Whether its cars, food or festivals, everything is said to be bigger and better in America. While we maintain that the humble UK is home to the best music festivals on the planet, the Land of Liberty is certainly holding her own across the pond. From the long-standing New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to New York’s newest Electric Zoo, there’s something for all persuasions of music junkie in the country where dreams are made. In this PAAM festival staff blog, we travel from coast to coast across the country to bring you our guide to the best music festivals in America.
Coachella Festival 2013
Indio (California), April 12-14/April 19-21 2013, $349.00
Regarded as the biggest music festival in the US, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has experienced such organic growth since its inception in 1999 that it now hogs two consecutive weekends in April. The see-and-be-seen-at festival boasts a booking philosophy that mixes up-and-comers with established acts and legendary reunions, with Iggy & the Stooges, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Pixies listed among the Coachella comeback kids of recent years. With an eclectic line-up encompassing hip-hop, rock, electro and all that sits in between, this year’s event is set to spoil those lucky enough to have tickets. The Stone Roses, Blur, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wu-Tang Clan, La Roux, Sigur Ros, New Order, Hot Chip, Knife Party, Two Door Cinema Club, Simian Mobile Disco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lou Reed, Jurassic 5, and Grimes are just a handful of the stunners on this year’s beautiful bill.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazzfest)
New Orleans (Louisiana), April 26-May 5 2013, from $177.00
With some of the richest music history in the whole world, it’s only right that New Orleans should play host to one of the America’s best music festivals. Rivalled only by the Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, also known as JazzFest, is an annual celebration of all things Louisiana. Taking place over two weekends, but with fabulous fringe events filling up the city in between, the festival showcases every style of music associated with the state, including blues, R&B, gospel, folk, Latin, rap, country, bluegrass, and of course, jazz. Held at Fair Grounds Race Course in historic Mid-City, this colourful no-camping day festival will also be offering fantastic food, crafts and cultural activities for all ages.
Sasquatch Festival 2013
George (Washington), May 24-27 2013, from $125.00
Boasting the unbeatable venue of The Gorge Amphitheatre, carved into the basalt cliffs overlooking the Columbia River in Quincy, the Sasquatch Festival draws thousands to the tiny town of George, whose population is only 500 or so the rest of the year. This undeniably cool American music festival is a haven for indie aficionados, having attracted Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver and Pretty Lights to last year’s sell-out spectacle. This year’s line-up also promises to be as breathtaking as the setting, with Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Lumineers, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Tame Impala and Dirty Projectors filling out the bill.
Bonnaroo Festival 2013
Manchester (Tennessee), June 13-16 2013, $269.50
Thanks to its pioneering environmentally-friendly ethos and charitable initiatives, Bonnaroo is the US music festival of choice for the green team and all those that like to feel warm and fuzzy while rocking out. Taking place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, Bonnaroo has been an unstoppable success since its 2002 debut, bringing more than 100,000 revellers together with dozens of artists from almost every contemporary musical genre imaginable. Often ranked among the top music festivals anywhere in the world, Bonnaroo also boasts a 100-acre entertainment village with a retro arcade, comedy club, silent disco and theatre. This year’s line-up is set to impress as always, with the legendary likes of Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Björk, The xx, Grizzly Bear, Of Monsters And Men, The Gaslight Anthem, Billy Idol and The Vaccines taking to the stage.
Lollapalooza Festival 2013
Chicago (Illinois), August 2-4 2013, $235.00
Starting out as a travelling festival in the 1990s, Lollapalooza has finally put its roots down at Grant Park in Chicago, bringing a line-up of indie, punk and electronica to Windy City rockers. Although perhaps lacking the underground credibility it achieved as a travelling troop, Perry Farrell’s brainchild is still breaking the rock festival mould with its cornucopia carnival vibe. A to-die-for line-up, comprising of New Order, The Killers, Mumford & Sons, Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age, was announced on April 1.
San Francisco (California), August 9-11 2013, ticket price TBA
If San Francisco isn’t already on your list of must-visit destinations in the US, the all-things-poppin-and-rockin Outside Lands Festival may just seal the deal for America’s most cosmopolitan metropolis. Despite only being launched in 2008, the three-day event at Golden Gate Park is already being mentioned among the Goliaths of American music festivals. Although the 2013 line-up is still to be announced, previous performers, such as Jack White, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Stevie Wonder, bode well for something spectacular.
Burning Man Festival 2013
Black Rock City (Nevada) August 26-September 2 2013, from $190.00
More of a colourful kibbutz than a music festival, Burning Man is one of the most interesting and infamous of all the US festivals. Rather than spending big money on massive acts and colossal stages, almost everything at Burning Man is created by the attendees, active participants who make their own entertainment. Once a year, tens of thousands of likeminded, self-sufficient sand fans descend on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to form Black Rock City, leaving a week later without any trace of their existence. This year looks set to be more creative than ever, with ‘art’ the theme for the Woodstock-reminiscent event.
New York City (New York), August 30-September 1 2013, from $329.00
Taking place at Randall’s Island Park in NYC, Electric Zoo is another huge US music festival, despite still barely toddling at only five years old. The go-to US festival for everything electro, drum & bass, dubstep and dance draws home-grown talent, as well as DJs and live electronic acts from across the world, to two main stages over Labor Day Weekend. Dubbed the “happiest place on Earth” by the Village Voice, Electric Zoo, a no-camping festival, will set the biggest and boldest beats on the planet against the iconic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. The 2013 line-up is still to be announced.
Seattle (Washington) August 31 – September 2 2013, from $99.00
Touted as “North America’s largest urban arts festival”, Bumbershoot dwarfs the newer Sasquatch Festival held in Washington earlier in the year. While festival-goers sweat in their sandals at other US summer events, the 100,000+ Bumbershoot crowd can enjoy temperate Seattle climes alongside talent across a vast range of disciplines, including dance, theatre, visual arts, film, comedy and the spoken word. Running every year since 1971, Bumbershoot played host to Tony Bennett, Jane’s Addiction, Skrillex and Gotye last year, with this high-caliber year’s headliners due to be announced in May.