This Summer’s Music Festival Foursome

An insider’s guide to the music fests worth going out of your way to see.

Festival organizers generally entice you into the muddy fields—then leave you wanting. They pad the bill with emo bands, skimp on sound quality, and hire “security” that comes to rumble. “With so many festivals now, there are more chances to waste your money,” says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert industry mag Pollstar. To ensure you rock it right, we vetted hundreds of festivals to find the all-around best, no matter your taste. See you in the beer line.

**Visit for a complete guide to all the music festivals this summer!**


Radiohead playing “Wolf at the Door” and “Creep”

The Intimate Gathering
All Points WestAugust 8–10, Liberty State Park, N.J.

Fifty bands will converge on a lush lawn in Liberty State Park (with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop) for All Points, one of the smallest of the big festivals (only 35,000 people).
Crowd-pleaser: Radiohead
Indie cred: The Roots, Cat Power, Kings of Leon, Animal Collective
Escape plan: The festival is offering ferry rides to and from Manhattan. Relish this trip, as it will offer the best—and only — New York breeze you’ll enjoy in mid-August.


Radio Slave live in Madrid

The Electronic Orgy
MutekMay 28–June 1, Montreal

The world’s preeminent knob twiddlers and DJs convene for a marathon of electronica and all its permutations. You can catch established turntablists as well as avant-garde upstarts who manipulate bizarre noises into trippy melodic feasts (or seizure-inducing headaches).
Crowd-pleaser: Radio Slave
Indie cred: Kode9 & Spaceape, Kid Koala, Carl Craig
Escape plan: The dollar still has purchasing power in Canada, so you can act like a big playa in Montreal’s notorious strip clubs.


Vampire Weekend playing “A-Punk”

The Music Snob Blowout
Pitchfork Music FestivalJuly 18–20, Union Park, Chicago

Sponsored by the indier-than-thou music Web site Pitchfork, it may have the summer’s best bill for aficionados.
Crowd-pleasers: Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon
Indie cred: Public Enemy and Mission of Burma are perform-ing their seminal albums It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold UsBack and Vs., respectively.
Escape plan: Head to Delilah’s on North Lincoln Avenue for the late-night bar’s deep whiskey menu, which features more than 350 brands to sip.


Beck playing “Guero”

The Warm, Fuzzy Fest
Outside Lands Festival August 22–24, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Located in the Bay Area’s premier park, this is by far the greenest festival, with biodiesel generators and solar power charging the show. Plus, it boasts the world’s largest valet parking service—for bikes.
Crowd-pleasers: Beck, Wilco
Indie cred: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Manu Chao
Escape plan: Go to the wine tents, where you can taste the best vino from nearby Napa and Sonoma counties.