A summer spent sitting at home bored or working a job that eats away at your skull. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? Well, this summer, there is no reason for you to sulk about your personal state of affairs because the music festival season is coming, the golden opportunity to let loose and have your favorite bands be the soundtrack to what could be one of the best memories of your life.
Coachella might have already come around the corner and left non-attendees disappointed that they did not witness the decadence of Prince or experience Roger Waters’ performance of “The Dark Side Of The Moon.” There is no need to worry for this summer because it will be jam-packed with festivals from an alpine village in British Colombia to a park overlooking the New York skyline.
For those that finish finals early and wish to make the cross-country trek, Bonnaroo, which is held at a 700-acre farm in Tennessee, has an eclectic, star-studded lineup.It includes Kanye West and Jack Johnson in addition to veteran rock legends Pearl Jam and Metallica. Not to mention, there is a comedy stage that features an appearance by the impeccable Chris Rock, a performance that should leave many stomachs hurting from laughter.
Continuing with the bucolic setting, the newly conceived Pemberton Festival in the pristine mountains north of Vancouver might easily be the best festival setting. With high-profile acts ranging from Coldplay and Death Cab For Cutie to Jay-Z and Nine Inch Nails against the backdrop of a beautiful forested landscape, Pemberton is destined to be a hit and a mainstay in the years to come.
However, the one festival that will surely be on almost everyone’s radar is the classic Lollapalooza. Taking place in Chicago, a nice, centralized urban alternative to the rural locales, Lollapalooza should not disappoint.
It boasts a lineup that features Radiohead, Bloc Party, The Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkley and Chicago’s very own Wilco, alongside up-and-comers MGMT and Black Kids, who is deemed to be one of 2008’s breakout artists. Amidst this multitude of talent, let’s not forget to add Rage Against The Machine, who should deliver a highly energetic and anger-infused, political performance fitting in the wake of this year’s presidential election.
In its first year, Jersey City’s All Points West Festival, created by the founders of Coachella, is an excellent excuse to visit New York City. Although containing fewer major acts, critically acclaimed artists such as Cat Power and The Roots, as well as the electronica powerhouse group, Underworld, should provide a unique, yet worthwhile experience that brings lesser-known, but talented artists to the forefront.
Seeing as many people may not have the funds or time to drag themselves to the other side of the country, the inaugural Outside Lands festival in San Francisco’s picturesque Golden Gate Park is the best local festival option, closer to home and within driving distance for most. Featuring diverse acts such as Radiohead, Tom Petty, Ben Harper, Broken Social Scene and Lupe Fiasco, there is no reason not to spend a late August weekend basking under the sun and enjoying the ocean breeze on hippie hill in San Francisco.
Festivals can be full of exciting moments and fun times, but their massive nature and hordes of attendees coming from all over the country by gas-guzzling modes of transportation brings up the issue of environmental efficiency and whether festivals are just another giant carbon footprint that will only accelerate global warming.
Realizing this potential negative global impact, many festivals are taking extensive measures to lessen their environmental effect and raise awareness, going beyond the basic promotion of public transportation systems such as subways or railways. Outside Lands in particular, is leading the way with its use of recycled paper and soy-based ink for its print material, a solar powered stage and a recycling center for old cell phones.
With festivals in some of the most beautiful locations across America that offer a wide array of musical choices, there is no reason not to make a trip with friends to go see your favorite bands. As summertime approaches, don’t fall into the post-school year lethargy that creeps up on us. Make this summer unforgettable by doing yourself a favor—go to a music festival.

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