The Thinking Man's Take On: 2009 Summer Festivals


Well even though summer dragged its feet in getting here this year, we’re undisputedly in the midst of that warmest of seasons, which means one thing for music fans: Festivals.


Festivals represent almost everything that is good about live music – a wide variety of genres, open air concerts, congregations of rabid fans, exposure to unheard acts, good value for your dollar, and the chance to potentially make out with a stranger even though you haven’t showered in days. Sure, festivals have their downfalls – crowds, expensive foods, hot sun, STDs – but the pros outweigh the cons in almost every case.

From their bloody genesis in Roman times, Festivals have evolved steadily to their current state – an excuse to go hang out in a field/gorge/park for three days. Also, the only reason you’d ever want to visit Manchester, Tennessee. The packing list is simple for these festivals – clothes you don’t care about, sunscreen, and a water bottle will pretty much cover 95% of your needs. The advice is simple as well: plan your show schedule in advance, don’t worry about sleeping, and jump in the mudpit. Just go with it.

So in the vein of keeping it simple, here is a quick and dirty rundown of the big festivals (both past and present) of 2009. I left some out – sorry Bumbershoot, Tanglewood, Telluride, Bumbleride, and Lilith Fair – don’t shoot me. I also went through and stripped away all the surroundings to give you the important stats: Arbitrarily Chosen (by me) “Big Names” and “Smaller But Mighty Names”, as well as the official tagline (not true) of the Festival. I hope you find it handy.

Coachella –April 17-19th, Indio, CA

Big Names: M.I.A., Paul McCartney, The Cure, The Killers

Smaller But Mighty Names: Antony and the Johnsons, N.A.S.A., Peter Bjorn and John, Lupe Fiasco

Tagline: “An anagram for ‘Cacao Hell’. Coincidence? You decide.”

Sasquatch! – May 23-25, George, WA

Big Names: Kings of Leon, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails

Smaller But Mighty Names: Passion Pit, Blitzen Trapper, The Dodos, Of Montreal

Tagline: “The festival named after the smelly guy standing next to you during the Ben Harper set.”

Bonarroo – June 11-14, Manchester, TN

Big Names: Phish, Beastie Boys, Wilco, Snoop Dogg

Smaller But Mighty Names: Dirty Projectors, Girl Talk, Phoenix, Béla Fleck

Tagline: “We put the hip in Hippie AND Hipster.”

Glastonbury – June 24-28, Glastonbury, UK

Big Names: Bruce Springsteen, Lily Allen, Regina Spektor, Lady Gaga, Franz Ferdinand, etc. etc.

Smaller But Mighty Names: The Ting Tings, Dizzee Rascal, Bon Iver, The Streets, etc. etc.

Tagline: “This festival is massive. And full of kindly British people.”

Pitchfork – July 17-19, Chicago, IL

Big Names: Grizzly Bear, Yo La Tengo, The Flaming Lips, The Walkmen

Smaller But Mighty Names: Yeasayer, DOOM, Matt and Kim, Japandroids

Tagline: “It was better before everyone knew about it. Now it’s a 7.8.”

All Points West – July 31-August 2, Jersey City, NJ

Big Names: Jay-Z, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys

Smaller But Mighty Names: La Roux, The Cool Kids, Gogol Bordello, Flying Lotus

Tagline: “We missed the boat not calling this ‘All Points Westival.’

Underage Festival – August 2, Victoria Park, UK

Big Names: Santigold, Patrick Wolf, Mystery Jets, Ladyhawke

Smaller But Mighty Names: The XX, Metronomy, Marina and the Diamonds, Micachu and the Shapes

Tagline: “Free temporary X tattoos on your hands!”

Lollapalooza – August 7-9, Chicago, IL

Big Names: Vampire Weekend, The Killers, The Decemberists, TV On The Radio

Smaller But Mighty Names: Andrew Bird, Ra Ra Riot, Atmosphere, Heartless Bastards

Tagline: “The Original Not-A-Real-Word Festival.”

WarpedTour – All Summer, Everywhere

Big Names: Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, NOFX, Less Than Jake, Anti-Flag

Smaller But Mighty Names: Streetlight Manifesto, Cobra Starship, 3OH!3

Tagline: “Only know three chords? Come on down!”

Bestival – September 11-12, Isle of Wight, UK

Big Names: Massive Attack, Kraftwerk, Fleet Foxes, MGMT

Smaller But Mighty Names: Mika, Klaxons, Friendly Fires, Diplo

Tagline: “Get it? Because we’re the Best, and we’re a Festival.”

Monolith – September 12-13, Red Rocks Ampitheatre, CO

Big Names: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phoenix, DOOM, The Walkmen

Smaller But Mighty Names: Harlem Shakes, OK GO, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Cymbals Eat Guitars

Tagline: “This Red Rocks festival, held at Red Rocks, is an excellent venue to see music played at Red Rocks. Also, it’s held in the spectacular Red Rocks Ampitheatre. Red Rocks.”

ATP NY – September 11-13, Monticello, NY

Big Names: The Flaming Lips, Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine

Smaller But Mighty Names: Atlas Sound, Crystal Castles, Deerhunter, David Cross

Tagline: OMG. ATP. LATFH.