Summer Music Festivals

An aerial photo of Lollapalooza

It’s getting to be crunch time for summer festival ticket ordering. With Bonnaroo looming large and Popfest shaping up to be everything I’ve heard it was, this summer is looking mighty fine indeed. The following is a summation of all the summer concerts happening in the midwest (that came to my mind this past week). I’ve noted the ones I’ll be attending with a * Feel free to either leave suggestions of bands to see, or what festivals you’ll be attending.

BONNAROO: June 15-18 Manchester, TN*

In the past, the Bonnaroo music festival has developed a rep for being populated by jam bands and nouveau-hippies. While there have always been a wide range of artists that span most of the major genres, it seems that the festival has been unable to shake its curious stigma. Well not any more. Bonnaroo has taken another step towards appealing to a wider audience this year through what is arguably their best lineup yet.

It started with the announcement that Radiohead and Beck would be headlining the 2006 Bonnaroo music festival. Ever since then, it’s seemed that bands have ranged from the expected (Phil Lesh, moe, and Bela Fleck) to the somewhat surprising (Stephen Malkmus, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and The Streets). In fact, one of the most interesting additions was recent major-label signees and O.C. darlings, Death Cab For Cutie.

When asked if he or the rest of the band were worried about performing at what has traditionally been known as a jam band festival, Nick Harmer of Death Cab For Cutie said that he had “zero concern.”

“We’re just excited to be playing for people that are music enthusiasts,” he explained. “I think our music will do OK in that setting….There are a lot of other bands on the bill that are of similar ilk to us, so I think we’re going to do alright.”

In addition to indie favorites and ‘Roo staple acts, the festival recently added a wide range of activities to enhance the overall atmosphere of the weekend. According to their web site, festival-goers can expect to see “street performers, fire-breathers, acrobats, musicians, puppeteers” and other people to spice up the days and add life to the night.

Bonnaroo takes place between June 15th through the 18th in Manchester, Tennessee. (

DESDEMONA: June 23-25 Cincinnati, OH*

Desdemona has gone from a relatively unknown festival in its first year to one of the more anticipated events of the summer, seemingly overnight. Its success is most likely thanks in part to an area starved of musical entertainment combined with a fantastic lineup that includes the likes of The Fiery Furnaces, Ghostface, We Are Scientists, Mates of State and Rogue Wave. If this comes off as being half as good as it looks, then those in attendence are assured a great time.

Desdemona takes place between June 23rd and 25th at Sawyer Point Waterfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (

INTONATION: June 24-25 Chicago, IL

The confusion caused the Pitchfork/Intonation concerts this summer have no doubt given hundreds of hipsters headaches. While Pfork curated last year’s Intonation Music Festival, this year is being put on by your good buddies at Vice Records. As such, they’ve loaded the bill with artists ranging from the hip (Bloc Party and The Stills) to the classic (Robert Pollard and Dead Prez) to the awesome (Jose Gonzalez, Favourite Sons, et al.)

The Intonation Music Festival is happening June 24th and 25th at Union Park in Chicago, Illinoi. (

FORECASTLE: July 28-29 Louisville, KY

If you hadn’t guessed, Kentucky isn’t exactly a hotspot for music. Sure, we’re currently home to My Morning Jacket, VHS or Beta, half of the Apples in Stereo and one Pavement member, but that doesn’t mean any bands ever want to play here. So to combat the lack of concerts, some masterminds from Louisville thought it might be a good idea to pool their efforts. The result was the Forecastle Festival, now well into its fourth year, a two day event designed to draw in the best in music, art and activism. This year the first night is headlined by The Apples in Stereo, and the second by Sleater-Kinney.

The Forecastle Festival is happening July 28-29 in Louisville, Kentucky. (


Internet giant Pitchfork Media curated last year’s Intonation music festival, the success of which has lead them to start their own this summer. While the full lineup has yet to be announced, the performers which have been confirmed are enough to whet any music afficionado’s appetite. Indie rockers Spoon and Ted Leo are slated to play, as are folk artists The Mountain Goats and Jens Lekman. Surprisingly, the most attractive thing about the Pitchfork Music Festival isn’t the stellar lineup, but rather the price: $30 for a weekend pass. You read that correctly; 38 bands for $30. You can’t get a deal like that on iTunes.

The Pitchfork Music Festival takes place July 29th and 30th at Union Park in Chicago, Illinois. (

KUYAHOGA: August 3 Cuyahoga Falls, OH

If you’re looking to combing proximity, price and performers, it doesn’t get much better than Kuyahoga. The Flaming Lips, Death Cab For Cutie, and Sonic Youth will be performing at the one-day event. Seeing even just those three bands is well worth the ticket price, which starts at around $20.

Kuyahoga takes place on August 3rd at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (

LOLLAPALOOZA: August 4-6 Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza, Perry Farrell’s musical phenomenon, returns once again to Chicago. With a lineup that features the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, The Shins and Ryan Adams, this year’s festival is definitely one of the most all-inclusive tickets. Lollapalooza is known for premiering many artists which break big in the coming year, so be sure to check out the numerous smaller bands and forego the huge crowds.

Lollapalooza takes place between August 4th through the 6th at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. (

ATHENS POPFEST: August 8-12 Athens, GA*

Put on by the Mike from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, the Athens Popfest has become arguably the strongest of all popfests. Routinely drawing in the Elephant 6 crew (this year: The Apples in Stereo, Circulatory System, et al.), indie staple acts (The Mountain Goats and Deerhoof), as well as a younger generation of bands (The Happy Bullets, Ponies in the Surf), Popfest has been yet another shining example as to why Athens is counted among the meccas for indepenedent music. This year’s event kicks off with a free show on Thursday the 8th, and continues with four more days of music.

Athens Popfest takes place between August 8th and 12th in Athens, Georgia. (

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