The best music festivals around the country

Katy Coduto

Because the snow has yet to stop falling in northeast Ohio, now is the perfect time to daydream about warmer weather and everything that accompanies it. For a lot of people, starting in April, warm weather means beaches, baseball and barbeques. However, the other thing that happens with the warmer weather is the beginning of music festival season. Is there anything better than sweating through two or three days of nonstop music surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know?

Answer: no.

Of course, most festivals are far away from Kent, so if you’re going to go to a festival, you have to pick and choose wisely, and take into consideration everything from the price of attendance to where you’ll stay and how you’ll get there. Starting in the northeast and working your way to the west, here are some of the best festivals you can attend in the warmer months of 2014.

A. Governors Ball Music Festival

Location: Randall’s Island, New York City

Dates: June 6 – 8

Cost: 3-day general admission is $230, with a $20 fee

Why: Governors Ball has quietly been making a name for itself in NYC, constantly growing in the past four years and attracting bigger and bigger artists with each lineup. This year includes Outkast, Jack White and Vampire Weekend as headliners, plus Interpol, J. Cole and Chance the Rapper. Plus, you get to experience the festival in NYC, where there are endless after parties and excellent food choices in and around the festival.

B. Pitchfork Music Festival

Location: Union Park, Chicago

Dates: July 18 – 20

Cost: 3-day Pass is $130

Why: Curated by music site, the Pitchfork Music Festival pulls in some of the biggest names in indie rock and rap over the course of three days in Chicago. The festival is one of the most affordable and closest to Kent, which definitely gives it an edge, and you’re guaranteed to see bands and sets that you won’t see anywhere else. Tickets are already on sale, with a full lineup announcement coming soon.

C. Lollapalooza

Location: Grant Park, Chicago

Dates: August 1 – 3

Cost: 2013 single-day passes were $95/each; 2014 prices to be announced in March

Why: While Lollapalooza has yet to announce a lineup, the storied festival always pulls in major headliners, and will likely also feature Outkast (as the group is doing over 40 festivals this summer). Lollapalooza is a festival that you can buy your tickets to well ahead of knowing the lineup and still be assured that you like someone who’s performing. To give you an idea: Lolla’s Brazilian sister festival has Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails and Muse as headliners in April.

D. Bonnaroo Music Festival

Location: Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tennessee

Dates: June 12 – 15

Cost: General Admission at current price level: $234.50, plus $28.60 service fee

Why: Bonnaroo is also known for its ability to pull in insane headliners for the four-day event. That’s another plus for Bonnaroo: It exceeds most festival lengths by being four days and adding more artists than most others can. It also helps that Bonnaroo is all about the whole event, which includes camping around the festival (which, while others let you know you can, Bonnaroo has made it part of the overall experience). Bonnaroo’s festival lineup will be announced Feb. 19, and that lineup is going to be a big deal.

E. Sasquatch!

Location: Gorge Amphitheatre, Quincy, Washington

Dates: May 23 – 25 and July 4 – 6

Cost: Both weekends total cost $550; cost for one weekend is $325

Why: If you really want to get away (almost as far west as you can go), Sasquatch is a great place to start. Not only is the festival held in one of the best outdoor venues in the country at the Gorge Amphitheatre, but Sasquatch has an incredible lineup. The May headliners include OutKast, the National, Queens of the Stone Age and M.I.A., while the July headliners include Soundgarden, New Order and Frank Ocean. If you can afford it (especially both weekends), Sasquatch is going to be the place to be.

F. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Location: Empire Polo Club, Indio, California

Dates: April 11 – 13 and 18 – 20

Cost: General Admission for whole weekend: $375 (sold out on Coachella’s website)

Why: The real question with Coachella is “why not?” Tucked away in Indio, festival attendees get to hang out in Cali while seeing some of the very best artists perform in the course of three days at a price that, with all things considered, is pretty reasonable. $375 gets you OutKast, Arcade Fire, Muse, Lorde, the Replacements, Skrillex, Pharrell – just to name a few. The major drawback, of course, is the distance from Kent to Indio, and finding a place to stay can become expensive quickly.

Of course, there are plenty of other festivals worth looking into, depending on your music taste and availability. Shaky Knees Festival and CounterPoint are both Atlanta-based festivals, with Shaky Knees leaning more toward indie rock and Counterpoint featuring OutKast’s first Atlanta appearance in years. Big Guava Festival debuts in Florida this May, with appearances from OutKast and Vampire Weekend. If you’re more into hopping around a major city, you can always go to South by Southwest in Austin in March, or travel overseas in July to go to London’s Wireless Festival. And of course, anyone interested in EDM has to investigate one of the Electric Daisy options. The electronic festival takes place in New York City in May and in Las Vegas in July.

Contact Katy Coduto at [email protected]