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

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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



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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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