As we grumpily walk down Pedestrian Walkway every morning in the bleak winter months, small rays of better days are starting to appear. Festival lineups are beginning to be announced. Even better, spring and summer festival lineups. Imagine warm weather, Chacos without socks, and artists playing live within feet of each other for entire weekends. If you have never been to a festival like any of these, go. If you have, go again. Here is an overview of what to daydream about within the coming months.
Big Ears: Knoxville, TN; March 28-30
Last seen in 2010, Big Ears Festival is revived this year for “another weekend of visionary music, exploratory art, and southern hospitality," according to their website. The thing about Big Ears is that while the lineup holds incredibly notable and important musicians, it is a festival for those who are willing to explore not only artists they don't already know, but possibly an entirely different take on music that may rarely involve lyrics. Headliner Steve Reich will conduct different ensembles as they recreate his compositions. Also, co-founder of the Velvet Underground, guitarist John Cale, will play a set. Just remember that while the rockers will be far from what one would expect, Big Ears is the rare opportunity to expand those musical horizons.
Rhythm N' Blooms: Knoxville, TN; April 4-6
Knoxville's own Americana festival is growing this year with new lineup announcements almost weekly. Rhythm N' Blooms will host a solid selection of Tennessee based artists such as Nashville's John and Jacob and The Wild Feathers. Even better, Knoxville bands are taking the spotlight with the Black Lillies closing the festival Sunday in the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. Even while more acts are regularly being announced, the headliners (The Black Lillies, Brett Dennen, and Shovels & Rope) will likely remain consistent with smaller additions as the April 4-6 festival approaches. While the already-announced lineup is not packed with the superstars other festivals in the region draw in, Rhythm N' Blooms is a chance to discover new music in some of the city’s best venues.
Coachella: Indio, CA; April 11-13 & April 18-20
We all know Outkast is igniting their reunion tour by headlining Coachella's Friday nights in California this summer, but the festival holds other unexpected big names. First is Lana Del Rey, who played a rare U.S. show last year at Lollapalooza. Now, she is gracing another festival stage which will hopefully lead to a greater presence in the country. Lorde will also perform much to the surprise of skeptics who were unsure if the goth pop star would brave the summer heat. Muse and Arcade Fire are the other two headliners for Saturday and Sunday nights, which is to be expected due to their supernatural fame. Indie rock sisters Haim will play, as expected, following their highly successful debut album. Coachella also presents a fair amount of rap, spanning from Kid Cudi to A$AP Ferg. However, tickets are already sold out, so your best bet is to pay twice as much on Craigslist.
Wakarusa: Ozark, Arkansas; June 5-8
Wakarusa is kind of like Bonnaroo’s distant trippier, hippier cousin. Here, it is less about the specific artist and more about the vibe of the weekend as a whole. Generally, the lineup is largely jam bands with a psychedelic rock or electronic feel. This year is no different, with STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee laying the groundwork as they have since 2010. Wakarusa has also increased its number of folk acts in recent years as the genre has grown in popularity. The real head scratcher is who the No. 1 spot belongs to. With Bassnectar as the second and the Flaming Lips as the third headliner, someone truly well-known is expected.
Yes, this is technically a tour. But for each city it visits, Warped Tour is like a traveling festival for the day it is stationed. The biggest surprise from the tour this year though is not its lineup, but where it is going. For the first time, Warped Tour will ride into Nashville at the Tennessee State Fair Grounds on July 29. Yes, hardcore fans, there is a cheaper option than venturing out of state. Yet, do not expect any real surprises in the lineup. As ever, pop punk and hardcore will unite to rage and thrash across the country. Mayday Parade, The Devil Wears Prada and Cute Is What We Aim For are among the more popular, recent announcements, and more bands will confirm their spots up until the tour hits its last stop.
Bonnaroo: Manchester, TN; June 12-15
Behind Coachella, Bonnaroo’s lineup announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the pre-festival season. Right now, all we get are pictures on Instagram and hints over Bonnaroo’s radio station to predict who will battle the heat in Manchester. As anticipation grows, so do the rumors. The first two clues as of Jan. 13 set Washed Out and Break Science to play. With OutKast having promised 40 international dates at festivals this summer, they seem a likely candidate. Yet, Coachella and Bonnaroo rarely share headliners, placing OutKast possibly at Louisville’s Forecastle Festival instead. Right now, Festival Owl’s Twitter has confirmed the Flaming Lips, the Avett Brothers and Bassnectar. Dave Mathews Band also has the final night of Bonnaroo open. After their successful 2013 albums, both Vampire Weekend and the Arctic Monkeys seem likely, but we all just have to wait for the official announcement sometime next month.