It’s hard to believe it, but 2017 is already halfway over. And while we’ve already been able to attend and cover some great festivals this year, there are still so many to go. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve listed the ones that we think are the cream of the festival crop. Here are our top 5 music festivals for the rest of the year.
5. HARD Summer | August 5 – August 6 | Glen Helen Amphitheater & Regional Park in Southern California, Fontana, CA
If there’s one thing Gary Richards, aka Destructo, knows how to do, it’s throwing a hell of a party, whether it’s at sea, or on land. This year marks HARD Events‘ 10 year anniversary. To celebrate, The HARDFather has put together a massive lineup full of extremely rare performances that you are really not going to want to miss. With many festival veterans complaining at the lack of variety that talent buyers are bringing to the table, HARD SUMMER offers a change of pace from the standard acts of this year.
The headliners tier is chock full of legends; Snoop Dogg (performing Doggystyle), Justice, Bassnectar, and Dogblood (Skrillex & Boys Noize) are just a few. The undercard is nothing to brush off either. There’s no where else this year that you will be able to see Mobb Deep, Tchami, Sketpa, and Baauer, all in the same place. If you’re a fan of hip-hop and electronic music, HARD Summer’s 10th anniversary should be on your list of things to do this summer.
Our Top 3 Performers to Catch:
2. Snoop Dogg
4. Suwannee Hulaween | October 27 – October 29 | Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, FL
Suwannee Hulaween is not especially known for bringing in the big EDM acts, but that is something to disregard as soon as you experience the beauty that is the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. The venue is almost completely enveloped by trees, with drooping Spanish moss that just adds a living essence to everything around you. It’s pretty damn trippy.
The campground is also in the forest, of course. No need to worry about waking up in dripping sweat in your oven of a tent–there’s shade almost everywhere you go. Also, there’s a calming and refreshing river that runs through the grounds. If you time it right, you can get your camping spot right next to the river.
Similarly to Electric Forest, Suwannee Hulaween invites heaps of local artists to create live art segments that are scattered all around their huge forest. The art plays as big a role as the music does here. For many of us, this could be an awesome way to branch out into new scenes.
As I mentioned before, don’t expect a lineup full of electronic acts. However, if you’re not new to the festival lifestyle, chances are you’ve seen your favorite DJs multiple times already. It’s always good to switch it up once in awhile. Don’t worry, though, Hula always makes sure to have some very solid electronic choices. In fact, RL Grime is speculated to be one of the big name artists to be announced soon (check out his Novazine, where Live Oak is listed among many other cities).
Hulaween is a little bit late to the game with their lineup this year, but last we heard they were “tying the last couple knots” together.
3. Dirtybird Campout | October 6 – October 8 | Silverado, CA
If you’re itching for somewhere to let your weird side be free, then look no further, the Dirtybird family has a place for you. What started as a ragtag group of friends throwing parties in Golden Gate Park, has turned into their own, self-curated, summer camp themed music festival in Southern California. Dirtybird Campout is the festival you didn’t know you needed.
The Campout does the best in job in putting community first. Half the time you’re there you may even forget you’re at a music festival! One of the first things that happens upon entering the campgrounds is being randomly handed a team color (and no, you can’t choose with your friends). You then receive your team bandana, and have the ability to participate in all kinds of summer camp activities that earn your team points. The winners receive eternal glory at the end of the weekend. It’s the perfect place to revisit all your fond childhood memories of playing games like dodgeball, archery, kickball, capture the flag, sack relays, water balloon tosses, and much more.
If you know anything about Dirtybird, you know that everyone, including the head of the label, Claude VonStroke, is involved every step of the way. Don’t be surprised if you run into him, or any of the other Dirtybird players wandering the campgrounds, or playing games with all the other attendees.
Oh, and uh, yeah. By the way, if at any point you feel compelled to step away from the games for a minute, you can go dance your ass off to some of the hardest hitting, weirdest, foot-moving house music that you’ll ever hear. Dirtybird is the hallmark American label for tech-house, and you bet they throw it down at their own festival. There’s only one main-stage, so don’t fret about missing someone you were really hoping to see.
There’s no lineup announced yet, so hang tight. It is a Dirtybird event, however, so expect nearly all the all-stars to show up with some special guests, very similar to last year. Check out this awesome video of how they got started while you wait.
2. Shambhala Music Festival | August 11 – August 14 | Salmo River Ranch, BC, Canada
One of the best things about camping festivals is the escape from reality. No festival accomplishes this transportation better than Shambhala. Just across the border in the mountains of British Columbia, lies Salmo River Ranch. Whether you’re flying or driving, the way to Shambhala is an absolute trek. It all becomes worth it though, once you brave the seven-kilometer dirt road that brings you straight to a village of joy and anticipation.
One of the many things that makes Shambhala great is the fact that it is privately owned. The same family that owns the 500-acre venue, runs the entire festival. Art installations and other structures remain once the attendees depart from the campgrounds, so in some mystical way, Shambhala never really ends. Also, due to this, and unlike many other festivals, there is no central talent buyer. Each stage is treated as its own business. In a unique process, the stage teams are given a slice of the whole Shambhala budget, from there, they take on the responsibility of choosing their creative direction, building their stage, and curating the talent. The result is almost always extremely diverse and tasteful lineups, along with an exclusive and personal experience to deliver to the fans.
Shambhala also takes pride in being one of the most progressive festivals out there. They offer there one of a kind ANKORS program, which has been around for over a decade. It’s no secret that drug use is prevalent among any music festival. Some festivals put all their effort into enforcement, hoping to stop the substances at the gates, but come on, now. How effective can that really be?
Shambhala has a no-drug policy, of course, but still understands that people will find a way to do what they want. Through ANKORS, attendees can test their substances for harmful adulterants, to make sure they stay safe. If any harmful results are found, it is posted as a warning for other festival goers. There’s also the Sanctuary, where you can guide your friend or yourself to if you’re having a bad trip or just an overall bad time, for any reason. Someone will be there 24 hours a day to lend a helping hand.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that Shambhala has one of the most stacked electronic lineups out there this year. Their lineup alone is reason to make the trip up north.
Our Top 3 Performers to Catch:
2. Justin Martin
3. sumthin sumthin
1. Electric Forest (either weekend) | June 22 – June 25 & June 29 – July 2 | Rothbury, Michigan
What had started in 2008 as a smaller, hippie jam-band festival in Rothbury, Michigan, has since transformed into one of the most sought after festival experiences in the United States. After selling out all tickets before even announcing a lineup in 2016, Electric Forest made the bold decision to extend their festival to two whole weekends in 2017. With a capacity of around 40,000 attendees, it’s safe to say that Insomniac and Madison House Presents have successfully nudged their festival into the mainstream spotlight.
Electric Forest is my top choice for festivals this year because they continue to prove to be the most well-rounded experience there is to offer. From the stunning production that takes place around all SEVEN stages, to the vast variety of quality music, to the openness and receptiveness of the Forest Family, to the tiniest bits of artistic detail to find in Sherwood, to finding your new best friends in campgrounds, Electric Forest does it right.
By the way, this doesn’t even cover the variety of programs and events that their one-of-a-kind Plug-In project brings to the table. Electricology, where you can earn merch and other goodies by simply collecting trash from around the campsites. There’s Her Forest, which offers a “collaboration between Forest Family who identify as women.” Also, the Electric Forces Build Crew, which allows you to work with and among military veterans to create the breathtaking production that is behind this massive festival. To be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface with what Forest is doing behind the scenes. Check out the whole Plug-In site here.
Some people are choosing to skip Forest this year because of the “too mainstream” argument, which I understand. With more attention comes the attraction of folks that may have been previously unwanted. Perhaps what would have been a “safe-haven” away from the crowds of Coachella and the like, could now be at risk. I disagree with this entirely. What I see in the separation into two weekends are less packed crowds, shorter lines, and a larger number of souls that can be exposed to the love and unity that takes place at JJ Ranch.
Our Top 3 Performers to Catch Weekend 1:
1. Space Jesus b2b Liquid Stranger
Our Top 3 Performers to Catch Weekend 2:
1. RL Grime
See the full Electric Forest 2017 lineups here.