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The Perfect Fit: Which Summer Music Festival Is For You?

on May 17, 2013, 4:00pm
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summer music fest v2

It happens every summer: Lineup after lineup entices you to join their party, visit some distant city or town, and brave the heat and crowds in the name of music. Whether it’s trekking outside of Seattle, navigating traffic in Tennessee, squeezing onto the BART in San Francisco, or copping rides in Los Angeles — you’ll do whatever’s necessary to make that experience a reality.

Don’t you want to make it count, though?

Sometimes a festival isn’t for everyone. Maybe you’re not into mud. There’s a chance that agoraphobia of yours might act up at The Gorge. Who knows if you can handle the inner city pressure. That’s why we pared down the facts and assembled a diverse list of this summer’s biggest festivals so that you could find: The Perfect Fit.

So, read ahead, take some notes, and choose wisely.

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Sasquatch! Music Festival – George, WA

Sasquatch 2013

Located at the scenic Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA, Sasquatch! has hosted diverse, acclaimed lineups since 2002. The performing artists and Pacific Northwest charm entice not just an army of loyal locals but attendees from all over the world for four days of music. With a capacity under 30,000, Sasquatch! is an intimate affair compared to other destination festivals, and the 2013 edition sold out in record time.

When: May 24-27th

Lineup: Headliners Sigur Rós, Mumford & Sons, and The Postal Service and rising stars such as Chvrches and Disclosure, plus the comedic stylings of Nick Offerman and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Wait, that last one isn’t a comedy act?

The Things You’ll See: Remember the dance party that erupted during Santigold’s 2009 set? Enthusiastic attendees are forever hopeful that they will be the ones to inspire a sequel to the viral sensation.

When the Music’s Over: Dubstep all night in the campgrounds.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Want to be the infamous couple that had sex on top The Gorge, stealing the thunder of the band performing on-stage? It’s already been done.

What a View: When it comes to main stage backdrops, the natural beauty of The Gorge cannot be beat.

I Ate What? Chili dogs, chicken nuggets, and mystery bowls.

National Pride: The proximity to Canada inspires a sense of patriotism in attendees from both sides of the border, so expect occasional, random chants of alleged national superiority between songs.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? Everything is uphill on rock-laden dirt paths. Both ways. Sturdy shoes or boots are a must.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: You’re on a gorge in the middle of nowhere, so good luck not camping. Luckily, everything goes on these grounds. Don’t fancy roughing it? Rent an RV and have a good night’s sleep in a bed every night, followed by a hearty, homemade breakfast in the morning. If a camper exceeds your budget, U-Haul vans and converted school buses are surprisingly popular.

Pot Decriminalization: Sorry, bro. You still can’t smoke in public.

The Perfect Fit: Still don’t know who the hell The Stone Roses are? Odds are you’ll be pumped for Macklemore and Mumford. If not, there’s something for everyone in Sasquatch’s today-centric lineup. The region might be currently associated with bearded, folksy rock, but the demographics skew young and excitable, with many attendees looking to go completely nuts on their first festival adventure. -Frank Mojica

Governors Ball Music Festival – New York City, NY

governors ball 2013

The third annual installment of Governors Ball takes place in the beautiful Randall’s Island Park, and features the best in indie, hip-hop, electronic music, rock, pop, and more. The festival continues to build upon the incredible success of the past two years, incorporating additional performance areas to the festival grounds, expanding the scope and strength of the line up, and adding to and improving existing attractions and activities including art installations, games, gourmet food trucks, craft beer, wine vendors, and much more. Who else can say that they went to a festival on an island?

When: June 7-9th

Lineup: Kanye West, Kings of Leon, Guns N’ Roses, Nas, Grizzly Bear, Kendrick Lamar, Beach House, Animal Collective, Erykah Badu & the Cannabinoids, Local Natives

The Things You’ll See: First and foremost, Governors Ball attendees will witness the latest incarnation of Kanye West, one that may reveal a slew of new material, maybe. If you’re not into celtic skirts and self-aggrandizing choruses, you will surely find a number of other awesome attractions around the island. The festival focuses on the simple fun of summer, implementing relaxing activities with the potential for fierce competition, like ping pong and lawn games, and hands-on nutrition lessons with The Urban Farm. Past festival-goers also rave about the abundance of original artwork surrounding the grounds, which vary from interactive playgrounds to glowing balloons floating over the crowd.

When the Music’s Over: Just when you thought the weekend couldn’t get any bigger, it does. Even though the festival doesn’t exactly take place in New York City itself, the gates of the city’s most popular venues will open for some awesome after parties. Each night can satisfy a number of different musical cravings, whether you’re wanting to rock out with Dinosaur Jr. or Japandroids or dance yourself clean with Paper Diamond.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock n’ Roll? As the typical festival goer flips open the festival schedule, they may go into an overwhelming daze of shock. As they look down at their torn and wrinkled schedule from the stress shaking through their fingers, they scream, “Local Natives vs. Crystal Castles?! Kendrick Lamar vs. Cut Copy?!?! BEACH HOUSE VS. ERYKAH BADU?!?! Some drugs may be necessary in order to calm one’s nerves and decipher between these conflicts. To some, this comfort can evoked from simply “holding the Pikachu”, but still… BEACH HOUSE VS. ERYKAH BADU?!?! On a brighter note, Guns N’ Roses will surely bring along some classic rock ‘n’ roll and perhaps some reggae.

I Ate What? Personally, nothing satisfies better than a sugary and refreshing treat after a long day at a festival. Governors Ball certainly doesn’t come up short, highlighting nostalgic treats like fresh fruit sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works and gourmet snowcones from Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls. Feeling daring? Challenge your sweet tooth to bite into a Candied Bacon or Brown Butter ice cream sandwich from Cool Haus. If you can handle state fair artery-cloggers like deep-fried Snickers, this may be a “must stop” to mark on your festival maps.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? Boat shoes. The most unique method of transportation fashioned amongst the festival repertoire involves jumping on the Manhattan Ferry. Though it could be easier for fans to take public transportation or simply walk, festival organizers claim the ride to be “without a doubt, the easiest way to get to/from the show.” If you’re a fan who loves taking in a holistic experience, be sure to whistle for a water taxi. Just be sure not to fall in.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: Even though NYC is loaded with fancy hotels, the website advocates for posting up in a native’s extra bedroom. Airbnb makes any New Yorker’s dream to own a bed-and-breakfast come true as they open their extra housing spaces up for rental. The rooms vary from quaint and comfortable studios to over-zealous pads dressed with lofted swings and trapezes, just in case you want to host fancy party after the fest. Festival goers can rent out rooms for as low as $45/night, which can help save a handful of dough that can be spent on festival shenanigans. Take a risk and give it a shot.

The Perfect Fit: It’s the perfect getaway for the 9-5 businessman who secretly belts emotion-loaded choruses into a fruit or vegetable resembling a microphone. Leave all of the paperwork at the office, grab some sunscreen and friends, then sprawl out amongst the island’s beautiful greenery. As the sun sets, the inner super fan can shed its skin, revealing provocative dance jigs and joyful singing that was once contained in an imaginary 10×12 dancefloor. Don’t sing too loud though, unless you want to lose your voice for the next two weeks (i.e. Sam at Radiohead’s set during Bonnaroo 2012). Governors Ball so hard, that shit cray. -Sam Willett

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival – Manchester, TN

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Bonnaroo takes over a relatively untrodden section of the Tennessee countryside every May, filling the Manchester-area campground with thousands of sweaty, un-showered pilgrims. The annual four-day festival is produced this year by Superfly and AC Entertainment and runs right around $250 for a four-day general admission pass. With the vast majority of its attendees camped out just outside of the concert grounds, Bonnaroo stakes its claim on the festival season by featuring one of the more eclectic lineups.

When: June 13-16th

Lineup: Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Animal Collective, R. Kelly, Björk, Bob Saget, Wu-Tang Clan

The Things You’ll See: Acid-riddled faux-hippies in Urban Outfitters tie-dye deciding between Kendrick Lamar and Holy Ghost; Sunburned hipster/bros double-fisting beers and head banging to Jim James while waiting for a Port-a-Potty

When the Music’s Over: You will be drunk/high, unable to find your car/tent, muttering things like, “Man, I knew Paul McCartney rocked but I didn’t know he, like, rock rocked,” to some girl with a glow-stick hula-hoop.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Everything except sex, unless you’re attracted to the idea of getting freaky with someone who hasn’t showered in 60 hours in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity, your skin sticking to your partner’s like some kind of Frankenstein-ian velcro, your odds of a urinary tract infection exponentially rising.

Unexpected Allies: Last year, out on the fringes of the festival, a group of Christians had set up their own ad hoc tent, not to rant against the wickedness of Bonnaroo’s ways, but instead to provide coffee, orange juice, Wi-Fi, muffins, and kindness. Thumbs up, guys!

I Ate What? You’re probably going to be eating whatever you brought, so pack accordingly. There are food vendors around Bonnaroo, and they’re worth investigating, but such vendors are not the focus. If you are going to trade sweet sweet legal tender for foodstuffs, lean in the direction of drinks or desserts, both of which you won’t be able to keep in the increasingly disgusting cooler sandwiched haphazardly into your trunk.

DIY: But there are a ton of vendors around Bonnaroo. If they’re not for food, then what? Hand-crafted stuff. Clothes, bongs, rings, bongs, hats, bongs, hula-hoops, bongs, 100% recycled underwear, and did I mention bongs?

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? ALL OF THE ABOVE. Weather in Tennessee in June is a fickle mistress, and you need to be just as prepared taking mushrooms and running barefoot through a string of drum circles as slogging in boots through overflowing Port-a-Potty waste to get to Tom Petty on time.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: Camp. You can get around it, but the spirit of Bonnaroo is not so much on the stages but on the campgrounds, with tent villages assembled for a weird, but necessary commune-like experience. If you’re not camping at Bonnaroo, you may be more comfortable, but you’re probably an asshole.

How Many Gallons of Water? At least as many as it takes to fill up your car with gas. Water is currency on the Bonnaroo grounds; you use it not only for drinking but also for washing, for brushing your teeth, and for cooling yourself. By Sunday afternoon, you could probably trade a gallon of water straight-up for someone’s Rolex and/or stash.

The Perfect Fit: A handyman of the outdoors, a MacGyver of drug paraphernalia, a purveyor of late-night college radio when they play the weird stuff, someone who unironically enjoys irony, who makes friends quickly, knows how to share, and is used to carrying large amounts of cash. -Chris Bosman

Electric Forest Festival – Rothbury, MI


electricforest2013 The Perfect Fit: Which Summer Music Festival Is For You?

Brought to life by Madison House Presents and Insomniac Events, Electric Forest is a new breed of U.S. music and camping festival. Taking place on the rustic Double JJ Ranch, revelers are not only welcomed by over 60 bands spanning electronic and jam music, but also regular trips to a nearby-water park [for a nominal fee], glow in the dark disc golf, and the mind-altering Sherwood Forest. Now in its third year, the production teams have expanded the artistry of the forest to fortify the festival’s wonderment. Continuing their curated-events series, Fool’s Gold and Detroit’s Movement will commandeer stages for the 2013-edition.

When: June 27-30th

Lineup: Pretty Lights, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, Dispatch, The String Cheese Incident, Knife Party, Lotus, Yeasayer

The Things You’ll See: As Electric Forest is fond of promoting: “Sherwood Forest has no Wi-FI access, but we are sure you will find a connection”. Located at the heart of the festival grounds, the expertly lit realm is a multi-sensory trek between the festival’s main stages. Pop-up shows, fire spinning, gong mediation, hammock love-making, and LED wars are just a few of the experiences that await attendees in the dense forest. Just be comfortable with the human body, because you will definitely be seeing nudity…. some possibly being chased by horses.

When the Music’s Over: You find more music! Although the gates do close around 4 a.m., many a young band have been known to perform impromptu sets just outside the festival’s entry gates. As dawn approaches, the rumblings of drum circles are an all too common sound/annoyance as other weary revelers are ready to sleep away the prior night’s debauchery.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Let’s just say, Electric Forest is full of popular ladies.

Tent Sex: Always seems like a good idea; however, be ready to experience you and your partner’s bodies in an uncharted fashion.

I Ate What? Pulling an array of constant travelers from across the US, munchies are easily combated both inside the festival gates and in the campsite. Before ingesting anything too heavy like greasy pizza or BBQ sandwiches, be sure to wake up early and head to the campsite’s organic market. Without spending too much cash, it’s easy to replenish with ripe fruit, organic pastries, and fresh squeezed juices. Once in the festival area, be sure to stop by the taco food truck that lines the rear of the main stage.

Pastry Disclaimer: Might be a wise idea to question campsite vendors about the ingredients in their baked goods. Sometimes “I ate what?” could be a question for concern.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? Boots. Might be nice to prance around in the forest like a barefooted, enchanted fairy, but save yourself the broken toes and lacerated feet!

To Camp, or Not to Camp: Truly no reason not to camp – make new friends, no worries about getting to a hotel safely, and you can take much needed tent breaks throughout the day. Looking for something with more frills? Electric Forest’s “Good Life” option offers those with a slightly larger bank account condo-style accommodations with special dining and viewing arrangements. All of the fun, but without the dirty fingernails and muddy unmentionables.

Hit the Waterpark: Cool down and clean up at The Gold Rush Water Park. No reason to wait in line for a shower when for only $10 (Thursday June 27th) or $20 (Friday-Sunday), you can head down to this 60,000 square foot and relax in a hot shower of the lazy river.

The Perfect Fit: You rage and aren’t afraid to admit it — this is the place for twenty-something hedonism. Like the festival itself — that popped-up in the wake of Rothbury – you have a history with jam band music but now prefer the more electronic things in life. Predominantly white, suburban undergraduates, with a collection of unkempt nomads, Electric Forest is that place to reconnect with your classmates and make memories that will be retold with countless pictures and GoPro videos.

Eighty percent will arrive with a spirit hat, dayglow attire, and/or rave cape, while 65% will leave without any shoes. You haven’t purchased a single from iTunes in 10 years, but know where to find every set from festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, Burning Man, HARD, and Snowball. And while we prefer not to spend $30 on a haircut, we make a special budget for festival season and needed party favors and accessories. -Derek Staples

Newport Folk Festival – Newport, RI

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Founded in 1959 by George Wein, the Newport Folk Festival is one of the most storied and venerated festivals in the U.S. Some 10,000 daily attendees head to historical Fort Adams State Park on Newport Harbor to watch folk legends and modern favorites. Steeped in history, recent years have seen the festival’s bill increasingly geared towards contemporary performers.

When: July 26-28th

Lineup: Beck, Feist, The Avett Brothers, Jim James, The Mountain Goats, Colin Meloy, Andrew Bird, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Dawn McCarthy.

The Things You’ll See: On stage, you’ll witness everyone collaborate with everyone else, as guest spots are an enshrined part of Newport’s culture. In the water, you’ll see dozens of boats and yachts parked in the harbor throwing their own parties as they listen to the main stage performers. Free-loaders, with their yachts…

When the Music’s Over: Good luck getting into the official after parties, this year hosted by Dawes (and friends) at the Jane Pickens Theater. If you don’t “know a guy” or can’t scalp a ticket, pop into any of the music clubs, restaurants, or bars along Thames St. or American Cup Ave.; they’re always packed with good folk and more music, and you never know who might walk up to the mic.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Rock ‘n’ roll, all the way. Look, it’s folk music, so sure there are people wandering off towards the water or dipping into port-o-potties to light up, but the real draw at Newport will always be the music.

Folk Goes Electric: When you hear people mention the time “Dylan plugged in”, they’re talking about Newport. On July 25th, 1965, Bob Dylan prompted controversy and altered the course of music when he plugged in with an electric band on the Newport stage. This place has that kind of history.

I Ate What? The best dang grilled flatbread pizza ever, fresh oysters and clams, and a refreshingly old-fashioned root beer float. And on the third night you’ll finally cave and get the same damn “Thai” platter you eat at every festival.

All Hail the Prince: Deer Tick’s John McCauley has risen as the unofficial Prince of Newport in recent years. He’s appeared with his own band, with Middle Brother (alongside Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith and Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez), and this year takes the stage solo. His aftershow performances are the stuff of legend, and you can expect memorable surprises at this year’s festival.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots: Sandals. The Fort isn’t too large, and it’s easy to get around, but some rock paths are best handled with covered feet.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: If you want to camp, you’ll be doing it outside of Newport at a non-affiliated campground. The B&B’s in town are your best bet if you can afford them (book early!), or there are cheaper hotels outside of town. Otherwise, find a buddy with a big enough boat and anchor it in the harbor.

Trusted Advisors: With the Newport festivals (Jazz Festival being the other) returning to non-profit status in 2011, the board has established an esteemed Board of Advisors to keep the Folk Fest at its peak: Jim James, Gillian Welch, Colin Meloy, The Low Anthem’s Ben Knox Miller, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.

The Perfect Fit: Even as the performers and crowd have skewed younger, Newport Folk Fest remains an “old school” festival. That means there’s no pits, no high-tech light shows, and no place for EDM, metal, hip-hop, or the ilk. Still, the mix of tradition and modernity has lead to a diverse crowd. The music brings in the hippies and the indie sect, while the setting attracts the preppies and the Baby Boomers/Gen Xers. In general, the culture breeds a respect for that diversity – only youths should prepare to be yelled at by their elders to “sit down!” All in all, though, there’s a reason why the Folk Fest’s unofficial catchphrase is “one of the folk”, it’s like a Tod Browning flick without the circus sideshows or inheritance scams. -Ben Kaye

Capitol Hill Block Party – Seattle, WA

capitolhillblockparty The Perfect Fit: Which Summer Music Festival Is For You?

Capitol Hill Block Party, named after and taking place in the requisitely hip Seattle neighborhood of the same name, has grown from some bands playing on the back of a truck to the local residents to a bona fide summer festival. It still retains the feel of an ol’ fashioned block party down on Pike St. between 9th and 11th with two outdoor stages and, you know, taking place on a block in the summer, but the fest also takes advantage of two clubs — Nuemos and Cha Cha’s — to keep bands going at the same time. You know how some bands just sound better in a dark, sweaty club, and not on a giant festival stage? CHBP is well aware of that and the indoor/outdoor rotation is one of the best parts about the fest, especially if you’re there for the music above all.

When: July 26-28th

Lineup: The Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, Chromatics, Danny Brown, Frightened Rabbit, Starslinger, El-P & Killer Mike

The Things You’ll See: A lot of bros in boat shoes (which I think is part of the Seattle aesthetic), people going in and out of Zion’s Gates Records with new finds, 7 kids taking acid for the 7th time to watch The Flaming Lips for the 7th time, a mosh pit break out in the basement of Cha Chas if/when White Lung plays there, people eating a Seattle Hot dog.

When the Music’s Over: Get a Seattle Hot dog at The Hot Dog Stand by The Comet— it’s barbecue sauce, cream cheese, grilled onions, sriracha and no regrets.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Honestly, that hot dog is a combination of all three.

Best Band that played Cha Cha in a shower of beer and sludge metal in 2011: Akimbo

I Ate What? Plenty of great food stands from local eateries are set up on the block Big Mario’s Pizza and The Hot Dog Stand by The Comet (I can still taste it — it’s been two years)

The crowd at Big Freedia this year… will be filled with Seattleites unsure how to dance to bounce music, so get schooled ahead of time.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots: Dancing shoes, but careful because sometimes a little bit of cream cheese will spill out of the end of your hot dog that you can get at The Hot Dog Stand by The Comet and you don’t want that on new shoes!

To Camp, or Not to Camp:  Big Freedia is the only camp you’ll see around here — find a hotel or Air BnB it if you’re coming from out of town.

In 2011, did Tim Harrington from Les Savvy Fav leave the stage and go into an apartment building overlooking Pike St. and hang out over the balcony and then steal a fern from the lobby of the apartment building and bring it back on stage only to break it? Yes.

The Perfect Fit: While it’s still the little cousin of downtown Seattle fest Bumbershoot, this feels more like a party than it does a fest. It’s not overcrowded, the people are very chill and a little drunk and having fun and not wilding out on molly, catatonic in a field somewhere. The party ends at 11:00 p.m. or so and the crowd disperses to bars around the area or back to their houses. Or to get a hot dog from The Hot Dog Stand by The Comet. -Jeremy D. Larson

Hard Summer Music Festival – Los Angeles, CA

hard summer festival 2013

Save for Electric Daisy Carnival, Hard Summer is the premiere electronic dance music festival during the summer months. While it’s not exactly the most scenic place, Los Angeles’ State Historic Park provides just enough space for the throngs of eager dancers to split up across multiple stages during the two days of activities. There’s no legend or historic precedent for Hard, it’s simply a place to lose yourself to EDM. Fair warning: if you’re doing it right, there’s no festival more exhausting.

When: August 3rd-4th

Lineup: Knife Party, Justice, Dog Blood, Duck Sauce, 2 Chainz, Disclosure, Flying Lotus, Empire of the Sun, and Crystal Castles

The Things You’ll See: So many lights. Flashing lights, strobing lights, pulsing lights, neon lights. Also glow sticks. The stages of Hard are comprised mostly as massive alters where tens of thousands of unrelenting teens and twenty somethings pray to their EDM gods: some 5’7” white male with a bad hair cut. Maybe it’s too easy to poke holes in an electronic music festival’s setup, but honest to goodness Hard provides an energetic atmosphere unmatched by similar efforts, making the obvious sights and sounds an easy afterthought.

When the Music’s Over: It might be a long walk, but it’s an easy transition to get some solid beach time in before the sun rises. I mean, you’re already in a tank top or bikini, so why not clean off some of the caked on sweat with a stroll down Venice beach in a drunken, drugged out haze. Actually, I think that’s precisely what the new Daft Punk album was made for.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and sex. In that order. More than any other kind of festival, Hard is very much fueled by the physical touch of another concert goer. You won’t find the joint smoking loner you might encounter at the back of a crowd at Coachella, instead everybody will want to rub against your bangles and grab your hips.

I Ate What? Wait a minute, you put what in my water? How long does that take to kick in? But I’ve only ever taken Adderall to study and clean my dorm. I recommend only eating foot long corndogs and taking only the rave drugs you brought yourself.

But What About Rap? As a prospective Hard attendee, you might be asking yourself: Should I care about rap? No, 2 Chainz and Azealia can be enjoyed thoroughly without a lick of knowledge about either artist, and that’s possibly their best trait. Completely lovable, simply indescribable characters that will provide a great mix of talent during the draining two days at LA Historic Park. No homework necessary.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? The furriest, tallest boots you can find. Can your legs fit inside a cat’s scratching post? Perfect.

Harlem Shake: Remember a more innocent time? A time when internet videos and flash mobs meant nothing to the cultural elite or under age flower children. Oh, those were the days. Even though Baauer’s now-infamous song has taken on a whole new misappropriation thanks to a tired, four-month-old meme that surely won’t stop this rising producer from inducing the most insideous eye roll-worthy moment of the entire weekend. Want to be a part of the largest harlem shake video captured by 50,000 shaky Vine clips? Then this is absolutely the festival for you.

Two Hands? Do you have two hands? Can you raise them in the air when Break Bot cues his drop. Can you point to the sky and scream at the top of your lungs along to every single word of “D.A.N.C.E.” and “We Are Your Friends”? Chromeo are missing from this year’s bill, so fancy footwork need not apply. Just hands.

The Perfect Fit: This year’s Hard Summer functions as both a bridge to the past and a nod to the future. If you’re passionate about dance music in any way, shape, or form — from house (Disclosure) to progressive (Flying Lotus) to the mindless (Duck Sauce) — you’ll find peace at Hard. It’s probably too easy to be cynical about a festival attended by mostly well to do white folks in their formative years, but Hard provides a sanctum for those who like to just have a loud, fun time. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. -Erik Burg

Lollapalooza Music Festival – Chicago, IL

lolla2013 The Perfect Fit: Which Summer Music Festival Is For You?

Founded in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, Lollapalooza toured North America annually until 1997 with a short revival in 2003. In 2004, organizers tried to expand to two days per city, however poor ticket sales forced a cancellation. In 2005, Farrell and the William Morris Agency partnered up with Austin, TX-based company Capital Sports Entertainment (now C3 Presents) and retooled the brand into its current format as a weekend destination festival at Chicago’s Grant Park.

When: August 2nd-4th

Lineup: The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone, Mumford and Sons, The Killers, The Postal Service, and Vampire Weekend

The Things You’ll See: The iconic Chicago skyline light up your night as you’re surrounded by its majestic glory. That, and a few booze zombies attempting to bathe in the Buckingham Fountain.

When the Music’s Over: It’s time to hit the city. With nearly every venue participating, after shows are aplenty and experiences come unique. Last year, Frank Ocean performed at the 1,000 capacity Metro Cabaret, while past headliners like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, or Foo Fighters have all played intimate locales to much fanfare. You’ve gotta keep aware, though.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Sex by a long shot. Between the snazzy hotels that line Michigan Ave., the sweaty confines of Perry’s Tent, and the steamy Chitown heat, there’s nothing more erotic than baking with guys and girls from all across the world throughout the day only to cool off somewhere cozy before midnight. ::cue Foreigner::

“Play ‘Kids’!”: What other festival has an entire stage and section devoted to toddlers and tykes? It may sound frivolous and possibly even stupid, but Kidzapalooza has spawned such memories as Perry and Slash covering Jane’s and GNR, an afternoon jamboree led by Jeff Tweedy, midday baby jams featuring Jim James, and countless seemingly annual sets by The Verve Pipe.

I Ate What? Behold the lobster dog. Don’t ask, just eat — that is, if you’re not allergic to shellfish.

The Class System: Know what it’s like to live in Roman times as you slog through the rain and fertilizer smells as millionaires and the city’s elite watch from above in their cabanas. It’s a real humbling experience, but one that makes you feel like Maximus. Beat that chest of yours and bid them farewell, soldier.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots: Shoes. If you get muddy, you’re gonna be going home anyhow. Boots will be a pain in the ass as you walk the mile and a half between stages and sandals or feet will probably result in foot fungi — something afoul stirs in the south fields — so grab some Chucks or Nikes and call it a day.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: No camping, unless you’re creative and you manage to hide underneath a stage or something. Grant Park closes promptly after each night’s festivities come to an end at 10 p.m., so you’d better book a hotel or visit Airbnb or get snuggly with a Cubbly.

Da Bulls, Da Bears, Da ‘Za: If you’re in Chicago and you’re looking for proper deep dish pizza, evade all the traps downtown. Instead, head to the neighborhoods. Roscoe Village’s Riverview Tavern, which recently absorbed Robey Pizza, is a must-try, while Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park is probably the best slice of cheesy death you’ll find in the Midwest. Lou Malnati’s or Gino’s East ain’t bad, either, but you can have a better heart attack elsewhere.

The Perfect Fit: Only the most athletic can successfully survive a weekend at Lollapalooza. No lie: Those trips between the north and south stages take a toll on the mind, body, and soul. By Sunday, you’ve sacrificed a larger part of your existence, and if you’re not young, fit, and rambunctious — you might be dead on arrival, or at least 120 minutes later. Those who prefer not to camp should find solace in the Second City, where hotels are closer in proximity than the next stage and the food’s miles ahead of the Taste of Chicago. In other words, athletic hypochondriacs-turned-foodies are wanted. -Michael Roffman

Outside Lands Music Festival – San Francisco, CA

outside lands 2013

San Francisco is well-known for many things: pastel-tinted houses on a hill, trolley rides through the Haight, a thrashing psychedelic music scene. Set in the majestic Golden Gate Park, Outside Lands has become a rising force drawing record crowds to the city. The festival boasts astoundingly varied lineup, with fog-drenched woods as an ethereal backdrop to the libations and live music.

When: August 9-11th

Lineup: Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Nine Inch Nails, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jurassic 5, The National

The Things You’ll See: A red-draped wine-tasting tent. A gentle and misty fog that coats the park, which makes for a strangely magical ambiance. A twinkle-lighted section of the forest dedicated to sweet delicacies, “Choco Lands.” The very distinct possibility of catching a secret set, maybe from Jack White, tucked away somewhere in the woods. Outside Lands is about discovery.

When the Music’s Over: Don’t turn out the lights. Festivalgoers often flock to dive bars in the Mission, or hip spots in the Haight, immediately after Golden Gate Park locks its gates.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll? Not mutually exclusive. At any given moment you can catch the whiff of weed, edible handouts, and strangers readily sharing tokes with each other. The rock ‘n’ roll is rollicking, and if you glance high above into the trees, you might be able to see two lovers who climbed the trunk, now locked in a kiss.

Outsider Information #1: Most Likely To Skip The Dive Bar For A Craft Beer Joint

I Ate What? From Malaysian chicken to artichoke and ricotta sandwiches, you’re all about the exotic twists on a classic. Why not add friend plantain to that black bean burrito? Korean barbecue tacos? Done. But you know when to appreciate a classic, like a piping hot slice of Spicy Pie pizza.

Outsider Information #2: Most Likely To Drop Everything and Resign To A Life On The Road

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots? All-purpose boots. The outer Sunset location of Golden Gate Park becomes quite chilly after the sun goes down.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: Regretfully, camping isn’t an option at Outside Lands. It gets might chilly at night, but if you’re not adverse to sleeping underneath a canopy of trees, you could easily stay in the massive park overnight. Otherwise, post up in a hotel downtown with your friends, and let the hotel parties commence.

Outsider Information #3: Most Likely To Have Cedar-Scented Potpurri

The Perfect Fit: Outside Lands is the ideal festival for the adventurous sort, those not adverse to crowds of tripping SF art students or steep drops in the thick necks of unmarked woods. Your feet will get dusty. Your wallet will weep from the financial drain of seasonal Sierra Nevadas. Your arms will grow goosebumps, both from the cold and the caliber of the music that drew you in to the festival in the first place. If something about being surrounded by trees makes you feel mystical and free, Outside Lands is the place of wonders where you belong. -Paula Mejia

FYF Festival – Los Angeles, CA

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Remember a decade back when the Vans Warped Tour attempted to champion aggressive rock ‘n’ roll in an accessible way? FYF Festival (which stands for “Fuck Yeah Fest”) advances this concept by modernizing those ideals to include not only punk and hardcore but indie, hip-hop, and electronic music. It’s one of Los Angeles’ last real gasps of the summer, but man, it’s a great gasp.

When: August 24-25th

Lineup: My Bloody Valentine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, FLAG, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio

The Things You’ll See: Lots of great old school punk rock t-shirts (loved that Descendents/Breaking Bad combo last year) and a handful of comedians lounging around with mixed drinks.

When the Music’s Over: Los Angeles has options up the wazoo for a tired festivalgoer. When you finish, the options range from bar-hopping downtown, to swimming in the Pacific, and even just driving around to take in some sites (midnight trip to the Hollywood sign, anyone?). The City of Angels has something for everyone, so take advantage of ANYTHING that tickles your fancy once you return to the real world.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll?: It is Los Angeles, so the obvious answer would be sex, but given the festival’s track record of brilliant lineups in years past, it’d be hard to dispute anything but rock ‘n’ roll.

I Ate What? You can always count on LA to give you a weird, westernized concoction that couldn’t exist anywhere else. Last year, a grilled cheese with bacon and tater tots was enough to sell me on forking over eight bucks and enjoying every bite.

Feet, Shoes, Sandals, or Boots: Boots and shoes are advised, but Lakais are preferred.

To Camp, or Not to Camp: Camping in Los Angeles can be a life-changing experience, mainly because campgrounds and true wilderness are non-existent. Your best bet is to pitch a tent as far from Skid Row as humanly possible. Don’t be fooled by the copious amounts of tents pitched in downtown LA. Those belong to non-FYF attendees, and your best bet is to pitch an area closer to the ocean. There you can relax, take in the salty breeze, and know that your worst enemy is the SoCal sun.

The Perfect Fit: If you saw Pretty Sweet last year and were as hyped on the amount of Suicidal Tendencies/Bad Brains songs, but also secretly enjoyed Lissie’s cover of “Pursuit of Happines”, then you clearly belong at FYF Festival. See you up front. -Ted Maider

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