Summer festival preview

So you didn’t get a ticket to Lollapalooza. Join the club. You’re probably a little bit bitter, and even more resentful of your friends who somehow managed to procure an elusive ticket in the 10 seconds they were on sale and are now basking in the unbelievably incredible lineup. However, there’s no need to be upset. There are other festivals that are cheaper, may have a lineup more suited to your tastes and offer the kind of comprehensive festival camping experience that Lollapalooza can’t provide. Here are five of the lesser-known festivals around the country that might just prove to be the highlight of your summer.

1. Electric Forest

Proponents of the Electric Forest Festival (EFF) will immediately and earnestly tell you that if you are looking for the quintessential festival experience, EFF is the absolute pinnacle of all American festivals, no questions asked. Set on a ranch in Rothbury, Mich., the festival focuses on experimental dance music and jam bands, but the lineup is perfectly selected craft the unique Electric Forest experience. Highlights on the bill include Madeon, Grimes, Knife Party, Yeasayer (if you can’t get enough of them at W.I.L.D.) and a performance by Wash. U.’s very own 3LAU. The most exciting part about Electric Forest, though, is that the experience goes beyond just the names on a sheet. Much of the action happens inside the Sherwood Forest, where hammocks swing between trees and a cozy and intimate stage nestles itself right in between the closely-packed tree trunks. It is the stuff people dream of when they think of an ideal festival setting. With glow in the dark disc golf, art installations and a reputation for friendliness, Electric Forest is the perfect off-the-beaten-path festival, and you’ll almost certainly have better stories to tell than all your friends that went to Lollapalooza. The festival happens from June 27 to June 30. Tickets are about $270 and will sell out fast, so hurry. — Kayla Hollenbaugh

2. Sasquatch

If you live anywhere near the western seaboard, you’ve probably at least heard of Sasquatch, but this festival has surprisingly little name recognition throughout the rest of the U.S. in comparison to big names like Lollapalooza, Coachella and Bonnaroo, and it’s difficult to understand why. Held at the natural Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., it will undoubtedly have the most scenic setting of any festival this summer as the main stage is backed by panoramic views of the Columbia River and the Cascade Range. The festival began with an eclectic focus on singer-songwriters and indie artists but now is famed for attracting huge headliners while still cultivating a lineup of up-and-coming and smaller artists. The result is a weekend that will appeal to many music fans, whether you want to dance yourself delirious in a tent or lie back on the grassy slopes surrounding the main stage. Headliners include Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service and another chance to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for those who failed to at WUStock, but the stacked lineup extends far beyond those at the top: expect performers as varied as Steve Aoki, Azealia Banks, The xx and Imagine Dragons. Plus, Nick Offerman will be one of the many comedians performing over the weekend. So what’s your excuse to miss not only great music but also Ron Swanson? One of the earlier summer festivals, the action happens from May 24 to May 27 and tickets are about $350 for all 4 days — Kayla Hollenbaugh

3. Firefly

This is only the second year of Firefly Music Festival, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by its star-studded lineup. Held in Dover, Del., Firefly 2013 will feature headliners like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Ellie Goulding and many more. In fact, this year’s artists cover a pretty wide variety of genres, from indie and classic rock to rap and electronic dance music. One of the best parts about Firefly, though, is its setting. The festival takes place in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, so camping out—or dropping $1,500 on a “glamping” package—is a must for the full experience. Then when you’re not hopping between the festival’s four stages, you can relax in your tent or head to The Hub for food trucks, a farmers market and yoga lessons. Basically, it’s like an East Coast version of Bonnaroo, only smaller and slightly less crazy. Firefly will be held June 21-23, and three-day passes are currently on sale and going fast, so get your tickets to “the East Coast’s premiere music experience” while you still can. – Katherine Jaruzelski

4. Governor’s Ball

You may be wondering why a summer musical festival in New York City is called Governor’s Ball. Well, it may have something to do with the fact that in its first year (2011) it was held on Governor’s Island, but more likely it has to do with the fact that there is croquet. Yep, if you get bored of the music, don’t worry. There are lawn games and ping-pong. How about the music though? Only fitting for a festival so close to the hipster capital, some top-flight indie bands will be playing, including Kings of Leon, The xx, Animal Collective and Of Monsters and Men to name just a few. The hip-hop performers are strong as well, featuring Kanye West as a headliner one night as well as Kendrick Lamar and Nas. Inexplicably, Guns N’ Roses is the third headliner and only classic rock band playing. Tickets are $220 for all three days, and there are also tickets for a shuttle or ferry for transportation to the festival. Check it out June 7 to 9. — Trevor Leuzinger

5. Pitchfork

Run by indie tastemaker Pitchfork Media, this festival has developed a reputation for staying on the cutting edge. Its headliners may not be as recognizable as Coachella’s or Lollapalooza’s, but Pitchfork has been particularly adept at booking artists just before they break out. While this year’s headliners (R. Kelly, Belle & Sebastian, and Bjork) are the most popular in the festival’s history, the lineup as a whole is sorely lacking in star power, even for a mid-sized festival. Of particular concern is the overreliance on young artists, many of whom have released only one album. It’s always exciting to discover artists before they hit it big, but young acts tend to wilt under the pressure of festival audiences larger than those they usually draw, although sometimes the excitement of a first festival provides an incredible live show. Though the opportunity to hear “Ignition (Remix)” live singlehandedly justifies the relatively modest ticket price ($120 for a 3-day pass, $50 for single-day tickets), this year is uncharacteristically weak, but that doesn’t mean that Pitchfork will be the ideal festival for someone looking for a city festival like Lollapalooza without the crowds of pop music fans. – Mark Matousek

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