Summer has always been a time for hot dogs, bloated Hollywood blockbusters and ridiculous ticket gouging at every show. In this tough economic time, it’s best to get the most for your money when heading out on the festival circuit.
In the interest of survival, Voice has put together an analysis of the best deals of the summer. With this guide in hand, you can actually afford that $8 bottle of water and not have the pressing urge to light everything you see on fire.
What is it: Bonnaroo is the closest you are going to get to a Woodstock vibe in the summer concert season. It’s muddy, sweaty, gross and has people with guitars. Also, there are some great performers.
When: June 10-13
Where: Manchester, Tenn.
Acts: Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon and Jay-Z headline. Recently disposed late night host Conan O’Brien will perform standup. Kid Cudi, Aziz Ansari (hopefully as Raaaaandy) and LCD Soundsystem are some of the many slightly more underground acts.
Tickets: Right now, tickets are $235 and theywill be going up to $250 soon. That’s not counting an additional $150 to park an RV or more than $4,000 to rent a trailer for the weekend.
The Verdict: There are many great acts, but you can probably see them for much cheaper elsewhere.
What is it: Originally, it was a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction, but now it mostly serves as a beacon for radio-friendly alternative rock and hip-hop.
When: August 6-8
Where: Grant Park, Chicago
Acts: Organizers had kept most of the performers under wraps, with a giant game of hangman on their Web site to guess who’s performing. However, the headliners are Green Day, Lady Gaga, The Strokes, Soundgarden, The Arcade Fire and Phoenix. Organizers released the full list of performers on Tuesday.
Tickets: Advanced three-day passes are going for $190, but regular tickets will soon go on sale for $215.
The Verdict: It’s pretty hard to turn down a lineup that looks this good. There’s something for everyone, and The Strokes are going to be there. You remember them, right?
Pitchfork Music Festival
What is it: Depending on how you look at it, pitchfork.com is either the most pretentious or most powerful music reviewing Web site constantly making or breaking new artists. Imagine that as a concert.
When: July 16-18
Where: Union Park, Chicago
Acts: The festival is mostly a tour of the hottest hit-makers on the indie scene. Broken Social Scene, Panda Bear, LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse and St. Vincent are headlining. Also headlining is Pavement, the reunited greatest-band-of-the-’90s.
Tickets: A three-day pass is $90 and a one-day pass is $40.
The Verdict: For anyone interested in underground music, it’s a steal. I’ll be there, but I would have paid $90 just to stand in Stephen Malkmus’ shadow.
What is it: Summer Camp is a collection of the who’s who of the post-Grateful Dead world. Expect bluegrass, folk, jam and prog to be the norm.
When: May 28-30
Where: Chilicothe, Ill.
Acts: Yonder Mountain String Band, The Avett Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGhee and moe. headline this year’s festival. Also appearing is Rev. Peytons Big Damn Band, which could make you rethink your long-held prejudice against country music.
Tickets: The three-day pass is $150, and spots for an RV start at $60.
The Verdict: This isn’t Summer Camp’s best year ever, but for jam band fanatics, this is still a go-to festival. It might only be for the diehards, but most of the bands are worth more than a listen.