Previous Next

Jesus Lizard at Pitchfork. Photo by matthewnorth

Alex Nolette highlights ten of America’s best summer music festivals, some well known and some not.
All Good (West Virginia)

The All Good Festival bills itself as four days of music, camping, and loving. The site is a big field at Marvin’s mountaintop in Masontown, WV. Tents, tie-died shirts, and brotherly love recommended. Further, Widespread Panic, and Umphrey’s Mcgee headline. July 8-11

Camp Bisco (Mariaville, NY)

Although the Disco Biscuits are the curators of Camp Bisco, this is not the jamband line-up one would expect. ”Wu Massacre” (Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghost Face), LCD Soundsystem, Girl Talk, Ween, and the Disco Biscuits headline three days of music that will not leave you bored.

The often muddy field at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY is usually inhabited by gypsies, pot lovers, and fun loving hippies. July 15-17

Siren. abbynormy

Pitchfork (Chicago)

Pitchfork is a three day festival of tight jeans, flannel, and Ray bans. This is the Mecca for independent music. Hosted by Pitchfork Media in Union Park of West Side Chicago, the festival promises to have enough breathing room and necessities to accommodate the large crowd that will be piling-in due to low ticket prices and bands like Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem, Pavement, Big Boi, Beach House, and Wolf Parade. July 16 – 18

SirenFest (New York)

For the past ten years, indie rock enthusiasts have headed to Coney Island, Brooklyn to attend SirenFest. Siren is a one day free festival that is guaranteed to be a lot of fun and not lack any of the Coney Island freak show. Matt and Kim and Cymbals Eat Guitars will be playing, just to name a few. July 17

Hullabalou (Louisville)

Some of the biggest names in music are getting together to play this this three day event at Churchill Downs. The beautiful home of the Kentucky Derby will set up with five stages and an artist list that will blow your mind. Just check out the band line-up to understand how big this festival will be.

Bon Jovi, Huey Lewis and the News, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, and Ben Folds are some of the big names you can expect. July 23-25

Lolla. Photo by mjanicki

Maha (Omaha)

Omaha’s downtown waterfront on the Missouri river makes for a beautiful backdrop for Maha. Bands like Spoon, The Faint, Superchunk, The Old 97’s, and Ben Kweller will be your soundtrack to the day. July 24

Lollapalooza (Chicago)

Prepare yourself! Originally a touring festival catering to the “Alternative Nation”, Lollapalooza is a festival that appeals to all musical elitists. It is also one of the many music festivals making a push towards going green.

Now a three day festival stationed in Grant Park, Chicago, the 2010 line-up is just as varied as it always has been. With names like Green Day, Lady Gaga, Soundgarden, Phoenix, Minus the Bear, Blues Traveler and B.O.B, the crowd will be as diverse as the bands. August 6-8

Outside Lands (San Francisco)

After only two years on the block, Outside Lands is quickly becoming the summer Coachella. Bands are jumping at the chance to play in beautiful Golden Gate Park, and the crowds are enormous.

If the weather turns out just right, OL is the perfect place to capture memorable performances from Further, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, My Morning Jacket, Phoenix, or any other band on this stellar bill. August 14-15

Bumpershoot. Photo by bandfan

ATP (Monticello, New York)

Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, NY is host to ATP NY’s three day indoor concert series. Performances by Sonic Youth, Explosions in the Sky, and Iggy and the Stooges playing the entire Raw Power record should leave even the most ravenous music listeners satisfied. September 3-5

Bumbershoot (Seattle)

The grandfather of the great summer festivals, Bumbershoot was started in 1971 at the Seattle Center. An all arts festival, music isn’t the only thing that bumbershoot offers. Comedy, theatre, dance, literary arts, and visual arts pack your three days with plenty to do.

With acts like Bob Dylan, Mary J. Blige, Weezer, Hole, and Drake headlining, good luck trying to pry your eyes from the stage. September 4-6



About The Author

Alex Nolette

Alex Nolette is an overly self-critical, and strangely observant mid-twenties male. An over-active imagination manages to keep him sane in his mediocre life. A wanderer of sorts, he currently has his car parked in Raleigh,NC.

  • Linda

    Forecastle in Louisville is my choice of music festival in town this summer, but that’s because I’ve seen Ben Folds five times and want to see the Flaming Lips more than Dave Matthews.

    Thanks for a handy list!

    • Alex Nolette

      I’m not really sure how I missed that one! It must have been buried in the depths of the search engine. Yeah, I would probably much rather go to forecastle. Thanks though.

    • Kate Sedgwick

      Yay, Louisville!

  • Carolyn

    You missed a fabulous one – The National Folk Festival – this year held in Butte, MT.

  • Annie

    I had to hold my breath to see if Bumbershoot would make it! It’s a summer staple. Two years ago we also went to a really great one in Denver: The Mile High Music Festival.

    We got Dave Matthews one night and Tom Petty the next!! Not sure how it went the second year around because I was off traveling!

    Perfect list to get summer rolling!

  • Buffy

    Great list! I don’t often come south of the border for festivals (Canada has our own share) but these ones are tempting.

    If you’re getting your gear together, we did a recent blog on “5 Unusual Items to Pack for a Summer Festival” that has some tips!:

  • RobertKCole

    You left off Summerfest in Milwaukee, which just closed its 2010 run. It’s the world’s largest music festival with 700 bands over 11 days on 11 stages.

    Admission runs from $8.00 to $15.00, except for the “big acts” playing in the Marcus Amphitheater. One can argue that the most relevant music was being performed outside the amphitheater…

    Here was what the 2010 lineup looked like:

    Marcus Amphitheater Shows (Concert Ticket includes Summerfest Admission)
    American Idols Live
    Carrie Underwood & Sons of Sylvia
    Eric Clapton & Roger Daltrey
    Justin Bieber & Sean Kingston
    Lynyrd Skynyrd & .38 Special
    Santana & Steve Winwood
    Tim McGraw w/ Lady Antebellum & Love and Theft
    Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers & ZZ Top
    Usher & Lyfe Jennings

    Summerfest Headliners (Included in General Admission pricing)
    August Burns Red
    Average White Band
    B.B. King
    Blue Oyster Cult
    Cage the Elephant
    Colbie Caillat
    Counting Crows
    Cowboy Mouth
    Cypress Hill
    Danny Gokey
    Dark Star Orchestra
    Del McCoury
    Dierks Bentley
    Fever Marlene
    Gavin DeGraw
    Gavin Rossdale
    Hawthorne Heights
    Jeff Beck
    Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
    John Hiatt
    Kellie Pickler
    Kool and the Gang
    Less Than Jake
    Levon Helm Band
    Mint Condition
    Modest Mouse
    Neon Trees
    Night Ranger
    Papa Roach
    Passion Pit
    Pat McCurdy
    Peter Frampton
    Phil Vassar
    Public Enemy
    Puddle of Mudd
    Robert Randolph & the Family Band
    Savoy Brown
    Sheryl Crow
    Sick Puppies
    Silversun Pickups
    Slightly Stoopid
    Steel Pulse
    Terrance Simien
    The B-52s
    The Bravery
    The Constellations
    The Devil Wears Prada
    The Dirty Heads
    The Gracious Few
    The Gufs
    The Heavy
    The Hold Steady
    The Moody Blues
    The Offspring
    The Roots
    The Wailers
    Thievery Corporation
    Tito Nieves
    Tokyo Police Club
    Umphrey’s McGee
    Uriah Heep
    Wang Chung
    Weird Al Yankovic


    a) that there has to be at least one band that would be considered interesting by most people,
    b) It is pretty difficult to see any one of these bands for the $8-15 admission price and
    c) Many times it is difficult to choose between acts playing on different stages at the same time,

    Summerfest remains not only the largest, but one of the most varied and affordable music festivals around. around.

  • Nikki


  • Alex Nolette

    While it doesn’t say it anywhere, I made this a 2010 list. So it only included the festivals that hadn’t taken place yet. I had summerfest of the list originally though. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to hit this article a little earlier and I should have about 20 festivals.

  • Jennifer

    Really looking forward to Pitchfork. So much respect for them keeping the tickets affordable ( Also ATP is just so wacky, really love that festival.

  • Jessica Skelton

    Having attended tons of summer music festivals, Outside Lands really is a great one. Can’t beat the locale and it’s pretty mellow, compared to a lot of the festivals I’ve been to. Great round-up!

    Would kill to go to pitchfork!

  • Tre Brashear


    Thank you very much for the mention of Maha! As a nonprofit, volunteer lead festival, we need all the PR we can get. Now, if you can get to Omaha from NC, we’ve got your festival tix and drinks covered. Thanks again!

    Tre Brashear
    Maha President

  • Charlie Boy

    How could you forget about Austin City Limits?

    3 DAYS, 8 STAGES, & 180 BANDS!

    It does take place in the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

    Here’s the link…

  • Jessica Skelton

    Austin City limits is a great festival, but it’s in October, so doesn’t quite make the “Summer Music Festivals” qualifications. ;)

  • RFWoodstock

    Alex…you missed Mountain Jam. This year was our sixth year and it was our best ever. Check

    We also operate a great internet radio channel called Radio Woodstock LIVE that features great live recordings from top festivals, concerts and in-studio performances.

    You can check it out at:


  • alex

    what about bonnaroo? BONNAROOO

  • genevieve

    I didn’t see Bonnaroo on that list…go list though, thanks

  • Ristau6

    Milwaukee’s Summerfest is dynamite.  11 days.

  • Zuchiniricci

    Every one needs to listen to… The Savages cats

    Great folk

  • Zuchiniricci

    Every one needs to listen to… The Savage cats
    Great folk

  • Zuchiniricci
  • MA3GO0

    Very nice list! All Good is always sooo good!
    Have you heard about Gnarnia 2012? It’s a new one but it’s already taking great strides.

  • MsFit has an interactive map and calendar of US Music Festivals

  • Ashley Kohorst

    Don’t forget about BamaJam 2012 June 14-16th in Enterprise, AL. Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Uncle Kracker, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Darryl Worley. 

  • Baer Tierkel

    A good tool to use if you wanna rent a house for all your friends at one of the festivals is – it searches all the vacation rental sites at once…

While many consider The UK and Europe to be the heavyweights of the festival circuit,...
A few months of electronica, garlic bouquets, and random acts of queerness in the Great...
Music festivals worldwide are similar. What makes a difference is the location.
Here’s to a summer full of pleasant surprises.
The big, corporate labels are dinosaur fossils. Successful are the labels that can...
Bored with your music collection? Feeling out of the musical loop? Paul Sullivan offers...
"It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."
In San Pedro I showed up two hours after start time and blended right in.
Tim Madsen gives his recommendations on death metal bands and songs to check out at 10...
Music festivals are probably more diverse in the UK than anywhere else. Here's a peek at...
I still regard missing that Arcade Fire show as one of the biggest regrets of my life.
Check the following advice to avoid getting pissed on at the Ghent Festival.