Can’t-Miss Music Fests

Will travel for summertime awesomeness

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

As the weather warms up, so does the human appetite for live music. Indeed, the biggest and best festivals are about to get underway. So here’s a convenient list of sonic bashes that are sure to stoke your hunger for indie rock, folk rock and everything else under the sun—all within relatively easy driving or flying distance.

Taking place along the Columbia River, three hours from Seattle, Sasquatch! (May 23-25) just keeps getting hairier and heavier. The headliners—The National, Queens of the Stone Age, M.I.A., Outkast—are cool, but so are the second-tier acts such as Deafheaven (the avant-black metal band that recently leveled LVCS), Haim (who rocked the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard pool last month), Major Lazer and Tune-Yards. Is there a better locale to bask in great sounds than under the blue skies of the gorgeous Cascade Range? Doubtful.

Southwest offers so many flights to Nashville that it would be a shame to miss Bonnaroo (June 12-15). Not only will Kanye West attempt to compensate for his previous 4 a.m. (!) performance, but the metal lineup—Mastodon and Messhuggah—should be impressive, too. Not to mention the alt and indie offerings such as the Flaming Lips and Phoenix! The EDM acts are nothing to sneeze at, either. But for me, the chance to see African bands Master Musicians of Jajouka and Seun Kuti is the real temptation.

You don’t even need to leave town to catch killer punk-rock bands. Van’s Warped Tour touches down at the UNLV intramural fields June 19, and if you’re my age and haven’t heard of these groups—Anberlin, Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Falling in Reverse—ask your kids. I’ll be attending just to see Canadian female-fronted three-piece Courage My Love and emo vets Saves the Day. If you’re under 18, you get to bring your parents for free?! Thank God my 8-year-old boasts a purple Mohawk.

The traveling, loud guitars-centric Rockstar Mayhem Festival (July 5-Aug. 10) peppers the West pretty mightily with stops in Denver, Phoenix and San Bernardino and Mountain View, California. The bands are nearly all first-rate—Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Body Count (can you believe it?), Suicide Silence—just to name a handful. Earplugs are a necessity at a metal-focused fest like this one. But whatever you do, don’t forget the golden rule of porta-potties: Never hold it! Otherwise, the mosh pit will get a tad too, well, mushy.

Outside Lands (Aug. 8-10) in San Francisco looks promising, with everyone from Tom Petty to Arctic Monkeys set to rock the stage in historic Golden Gate Park. Hometown heroes the Killers will be there, too. But I’d kill your sister to see Death Cab for Cutie and Jenny Lewis in the same vicinity, simply for the slim hope of a Postal Service reunion. A music writer can always dream, right?

What’s your must-see summer concert? Email