Life is about choices. But none of them will ever matter as much as deciding what to do come festival season, when every weekend is loaded with awesome opportunities to see live music. Okay maybe that’s a bit much, but if you want to have an epic summer music experience you’re gonna have to make some sacrifices. For each festival you attend, there are two or three you’re forced to pass up, and that can be a real bummer. But with a little research, you don’t have to compromise and miss any of your favorite artists. Check out this handy guide to navigating some of the next three months of festival action.
The weekend of June 1-3 presents your first big-decision of the summer. You’ve got Governors Ball in New York City, Bunbury in Cincinnati, Upstream in Seattle, and Roots Picnic in Philly. While it’s hard to pass up Gov. Ball’s ridiculously stacked lineup, you catch headliners like Jack White, Eminem, N.E.R.D., and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at numerous other festivals. Bunbury is your only shot to see Blink-182 at a festival this summer, so pop-punk diehards and nostalgic ‘90s kids who refuse to get rid of their Vans no matter how many holes they get, should consider a trip to Ohio. Upstream, meanwhile, features Swedish genre-bending electro-pop greats Little Dragon, who’ll make this Seattle shindig their one and only summer festival stop. Hip-hop heads might hightail it to Roots Picnic to check out the reunited Diplomats—this is their lone fest of the season—plus ‘90s R&B icon Brandy, who’s only playing a handful of summer dates.
There are more tough choices to be made on June 14-17. Those who opt for Mountain Jam in Hunter, New York, will miss some amazing headliners at Firefly in Dover, Delaware, including Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, and The Killers. Luckily, the Monkeys play Lollapalooza on August 2, Kendrick does Grandoozy in Denver on September 14, and The Killers rock Panorama on July 27. Mountain Jam is especially cool if you’re into the chilliest vibes of perennial festival fave Jack Johnson, who’s spending most of his summer overseas. Erykah Badu and Miguel make Smoking Grooves in Long Beach an attractive proposition. But if you decide to stay on the East Coast this weekend, rest easy knowing you can catch Badu at ESSENCE (July 5) or Afropunk (August 25) and Miguel at both of those, plus Grandoozy.