Summer is fast approaching, and that can only mean one thing: music festivals, music festivals and, wouldn’t you know it, music festivals. Of course, considering some of these festivals span days and boast acts with incredibly high pedigrees, it may be quite difficult on one’s pocketbook to attend all of them. Furthermore, with so many vying for the masses’ collective attention, it can be a challenge just to learn about all of them before they’ve already passed by. What better way for you, the reader, to decide which festivals you’ll be attending than to read about three of the major ones in one convenient location?
“Well, wherever might this information be collected by a paragon of journalistic integrity, impeccable grammar and entertaining prose?” you ask. Right here on The Badger Herald’s own Paper Radio. “Do continue!” Thank you, I will.
Billed as the largest music festival in the world, it is no surprise that the 45th anniversary of the festival is shaping up to be quite the attraction. As usual, the famed grounds in Milwaukee will play host to an impressively varied lineup ranging from the classic heavy metal of Iron Maiden, to the contemporary country of Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts, to reggae’s crown prince Ziggy Marley, to seminal hip-hop greats The Roots, to classic acts such as The Beach Boys, Joe Walsh (of Eagles fame), Neil Diamond and Chicago.
Many lesser known artists will be making appearances as well (though, to this writer’s chagrin, Iron Maiden is the only band worthy of bearing metal’s torch) such as 311, Paul Oakenfold, Fountains of Wayne, metalcore act We Came as Romans (still doing their best to snuff out metal’s aforementioned torch) and hip-hop geniuses Atmosphere.
Summerfest is an 11-day behemoth of a festival (June 27 to July 1 and July 3 to 8), and the full pass costs an astonishingly low $45 to see up to 66 acts (though the more renowned artists [Iron Maiden, Zac Brown Band, Aerosmith, Tiësto, etc.] cost more and require individual tickets). For fans of a wide variety of music (or even families who want to watch Neil Diamond while their children enjoy the facemelting that is Iron Maiden), Summerfest 2012 seems like the place to be.
Nearly as well-known, and with a nearly equally stacked lineup, Chicago’s Lollapalooza looks poised to draw perhaps an even larger crowd than Summerfest 2012 (a younger crowd is assured). Apart from some major headliners, Lollapalooza showcases a smaller, more “underground” sect of artists. The major headliners, however, are massive: On the first of the festival’s three days (August 3), garage/indie rockers The Black Keys, gods of heavy metal Black Sabbath, professional wubber Bassnectar and indie all-stars The Shins will be driving crowds wild. The second day brings the tidings of The Red Hot Chili Peppers (sans mastermind John Frusciante), underground R&B darling The Weeknd, who will be crooning girls into ecstasy, Odd Future’s silky-smooth Frank Ocean and indie rock stalwarts Bloc Party (also of note, critics folk wet-dream The Tallest Man on Earth performs on this day). The third and final day brings back post-hardcore legends At the Drive-In, who will be playing for some of their first crowds in 11 years, the strange yet charismatic frontman of The White Stripes, Jack White, lyrical genius Florence + The Machine, trippy, trance-y Sigur Rós and funnyman-turned-rapper Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino.
Hopefully, you just took a mental breath after the brain-full that was that star-studded lineup. The price of admission, while not your soul as one might expect, is a hefty $285 ($95 per day since all the packaged tickets are sold out). Still, with a bill that incredible, perhaps one won’t cringe letting that much money go in one shot.
If these two festivals aren’t extreme enough for your insatiable metal/hardcore thirst, Vans Warped Tour or Summer Slaughter should hopefully be enough to sate your palate. They both may only be one day (per city), but each more than makes up for its short duration (relatively speaking) in intensity.
Warped Tour makes its local stop in Milwaukee on August 1 on the very grounds that Summerfest will have trampled just a month before. Warped Tour has been edging toward heavier acts in the past years, but it still retains the punk/ska roots that put the festival on the map. This year’s highlights include punk rockers Rise Against and pop-punk familiars New Found Glory. Pop fossil Yellowcard will be there to please the softer crowd, while facemelting technical death metal acts After the Burial and Born of Osiris, in addition to the spastic grindcore of iwrestledabearonce and Christian “gorship” (yes, that’s a portmanteau of gore and “worship”) slingers Impending Doom hold up the heavy end of the bill.
Summer Slaughter opens up Hell at The Rave in Milwaukee on August 17 with the help of perhaps the greatest lineup in recent metal history. Headliners Cannibal Corpse and Between the Buried and Me both bring what the heavy listeners so crave, yet they subscribe to completely different styles of metal: straight death metal and progressive, respectively. The rest of the lineup continues the progressive theme with Sumerian Records’ cornerstone The Faceless (so named for their facemelting skills, perhaps), djent pioneers Periphery and groovier-than-thou Veil of Maya (coincidentally all members of Sumerian’s roster). The bill is rounded out by more straight death metal with awesomely-named Job for a Cowboy, interestingly-named Goatwhore, old school death metal professors Exhumed and female-fronted Cerebral Bore. Bring your salt, holy water and ’67 Impalas — the Rave could get messy.
Summer 2012 is shaping up to be excellent, no matter what type of music one enjoys. Tickets for these festivals are selling like hotcakes, particularly in Lollapalooza’s case; those who intend to go should act fast. These certainly aren’t the only festivals this summer; other great festivals — the probably pretentious Pitchfork, Slayer-fronted Mayhem, Countryfest, Country Jam and more — are ripe for the picking. Go forth and destroy your ears!
Regen McCracken is a junior at UW-Madison who intends to major in journalism. He has a love for video games, metal, jazz and all things that make one think. He also writes and performs his own music while not writing these ever-interesting columns or studying himself to sleep.