Summer 2014's 40 Must-See Music Festivals - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

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

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

Hurray for the Riff Raff

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Newport Folk Festival

When: July 25th-27th

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Why Go: Fort Adams' bayside location makes Newport Folk the most temperate festival you’ll attend this summer, guaranteed. The lineup for 2014 may be the best (and most eclectic) the festival has had in years, with a mix of fresh-faced local groups and seasoned national vets playing on a stage that comes pre-equipped with its own rich musical history. Newport is back on the must-see list.

Must-See Artists: Jeff Tweedy, Reignwolf, Mavis Staples, Jimmy Cliff, Robert Hunter, the Lonesome Trio, Lake Street Dive, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Band of Horses, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Deer Tick, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Jenny Lewis, Valerie June

diplo performs

Ollie Millington/WireImage

Mad Decent Block Party

When: July 26th – September 21st

Where: Ft. Lauderdale (FL), Atlanta (GA), Washington, D.C., Norfolk (VA), Philadelphia (PA), Brooklyn (NY), Boston (MA), Toronto (ON), Detroit (MI), Las Vegas (NV), Denver (CO), Nashville (TN), New Orleans (LA), New Braunfels (TX), Dallas (TX), Calgary (AB), Phoenix (AZ), Los Angeles (CA), San Diego (CA), Berkeley (CA), Eugene (OR), Vancouver (BC)

Why Go: Kids come for the names like Diplo and Dillon Francis but dance just as much to the artists they otherwise might never have heard. The lineup changes from city-to-city, but make sure you arrive early enough to catch sets from people like soca superstar Bunji Garlin, Mexican genre-fuser Toy Selectah and Philly club DJs Sega and Swizzymack.

15 Must-See Acts: Outkast, Diplo, Garlin, Fatboy Slim, Dillon Francis, Chance the Rapper, DJ Sega, DJ Swizzymack, Riff Raff, Sleigh Bells, Toy Selectah, Walshy Fire, A$AP Ferg, Dan Deacon, DJ Snake

disco biscuits

Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Gathering of the Vibes

When: July 31st – August 3rd

Where: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Why Go: There are a handful of festivals keeping the Northeast both weird and intoxicated, but none do it quite as successfully as the Gathering of the Vibes, the jam band spectacular that was founded in 1996 as a way to cope with the passing of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. This year's festival includes not only Dead tribute wizards Dark Star Orchestra but also a Disco Biscuits set that will include former Dead members Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart.

15 Must-See Acts: The Disco Biscuits, John Fogerty, Dark Star Orchestra, Widespread Panic, Ziggy Marley, Umphrey's McGee, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, Maceo Parker, Rusted Root, Widespread Panic, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Moe., Rodrigo y Gabriela, Keller William's Grateful Grass, Slightly Stoopid


Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival

When: August 1st-3rd

Where: Montreal, Quebec

Why Go: Sharing a weekend and a handful of artists with Lollapalooza, Osheaga is one of Canada's best music festivals, held in the middle of summer at Montreal’s scenic Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène. Though headlining acts are split between two adjacent stages, none of their sets overlap, so it’s still possible to see every big name perform.

15 Must-See Acts: Outkast, Jack White, Skrillex, Haim, Lorde, the Replacements, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Modest Mouse, Lykke Li, Chromeo, Chvrches, Sbtrkt, Tiga, Against Me!, Danny Brown

trombone shorty

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Newport Jazz Fest

When: August 1st-3rd

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Why Go: Newport Jazz Festival consistently keeps it real for its core fanbase. For its 60th anniversary, the 2014 edition mixes of respected acts with rising stars in the jazz world, bringing Bobby McFerrin, Vijay Iyer, Dr. John and Ravi Coltrane to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

15 Must-See Acts: Iyer, Dr. John, Coltrane, McFerrin, David Sanborn, Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Short and Orleans Avenue, David Sanborn & Joey DeFrancesco, Robert Glasper, John Zorn's Masada Marathon, Miguel Zenón, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Darcy James Argue, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Holland


Kevin Mazur/WireImage


When: August 1st-3rd

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Why Go: Beneath the stodgy expected acts (a bingo card’s worth of EDM names, another Outkast reunion that may or may not troll casuals, Kings of Leon) are a couple a little more interesting: UK dance newcomer Duke Dumont, budding songwriters Meg Myers and Courtney Barnett, outre-leaning but still festival-friendly acts like Blood Orange and Run the Jewels.

15 Must-See Acts: Eminem, Outkast, Skrillex, Duke Dumont, Lorde, Krewella, Courtney Barnett, Blood Orange, Run the Jewels, Sebastian Ingrosso, the Avett Brothers, Rudimental, Parquet Courts, Lykke Li, Rich Homie Quan


HARD Summer

When: August 2nd-3rd

Where: South El Monte, California

Why Go: Hard Summer earns its name with aggressive acts like DJ Snake, Kill the Noise, Nero and Flosstradamus but deserves golf claps for complimenting them with deeper DJs like London's Maya Jane Coles and New York house-heads the Martinez Brothers. And after spending last year in the shadow of Dodger Stadium, 2014's event is moving 10 miles east to the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, which will provide room for a fifth stage and a few thousand more fans.

15 Must-See Acts: Axwell, Jack U (Skrillex and Diplo), A$AP Mob, Tiësto, Disclosure, Dillon Francis, Flosstradamus, DJ Snake, Seth Troxler, the Martinez Brothers, Martin Garrix, A-Trak, Coles, Clockwork, DJ Sliink


Tracy Allison

OVO Fest

When: August 4th-5th

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Why Go: With Outkast as an announced co-headliner, OVO Fest could be subtitled "Drake and his Amazing Friends." The Canadian superstar has a reputation for inviting his fellow rap monarchs to his annual homecoming: Last year’s installment featured surprise appearances from Kanye West and TLC as well as performances from his cohorts in Lil Wayne’s Young Money squad. Full lineup to come.


Jeff Lombardo/Getty Images

Outside Lands

When: August 8th-10th

Where: San Francisco, California

Why Go: Kanye and Tom Petty aside, Outside Lands deserves a pat on the back for its uncanny ability to pick the massive headliners of tomorrow and give them a captive audience. If you don’t know Mikal Cronin, Watsky or Gold Panda yet, you will – and they’ll be here first.

15 Must-See Acts: Kanye West, Petty, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tiësto, the Killers, Disclosure, Duck Sauce, Kacey Musgraves, Sbtrkt, Death Cab for Cutie, Warpaint, Arctic Monkeys, Haim, Capital Cities, Cronin


C Flanigan/FilmMagic


When: August 30th – September 1st

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why Go: 2014’s lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but last year’s was rather strong: Death Cab for Cutie performing Transatlanticism, Kendrick Lamar, Tegan and Sara just off Heartthrob, gossamer duo Tamaryn, Heart (yes, that Heart.) The festival tends to lean more toward local Seattle acts, less toward the obvious.

jay z performs

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Made in America

When: August 30th-31st

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, California

Why Go: The third edition of Jay Z’s Budweiser-sponsored festival will take place in L.A. as well as its native Philadelphia this Labor Day weekend, making it the first event to "run simultaneously on both coasts." Does that mean Jay Hova will be in two places at once? We don’t know yet because lineups haven’t been released, but last year brought Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Calvin Harris, Nine Inch Nails and Kendrick Lamar.

marnie stern performs

Annabel Staff/Redferns


When: September 4th-6th

Where: Raleigh, North Carolina

Why Go: Now entering it's fifth year of taking over a dozen-or-so venues in Raleigh, Hopscotch is a whimsical, weird festival that's full of alt-rock big names – headliners include Spoon, Mastodon, St. Vincent and Sun Kil Moon. But the organizers here are experts at subverting the usual fest fare: This year you can also catch drone pioneer Tony Conrad, art-rapper Open Mike Eagle, no-wave weirdos Guerilla Toss and the 14-drummer performance of IIII.

15 Must-See Acts: St. Vincent, Sun Kil Moon, Spoon, Mastodon, Jamie xx, Conrad, Lunice, IIII, Thurston Moore, White Lung, Open Mike Eagle, Nguzunguzu, Mark McGuire, Guerilla Toss, How to Dress Well

riot fest

Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Riot Fest

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: September 12th-14th

Why Go: Celebrating its 10th anniversary with offshoots in Toronto and Denver, Riot Fest may not get the same buzz as Lollapalooza or Pitchfork, but it holds its own among Chicago festivals. Although the lineup hasn’t been announced yet, last year’s bill featured the Replacements, Blondie and Bad Religion and alternative rappers Atmosphere and Dessa.

virgin freefest

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Virgin Freefest

When: Mid-September

Where: Columbia, Maryland

Why Go: The name doesn't lie – this one only costs money if you want to eat concessions or buy merch. The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but if it's as good as last years – Vampire Weekend, Robin Thicke, Chvrches, Sky Ferreira, Kaskade and more – you might end up doing the latter. The venue, meanwhile, is one of the best in the country, featuring both an expansive lawn for casual listening and bleachers for those who want to get close to the action.



Christopher Polk/Getty Images


When: September 26th-28th

Where: Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia

Why Go: People love Belgium's Tomorrowland (last year an American raver told us that his prep for the weekend of shirtless fist-pumping included months of gym work-outs), but spin-off TomorrowWorld provides an option that will likely be both equally loud and a few thousand miles closer to home. The lineup has yet to be announced, but expect to hear EDM's biggest names playing EDM's biggest hits in the middle of an fantasy environment reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland's 2010 Tim Burton remix.

Denise Truscello/WireImage

Electric Zoo

When: August 29th-31st

Where: New York City, New York

Why Go: After two fans in their early twenties died of drug overdoses on the second day of the 2013 edition, this festival's future seemed in question. But the show will go on, with festival promoters promising increased medical and security procedures to "provide fans the safest possible experience."

rock the bells

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Rock the Bells

When: TBD

Where: TBD

Why Go: With performances from Kendrick Lamar, YG, a reunited Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Odd Future, the 2013 Rock the Bells featured one of the festival's strongest lineups. Unfortunately, a feuding, partially assembled Wu-Tang Clan and canceled tour dates in New York and Washington D.C. marred the festival’s tenth anniversary. Though plans for a 2014 edition haven’t been announced, expect this celebration of hip-hop culture to bounce back this year.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.