DUBAI: After two-years of COVID-related cancellations, live music is back with a bang. Here’s where music lovers should travel to over the summer.
Where: Somerset, England
When: June 22-26
What: Fifty-two years on from its debut (although it didn’t become an annual event until the 1980s), Glastonbury remains one of the biggest draws on the international festival circuit — not just for the 200,000 or so people who attend, but for the artists themselves. The festival retains a strong link to its hippie-era roots and attendees can often be as entertaining as the onstage activities. This year is a prime example of the wide net the festival casts, covering a dizzying array of genres and generations, with over 3,000 performers across 12 stages. Paul McCartney will become the festival’s oldest-ever headliner, while Billie Eilish will become its youngest. Kendrick Lamar is the other main-stage headline act.
Other must-see acts: Sam Fender, Lorde, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Haim, Diana Ross, Elbow, Wolf Alice, Herbie Hancock, Megan Thee Stallion, St. Vincent, Idles, Foals, Pet Shop Boys.
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
When: June 25 – July 2
What: Scandinavia’s largest festival has many similarities to Glastonbury; it debuted just a year later and shares many of the same ideological roots, promising “music, arts, activism, camps and freedom” — a remit it takes seriously. It’s also a multi-genre event with artists that appeal to a huge age range with an emphasis on indie/alternative acts but happily includes mainstream pop artists too. It does offer a more diverse international lineup than many US or UK festivals too, like Brazilian pop icon Anitta this year. Even though it officially runs for eight days, the big names perform over the last four nights. Headliners are US rap star Post Malone; UK pop diva Dua Lipa; former Odd Future luminary Tyler, The Creator; and arguably the most influential rock band of the 2000s, The Strokes.
Other must-see acts: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Megan Thee Stallion, St. Vincent, Haim, Biffy Clyro, Arlo Parks, Chvrches.
Mad Cool Festival
When: July 6-10
What: This sprawling five-day festival in the Spanish capital pretty much guarantees a killer lineup every year. It doesn’t often book pure mainstream-pop acts, instead focusing on rock and electronica, with a heavy emphasis on alternative acts that perform long into the night. Headliners this year are Metallica, Imagine Dragons, Muse, Kings of Leon, and Jack White and there are some old-school throwbacks to whet the appetite of older indie fans, including the seminal Boston band Pixies. Away from the main stage, there’s “The Loop” featuring some of the best electronic music producers and hip-hop acts in the world, including Four Tet, Nina Kraviz, Flume, and SFDK.
Other must-see acts: Twenty-One Pilots, Placebo, The Killers, Stormzy, Queens of the Stone Age, Florence + The Machine, Nathy Peluso, Sam Fender, Royal Blood, Leon Bridges, Phoebe Bridgers, Deftones, Chvrches, Yungblud, Wolf Alice, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club.
Where: Split, Croatia
When: July 8-10
What: One for EDM lovers, this glitzy three-day outdoor festival with multiple venues is an offshoot of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival that began in 2013 and attracts tens of thousands of revelers to the beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea. Headliners this year include Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tiësto, Richie Hawtin, Nina Kraviz, Marshmello, Above & Beyond, and more.
Other must-see acts: Joseph Capriati, Marco Carola, Hardwell, Amelie Lens, Alesso, Vini Vici, Frank Walker.
Baalbeck International Festival
Where: Baalbeck, Lebanon
What: The summer months might close down events in the Gulf, but you can still get your music fix in the region, thanks to this long-running (the first event took place in 1955) festival in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, where artists get to perform in the stunning surrounds of an ancient Roman Acropolis and the audience is treated to an eclectic mix of classical, dance, theater, opera, jazz, modern-day world music and some great indie acts from the Arab world. Few details have been released by the organizers for this year’s event, apart from the tagline: “We Are Alive.” We do know that Arabic pop-rock outfit Adonis and flamenco guitarist José Quevedo Bolita will perform.
When: July 15-17
What: This is the festival you need to go to if you want to impress your fellow audience members at one of the other big-name festivals in two years’ time, when you’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah. I saw them before they were famous.” Aside from big-name headliners and some old-school icons, the festival features some of the best up-and-coming talent in the alternative music scene, from across practically all genres. This year’s headliners are The National, Mitski, and The Roots.
Other must-see acts: Spiritualized, Japanese Breakfast, Parquet Courts, Low, Noname, Earl Sweatshirt, Toro y Moi, BadBadNotGood, Lucy Dacus, Cate Le Bon.
Rolling Loud Miami
Where: Miami, Florida
When: July 22-24
What: There are four Rolling Loud festivals this summer: Toronto, New York, Portugal and Miami. The latter is the pick of the bunch. Rolling Loud bills itself as the “world’s largest hip-hop festival,” so if you’re looking for a wild mix of genres, this isn’t the event for you. If you’re a rap fan, though, with headliners Ye (or whatever Kanye’s calling himself by late July), Future and Kendrick Lamar and an impressive supporting cast, this has everything you need for a great weekend.
Other must-see acts: Lil Baby, Playboy Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Kodak Black, Ski Mask the Slump God
Where: Grant Park, Chicago
When: July 28-31
What: Founded in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell as a traveling festival primarily geared towards alt-rock fans, Lollapalooza is now held annually over four days in Chicago and has broadened its remit to include electronica, hip-hop, soul, and pop, in addition to its guitar-driven origins. This year’s headliners are Metallica, Dua Lipa, J. Cole and Green Day. Jane’s Addiction will also make an appearance.
Other must-see acts: Lil Baby, Jazmine Sullivan, Manchester Orchestra, Machine Gun Kelly, Glass Animals, Kygo, Doja Cat, Charlie XCX, Tove Lo, Sam Fender
Primavera Sound LA
Where: Los Angeles
When: September 16-18
What: Primavera Sound originated in Barcelona and has built a reputation for booking stellar lineups of trending acts and established stars across a range of genres, with a focus on diversity and gender equality. This will be its first US version (plans to launch Stateside in 2020 were stymied by you-know-what) and it looks every bit as brilliant as its Spanish parent-festival. Headliners are Arctic Monkeys, Lorde and Nine Inch Nails.
Other must-see acts: Clairo, Stereolab, Faye Webster, Shygirl, Kim Gordon, Drain Gang, Low, King Krule, Jeff Mills