Another year, another slew of major music festivals spread across the country. With so many options, and with travel and ticket costs so great, you can’t possibly attend them all. So which one(s) will you choose? Here’s a handy guide to most of the American music festivals on tap for the remainder of 2019, with details on what to expect at each of them.
Where: San Francisco, CA
When: August 9-11
Why you should go: San Francisco’s main music event is one that’s golden. Of all festivals, Outside Lands often features the most interesting roster of artists that stands apart from other fests, giving everyone just what they’re looking for, from indie fans looking for a new favorite unknown group and electronic die hards more than enough DJs to dance to. And with its picturesque San Fran setting, it’s an experience unlike any other major city festival.
Headliners: Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, and Twenty One Pilot, but some of the more interesting draws include Anderson .Paak, Better Oblivion Community Center, Flume, and Hozier
Other acts to check out: For an especially hot set, be sure to check out CupCaKke, a Chicago rapper whose reclaiming the raunch in rap with humorous and explicit tracks from a queer, female perspective; and then to chill out a bit, MorMor is an indie-pop multi-instrumentalist from Toronto who makes songs that are sure to soothe as if they’re atmospheric, poppy lullabies.
2. Riot Fest
Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: September 13-15
Why you should go: If you’re a fan of emo, alt rock, and pop punk music, Riot Fest is the festival to go to. The event continues to steadily grow from its humble origins as a series of showcases in venues around Chicago to a major event in Douglas Park, meaning its lineup keeps getting more exciting to include the best bands just on the cutting edge of breaking out. Where most fests stray away from underground emo groups, Riot Fest revels in their tunes.
Headliners: Blink-182, Slayer, Bikini Kill, The Raconteurs, and Rise Against, and if that wasn’t great enough, other big names include Patti Smith, Ween, Violent Femmes, and many, many, more
Other acts to check out: Ultra Q, the Oakland band formerly known as Mt. Eddy and fronted by Billie Joe Armstrong’s son Jakob Danger Armstrong, is a young, ecstatic group that makes weird, new wave-ish rock you might not expect from Gen-Zers, but they do, and do it so, so well. You also best see White Reaper whose rip roaring garage punk is as self-indulgent as ’80s arena rock and all in good fun to get you dancing.
The LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL 2019 lineup is here 💚⚡️ Sept 20 – 22, Downtown Las Vegas. Tickets on sale Thursday, 4/25 at 10am PT. pic.twitter.com/o9E5sBhBZb
— LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (@lifeisbeautiful) April 23, 2019
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: September 20-22
Why you should go: Events are going on nonstop in Vegas, but Life Is Beautiful is the ultimate weekend that encapsulates exactly what’s so great about the over-the-top epicenter. The festival takes over the Downtown area, transforming the streets into venues for major musicians, while also hosting artistic and culinary events. It’s like getting a taste of all of Vegas’ glitz concentrated into three packed days… all while seeing your favorite pop acts.
Headliners: Chance the Rapper, The Black Keys, Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, as well as Zedd, Louis the Child, and Portugal. The Man
Other acts to check out: LA’s MUNA makes the kind of sensual synth-pop you imagine crying to in the club — and they already got the co-sign from Harry Styles by opening for him on the first leg of his stadium tour, so these ladies are more than worth checking out. Then, if you’re in need of a good mosh pit, The Regrettes make feminist punk that’s unabashedly girlish and fun, injected with nostalgic, witty ’50s girl group vibes.
The 2019 Lineup by Day is here! See which days your favorite performers will hit the beach and get ready to catch the #SeaHearNow wave this September. https://t.co/MpeNLdnyPG pic.twitter.com/NCgh2SZCiK
— Sea.Hear.Now Festival (@seahearnow) June 27, 2019
Where: Asbury Park, NJ
When: September 21-22
Why you should go: Set right on the Asbury Park Waterfront, this beachy fest is a celebration of both art and the ocean. In only its second year, the exciting new event not only touts a unique lineup of rock artists, but features surfing sessions with pro-surfers across the two days and highlights initiatives on sea sustainability. So it’s safe to say if you’re a beach bum and can’t be bothered to spend your summer weekends anywhere but the sand and boardwalk, this is the fest for you.
Headliners: Dave Matthews Band and The Lumineers, plus draws like Rainbow Kitten Surprise and a handful of legacy acts including Joan Jett and the B-52s
Other acts to check out: If you have a penchant for alt-rock, LA’s The Wrecks make contemporary, radio-friendly alternative that’s jacked up with a hint of noise to turn their gigs into lively pop-punk sets. And to tone things down a bit, British songwriter Jade Bird alternates between power ballads and outlaw-ish rock fueled by her twangy, vigorous voice.
Tell your #ACLFest family, the 2019 Lineup is here! Check out who’s taking-over Zilker Park this October and grab your 3-Day Tickets TODAY at 12pm CT. https://t.co/AZls90wOA3 pic.twitter.com/K6navaa3Pu
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) April 30, 2019
Where: Austin, TX
When: October 4-6 and October 11-13
Why you should go: Music never stops in Austin — even well into the fall when festivals around the country die down. In fact, in autumn they hold the largest festival of the season. A destination for headlining classics, as well as the best of the best across emerging talent in all genres, the massive festival running two consecutive weekends is representative of what the Austin scene and its love for music has to offer year after year.
Headliners: Guns N’ Roses, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, The Cure, Cardi B, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, and Robyn, with additional highlights like Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, and Kali Uchis
Other acts to check out: Atlanta singer-songwriter Faye Webster‘s folk is somewhat woozy, informed by her varied backgrounds dipping into an alt-country Southern upbringing and hometown hip-hop scene, altogether creating something romantically Americana for 2019. Megan Thee Stallion is another killer Southern artist — a rapper rising triumphantly in the Houston scene who spews sexually charged raps in a quick style drawn from the cypher scene she came up in.
Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: October 19-20
Why you should go: One of the most unconventional first-year festivals out there, Metarama is just as much of a live gaming experience as it is a music fest. If you’re a total gamer, the event is like the best of both worlds, with its video game exhibitions and major esports tournaments… that just so happen to be going on while popular names in music play just off the Strip.
Headliners: Marshmello, Logic, Snoop Dogg, Ninja
Other acts to check out: Ducky is an LA-based DJ who produces what could essentially be gaming music — fast-paced dubstep that’s full of wonderment — and would be the perfect, rave-like soundtrack for this original fest.
Where: New Orleans, LA
When: October 25-27
Why you should go: Spending Halloween in the traditionally festive and always-down-to-party New Orleans is unlike anywhere else — but Halloween at a large-scale music festival in NOLA? That is an otherworldly amount of energy to enjoy on the spooky holiday. With so many electrifying acts invited down to the bayou and most attendees arriving in costume, Voodoo Fest is definitely one of the remaining music festivals with the most personality, paying homage to the art, spirituality, and culture of its Southern home.
Headliners: Guns N’ Roses, Post Malone, and Beck, as well as draws like The National, Interpol, and Brandi Carlile
Other acts to check out: Njomza is a rising R&B singer bringing soul closer to pop and was championed by the late Mac Miller, who signed her to his label several years ago, so be sure to watch her set to discover what the rapper saw in her. Voodoo itself also does a solid job seeing the value in new acts, like Hello Yello, an Oakland-based group expanding what rock can sound like, combining grunge and noise with alt-R&B sounds to develop a new kind of Cali vibe.