Music festivals are to summer what rock is to roll. If you haven't had a chance to beat the heat with your favorite legend, it's time to face the music. Rolling Stone executive editor Jason Fine shares the lowdown on late-summer and fall festivals.
"While most of the big festivals happen in remote or rural locations, from the Mojave Desert (Coachella) to rural Tennessee (Bonnaroo), the once-traveling Lollapalooza is now grounded in Grant Park in downtown Chicago, close to plenty of great hotels and restaurants," Fine says. Hot acts at the festival, which runs today through Sunday, include Kanye West, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails and hometown heroes Wilco. lollapalooza.com
Newport Folk Festival Newport, R.I.
In addition to its reputation for launching careers of major musicians — not to mention Bob Dylan's infamous first go with an electric guitar — this festival, which starts today and wraps up Sunday, also "rediscovers" some big names. "Two of rock's greatest legends — Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Levon Helm of The Band — are back, and both appear at this historic harbor-front festival," Fine says. Jimmy Buffett and the Black Crowes also will be on stage this year. festivalnetwork.com/events/details.php?ID=49
Austin City Limits Austin
It's the after-hours parties on Sixth Street that make this hot festival cool, Fine says. "Unlike Austin's other great music festival, South by Southwest, this one's not about the music industry — it's about music fans. It's a great place to check out the state-of-the-art in rock 'n' roll in one place." Everyone from Mars Volta and David Byrne to the Foo Fighters and The Raconteurs will be snagging the spotlight. Dates: Sept. 26-28. aclfestival.com
All Points West Jersey City
The musical masterminds behind Coachella are setting up shop on the East Coast. "All Points West features this season's top festival headliners, Radiohead and Jack Johnson, at waterfront Liberty State Park," Fine says. Also expect to see Kings of Leon and Ben Harper while overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Dates: Aug. 8-10. apwfestival.com
All Tomorrow's Parties Monticello, N.Y.
"The weirdest, most experimental festival of the summer takes place at the old Borscht Belt resort, Kutshers, with a lineup heavy on indie-rock and post-punk heroes," Fine says. Thurston Moore, Dinosaur Jr., Built to Spill, Bob Mould and Brit guitar band My Bloody Valentine are all scheduled to perform. Dates: Sept. 19-21. atpfestival.com/events/atp-ny
Virgin Festival Baltimore
Forget hot dogs and hamburgers, and eat like the natives do at this festival. Chesapeake crabs and local oysters are crowd pleasers, but don't spend too much time in concession-stand lines, Fine says. Virgin Fest has "the most diverse lineup of the summer, featuring everyone from Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails to Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry." Dates: Aug. 9-10. virginfestival.com
Outside Lands San Francisco
If an awesome lineup and a splendid setting top your list for festival utopia, Fine suggests you head to San Francisco. "Taking place in Golden Gate Park, where the Summer of Love was launched 41 years ago, this festival has a lineup that includes Beck, Tom Petty, Ben Harper, Steve Winwood, Devendra Banhart, plus tents for poetry, comedy and even yoga." Dates: Aug. 22-24. sfoutsidelands.com
Monolith Festival Morrison, Colo.
"There's no more beautiful American venue than Red Rocks, high in the Rocky Mountains, so this is a great summer destination to see rising stars Vampire Weekend, Foals, TV on the Radio and Band of Horses," Fine says. Be sure to hike through Red Rocks Park and explore Dinosaur Ridge while you're in town. Dates: Sept. 13-14. monolithfestival.com
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass San Francisco
Free music fests are virtually unheard of — but not in San Francisco. Fine calls this weekend event "one of the greatest under-the-radar American festivals, filled with artists from across a wide swath of American traditions, from blues and bluegrass to gospel, country, folk and R&B." Robert Earl Keen, Bonnie Prince Billy and dynamic duo Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will be belting it out. Dates: Oct. 3-5. strictlybluegrass.com
Voodoo Experience New Orleans
"As the weather starts to cool off in the Crescent City, the Voodoo festival mixes local artists and superstar acts for three days of music under the giant oak trees in City Park," Fine says. This year R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie, Blind Boys of Alabama, Erykah Badu and New Orleans native Lil Wayne are just some of the performers on hand in the Big Easy. Don't leave town without tasting the beignets and gumbo. Dates: Oct. 24-26. thetenthritual.com