lineup Highlights: The Devil Wears Prada, Mayday Parade, Anberlin, Enter Shikari and more so far – keep up with the constantly updating lineup!
Why You Should Go: Warped Tour is the only festival on this list that's actually a full North American tour. It stops in more than 40 cities throughout the course of eight grueling summer weeks, setting up and tearing down a mini-city each day. The festival – celebrating its 20th year in 2014 – blends acts ranging from pop to metalcore to pop-punk to electronic and everything in between. If you're looking for one full, action-packed day of watching bands, Warped is a great place to go and probably not too far from you.
When: June 19-22
Where: Dover, DE
2013 Lineup Highlights: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, Foster The People, Yeah Yeah Yeah, The Avett Brothers, Calvin Harris, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar
2014 Lineup Highlights: Foo Fighters, OutKast, Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Pretty Lights, the Lumineers, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer and more!
Why You Should Go: Firefly can still be classified as a start-up of sorts, only launching in 2012. But the festival claims a unique home in the beautiful woodlands of Delaware and has come on strong with two powerful lineups. There's camping available as well, so you can make a lot out of this fest!
Lollapalooza 2014 is in the books–head to our Lolla hub page to catch up on the sets we saw, the artists we interviewed and check out our photo galleries spanning the entire weekend!
When: August 1-3
Where: Chicago, IL
2013 Lineup Highlights: The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, the Killers, the Postal Service, New Order, Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, the Killers
2014 Lineup Highlights: Eminem, OutKast, Kings of Leon, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Lorde, Nas, Childish Gambino, Arctic Monkeys and way more!
Why You Should Go: Lolla has a great reputation as one of the most organized festivals in the country, as we saw in 2012 when a gnarly storm shut things down for part of the weekend. Sets were rescheduled and the show impressively went on. Other pros about the Chicago fest: Krewella says you don't have to dress fancy and you can explore the city by day.
When: September 12-14
Where: Chicago, IL
2013 Lineup Highlights: The Replacements, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Brand New, Pixies, Violent Femmes, Rancid, Blondie, Danzig
2014 Lineup Highlights: Weezer, The Flaming Lips, Slayer, The Cure, Social Distortion, The National, Rise Against, The Offspring, Taking Back Sunday, Wu-Tang Clan, Descendents, many more.
Why You Should Go: Do you see that list of 2013 highlights? Riot Fest provides the ultimate cross between mainstream and independent acts, current punk rock megastars and legendary bands from the past. This was on full display last year, when Humboldt Park hosted two mega-awesome modern headliners in Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, then an epic reunion set by The Replacements to close the weekend. If the relatively new Riot Fest can match its 2013 lineup, it'll soon be mentioned in the same breath as America's heaviest-hitting festivals.
When: September 26-28
Where: Chattahoochee Hills, GA
2013 Lineup Highlights: Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Swedish House Mafia members Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell, Afroki
2014 Lineup Highlights: Avicii, David Guetta, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Diplo, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, and a never-ending list of cohorts.
Why You Should Go: TomorrowWorld is the American expansion of global phenomenon Tomorrowland, which is widely considered one of the most popular festivals in the world. Last year was its first incarnation, and if they had to work out any kinks, they weren't all that noticeable. The festival's debut was a huge success and offers an experience unlike any other with its "Dreamville" camping area.
When: October 3-5 and 10-12
Where: Austin, TX
2013 Lineup Highlights: Depeche Mode, The Cure, Muse, Kings of Leon, Atoms For Peace, Lionel Richie, Phoenix, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, The National, Kings of the Stone Age
2014 Lineup Highlights: Lineup highlights: Eminem, Pearl Jam, Outkast, Skrillex, Beck, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, The Replacements, Zedd, Major Lazer, more.
Why You Should Go: ACL Fest isn't mentioned in the same revered breaths as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and SXSW, but that's what makes this festival such a special one to attend. Make no mistake, it's still a huge deal and has sold out for the last decade! But falling in October means that the summer festival rush has ended and this serves as a positive: You get a more relaxed crowd, milder temperatures in Austin and less general chaos. Plus, it's two weekends long now, so the party is twice as good.
When: October 21-25
Where: New York, NY
2013 Lineup Highlights: This festival isn't a headliner-heavy one – but you can check out who played on their website.
Why You Should Go: If you want to find some of the best new, raw talent in the country, CMJ is for you. It's called a "music marathon" for a good reason – lasting an entire week, you have the opportunity to see a ton of music and attend music industry-related conferences.
When: TBA, but probably October 30 - November 2
Where: Gainesville, FL
2014 Lineup Highlights: Descendents, Lifetime, Hot Water Music, Less Than Jake, Mineral, Strike Anywhere, The Menzingers, Chuck Ragan, Banner Pilot, the Hotelier, Into It. Over It., many more!
2013 Lineup Highlights: Bouncing Souls, The Draft, Braid, BoySetsFire, The Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four, Knapsack and like 400 more.
Why You Should Go: If you like punk rock, The Fest is probably one of your favorite weekends of the year. It's a mecca of sorts for punk fans, drawing attendees from countries all over the world. Held in downtown Gainesville, it's a lot like SXSW in that you'll be hopping between multiple venues every day, but the similarities end there – it's retained a DIY feel throughout each of its 12 years.
The 2013 incarnation saw an expansion to four days, a Pre-Fest in Tampa and more bands playing than ever before, leaving much anticipation for Fest 14 this fall. Held on the same weekend as the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville, the University of Florida's college town is left entirely to the 5,000 punks who descend upon it, and the atmosphere is something you have to witness.
When: October 31 - November 2
Where: New Orleans
2014 Lineup Highlights: Foo Fighters, Outkast, 30 Seconds to Mars, Skrillex, Zedd, Pretty Lights, Arctic Monkeys, Slayer, AWOLNATION and more!
2013 Lineup Highlights: Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, the Cure, Paramore, Boys Noize, Kid Rock, ZZ Ward, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Calvin Harris
Why You Should Go: Everyone talks about summer festivals – but November's Voodoo Music Experience, in the lively city of New Orleans, challenges the power summer fests with an attitude of its own. Whether you're looking for a top-tier festival to beat the heat or wanting to cap off an awesome summer of music with one more weekend of watching huge-name acts, Voodoo is a great choice.
Fun Fun Fun Fest has wrapped up, but we've got some photos from the Austin festival–check out the best live shots right here!
When: November 7-9
Where: Austin, TX
2014 Lineup Highlights: Judas Priest, Nas, Girl Talk, Wiz Khalifa, Modest Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel, alt-J, 2 Chainz, The Blood Brothers, more.
2013 Lineup Highlights: M.I.A., Slayer, MGMT, Jurassic 5, Snoop Dogg, Descendents, Ice-T, Television, FLAG, The Dismemberment Plan, Death Grips
Why You Should Go: Austin just keeps on giving. Fun Fun Fun Fest prides itself for highlighting independent and progressive music, and while it doesn't get the same mainstream love as SXSW or the Austin City Limits Festival, it's still an impressive lineup. All music fans need to make a trip to Austin eventually, and FFF Fest provides an excellent opportunity to do so.
Rock The Bells didn't happen in 2014, but you can keep up with the festival on Twitter for more information if they decide to renew the event next year.
2013 Lineup Highlights: A$AP Mob, Action Bronson, Wu-Tang Clan, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy E holograms, Danny Brown, J. Cole, Riff Raff, Pretty Lights
Why You Should Go: Well, if it happens, Rock The Bells is the premier hip-hop festival to attend. Organizers have said that RTB will return in 2014, but no one would be surprised if it didn't after a much-maligned 2013 experience. Two of the four stops were canceled due to poor ticket sales, there were terrible technical difficulties, and it seemed as though people were just left with a bad taste in their mouth afterwards. Still, Rock The Bells had an instant-classic lineup on board last year, and if they can pull it together, it may be the hottest festival in 2014.
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