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Summer 2014’s 40 Must-See Music Festivals

From Jazzfest to Electric Daisy Carnival, a guide to the season’s biggest and loudest bashes

bruce springsteen lorde perform

Rick Diamond/WireImage; Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Radio.com

With concert revenues increasing, EDM continuing to expand and companies like Live Nation creating new events every year, 2014's crop of music festivals might be bigger and larger than any to come before it. In order help make sense of the madness, Rolling Stone has compiled a list of 40 festivals taking place across the United States and Canada, beginning with Jazzfest in April and ending with TomorrowWorld in September, detailed what makes them unique and put together a list of the 15 must-see acts at each one. Get ready a few months of suntans, sun burns, loud music and plenty of Outkast. By Cady Drell, Sean McCabe, Nick Murray, Mosi Reeves, Katherine St. Asaph, Alexis Stephens, Christopher R. Weingarten, Killian Young


Electric Daisy Carnival

Steven Lawton/Getty Images

Electric Daisy Carnival

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

When: June 20th-22nd

Why Go: With last year’s attendance topping 300,000 and DJs like Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex all performing, EDC has become a rite of passage for the EDM generation. The 2014 festival sold out in days even though Insomniac Events hasn’t announced the lineup yet.

best coast

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Milwaukee Summerfest

When: June 25th-29nd, July 1st-6th

Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why Go: Older than Woodstock, Summerfest has been hosting big names and bigger crowds since 1968, and this year's edition features 800 acts scheduled across 11 days. The pricing structure, meanwhile, is reasonable and convenient, with full badges going for 70 dollars and single day passes ranging from six dollars (for seniors and children) to sixteen (for everyone else). The biggest names – this year, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, Bruno Mars and Outkast – play in the waterfront Marcus Amphitheater at events that are ticketed separately.

15 Must-See Acts: Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, Bruno Mars, Outkast, Paramore, Usher, Ludacris, Phoenix, the Hold Steady, Arctic Monkeys, Kip Moore, Nas, B.o.B., Zac Brown Band, Babe Ruth

Prince performs

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for NPG Records 2013

Essence Fest

When: July 3rd-6th

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Why Go: Now in its 20th year and hosted by Essence magazine, this is arguably the biggest black music festival in the country, with over 400,000 people attending its dozens of performances and "Empower U" workshops. The biggest headliner is none other than Prince, who will be taking over the main stage to perform old hits, jam with Nile Rodgers and "launch Essence's first-ever hackathon."

15 Must-See Acts: Prince, Nile Rodgers, Mary J. Blige, the Roots, Jill Scott, Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, Erykah Badu, Tamar Braxton, K. Michelle, Estelle, Robert Glasper, August Alsina, Sevyn Streeter, Stephanie Mills

David Wolff - Patrick/Getty Images

Rockstar Mayhem Festival

When: July 5th – August 10th

Where: San Bernardino (CA), Mountain View (CA), Auburn (WA), Nampa (ID), Phoenix (AZ), Albuquerque (NM), Denver (CO), Morrison (CO), Maryland Heights (MO), Clarkston (MI), Milwaukee (WI), Noblesville (IN), Tinley Park (IL), Mansfield (MA), Saratoga Springs (NY), Toronto (ON), Burgettstown (PA), Hartford (CT), Darien Center (NY), Wantagh (NY), Camden (NJ), Scranton (PA), Bristow (VA), Atlanta (GA), Oklahoma City (OK), Dallas (TX), the Woodlands (TX)

Why Go: With Avenged Sevenfold headlinging and Korn playing directly beforehand, this one is going to get loud. It might not be very rockstar, but earplugs aren't a bad idea for those who want to catch early acts like Suicide Silence (touring for the first time since the death – motorcycle accident – of frontman Mitch Lucker), mosh to the later ones and still be able hear their buddies scream about how awesome it all was on the drive home.

15 Must-See Acts: Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Body Count, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, Emmure, Veil of Maya, Ill Nino, Texas Hippie Coalition, Veil of Maya, Upon a Burning Body

the replacements

Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage


When: July 18th-20th

Where: Louisville, Kentucky

Why Go: As the headliners – Jack White, Beck, Outkast – suggest, Forecastle is a festival for alt-country and Americana fans who aren't afraid of a little pop. That perspective makes the lineup here relatively unique, with artists like Dwight Yoakam, Sharon Jones, Hayes Carll, Action Bronson and Waxahatchee all performing on the shore of the Ohio River.

15 Must-See Acts: Outkast, Jack White, Beck, Spoon, Against Me!, Yoakam, Jones, Carll, Waxahatchee, Gary Clark Jr., Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jason Isbell, the Replacements, Jenny Lewis, Charli XCX

kendrick lamar

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Pitchfork Music Festival

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: July 18th-20th

Why Go: Pitchfork Music Fest provides an opportunity to see the most hyped-up bands of the year (and often the decade) in one weekend. If you’ve ever considered yourself a part of an artist’s cult following, this is where you’ll meet your fellow members.

15 Must-See Artists: Kendrick Lamar, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beck, Giogio Moroder, St. Vincent, Grimes, Danny Brown, Tune-Yards, Pusha T, Sharon Van Etten, Neneh Cherry, Deafheaven, Cloud Nothings, Kelela, DJ Rasah & DJ Spinn

insane clown posse

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Gathering of the Juggalos

When: July 23rd-27th

Where: Thornville, Ohio

Why Go: The Gathering has always felt like a family reunion, and the combination of Twiztid's recent Pyschopathic Records departure and the festival's exodus from its old Illinois home should make this year's edition particularly sentimental – at least until the music starts. Facepainted favorites like Tech N9ne, Blaze Ya Dead Homie and of course, hosts Insane Clown Posse will all make sure that the crowd stays on edge and amped up.

15 Must-See Acts: Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid, Tech N9ne, Dark Lotus, Da Mafia 6ix, Psychopathic Rydas, Anybody Killa, Kottonmouth Kings, Hopsin, Boondox, Legz Diamond and the Purple Gang, Wolfpac, Big Hoodoo, Dizzy Wright, Mike E. Clark

neutral milk hotel

Courtesy of Neutral Milk Hotel

Merge 25

When: July 23-26th

Where: Durham, North Carolina

Why Go: To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the indie that put out notable records by Arcade Fire, Spoon, Magnetic Fields and Superchunk (whose Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance in fact founded the label), a handful of its best and brightest are performing at the four-day Merge 25 fest in Durham and Carrboro, North Carolina. Among the many confirmed artists, Neutral Milk Hotel, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Mould, Imperial Teen and, of course, Superchunk, will perform, and indie rockers Lambchop will play their 2000 Merge touchstone Nixon in its entirety.

15 Must-See Acts: Superchunk, Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bob Mould, Imperial Teen, Lambchop, Wye Oak, the Clientele, Destroyer, Ex Hex, the Mountain Goats, the Love Language, Eleanor Friedberger, Caribou, Reigning Sound