VF's Top Tips: American Festivals

United States United States | by Daniel Fahey | 14 January 2008

Since music festivals were made mandatory in the Bill of Rights they’ve been cropping up all over the show with thousands of events being held each year. We've scrawled through them all to bring you the definitive choice of USA field soirees…

10 - Popped! Festival20-22 June - Drexel University, Philadelphia
Held in the city where the Fresh Prince was 'born and raised' this three-day festival is back for its second year in the grounds of the university. Don't let that put you off, non-scholars. Hip hop funksters The Roots will be performing their album 'Things Fall Apart' in its entirety on the Friday this year, as well as curating the entire festival, so expect an eclectic mix of artists and bands.

9 - Vineland Music Festival8-10 August - Vineland, Cumberland County, New Jersey
"I love it when a plan comes together," the A-Team's Hannibal used to famously drawl and that's what the organisers of Vineland Music Festival are hoping. The event has been put together by Festival Republic (Glasto, Reading and Leeds) and C3 (Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza) and has been billed as: 'a weekend of pure unadulterated rock n roll pleasure' – much like a pub crawl with Keith Richards and Shane McGowan.

8 - Langerado Festival6-9 March - Big Cypress Indian Reservation, Florida
Langerado Festival returns for a sixth year at its new venue on an Indian Reservation in Florida. The four-day festival allows revellers to enjoy an eclectic line-up of artists across five stages and has already lined up The Wailers, R.E.M. and The Roots. Also expect plenty of green-fingered action with a sustainability village onsite, bio-diesel generators and biodegradable plates and cups.

7 - Virgin FestivalPimlico Racecourse, Baltimore
The mighty Virgin Festival is still a baby compared to its wealthy British counterpart as it gears up for its third edition. In regards to booking bands expect organisers to pull out all the stops as well as pulling out hoards of advertising too. Last year The Police and The Smashing Pumpkins headlined so could Baltimore be seeing more band reunions in 2008?

6 - Download (USA)18 August - 6 October - Boston, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco
Download (USA) is another event export from the shores of Blighty, but it follows the 'touring' festival idea that has proved popular in Australia. A little less heavy than its British counterpart, the American version has seen the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck and Modest Mouse performing in previous years, so expect more of the same in 2008.

5 – Bonnaroo - 12-15 June -Manchester, Tennessee
"Manchester, so much to answer for," sang Morrissey. He was obviously on about Christiano Ronaldo, but don't worry the Winker won't be at Bonnaroo because he'll be at the World Cup. Instead Metallica and Led Zepplin are rumoured to be on the bill with other acts spanning rock, hip hop and electronica set to play across the four days.    

4 - Austin City Limits26-28 September - Zilker Park, Austin, Texas
With SXSW the main affair in Austin, Texas, there has always been a feeling of 'this town ain’t big enough for the both of us.' But since it began in 2002 the Austin City Limits has regularly attracted big crowds and big names in equal measures. Muse, The Killers, Bjork and Arcade Fire wowed the 65,000 revellers in 2007 and organisers are likely to lasoo some equally giant acts this time round.

3 – Lollapalooza1-3 August - Grant Park, Chicago
What started out as a final farewell tour for Jane's Addiction has swarmed into one of the best known US festivals. Lollapalooza tries to capture the spirit of Woodstock for revellers of the modern generation. The original 'touring' festival has finally found a home in Chicago where it continues to draw in massive acts from around the world like Daft Punk, Muse and whatever band Perry Farrell is playing in at the time.

2 – Coachella25-27 April - Empire Polo Field, California
Coachella is the Dear Deidre of the festival world. The event is renowned for getting bands to reunite (usually for copious amounts of cash.) Rage Against The Machine, Pixies and Jane's Addiction have all found solace in the desert festival in recent years and the band reunion tag is starting to stick. So go along and see if favourites like Daphne and Celeste, Cartoons or The Beatles decide to reunite for one show only, or just bask in the hot Californian conditions and admire the great line-up and art pieces.

1 – South By Southwest 2008 (SXSW) - Music, Films and Interactive7-16 March - Austin, Texas
Forget the Eurosonics and Camden Crawls; SXSW has broken more bands than Courtney Love. Bars, clubs and restaurants around Austin, Texas, host top new talent from across the globe and unleash them on preying band-bookers and promoters. Expect loads of beer, BBQs and bucketfuls of sweat as this week-long showcase brings you the next Arctic Monkeys, the odd Coldplay and probably a Courtney Love too…

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