As summer comes to an end, so, too, does its magical subset: Festival Season. This year, we hit the road for several tours of the east coast, hitting festivals big and small, from Florida to New York. Of course, there were dozens of festivals we couldn’t make, but whose performances will nevertheless live on in music lore for years to come.
Among our most talked about experiences and heard-about hearsay, here are 5 that stand out:
1. The Hudson Project - a wonderful mud-filled experience. Kendrick Lamar and The Flaming Lips proved why they were headliners, and we got to party a little bit in the Dreamatorium with The Soul Rebels and Lettuce. Yes, the festival’s final day got rained out, but the Hudson Project is going to be a musical force to be reckoned with in the Northeast in the coming years.
2. Bonnaroo - It’s tough for such an established festival to keep improving, but in our humble opinion, Bonnaroo does each year. This year saw Elton, Kanye, Jack White, Phoenix, Sam Smith and more. One of our favorite new features at this year’s ‘Roo was the Kalliope Stage. Once the sun set, the party started. Lights, lasers, bass, CRYOGENICS. It was a trip.
3. Wanee - One of the earlier festivals of the year, Wanee went down in Florida in April because, well, they can get away with things like this in April in Florida (we still have snow here in VT). Wanee’s lineup reached from the Allmans to Trey Band, Electric Hot Tuna, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
4. WYSIWYG Festival - This small music-and-food festival just finished its second year, taking place on the grounds of Burlington College in Burlington, VT. Although it’s very much a local festival, WYSIWYG (short for What You See Is What You Get) threw down with memorable performances from Anais Mitchell, Shaky Graves and TONS of local food, beer and cider from Vermont’s best restaurants, breweries and cider makers.
5. Newport Folk Festival - The granddaddy of them all. Newport was where Dylan went electric for the first time. It’s been around for 50 years and in the last five has seen a huge revival of spirit and performance. The Rhode Island oceanfront bared witness to Ryan Adams (touring for the first time in several years), Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy’s band with his son, Spencer, on drums), Mavis Staples, Dawes and more. The bands seem to love playing here as much as the fans love attending the festival. If you missed out, NPR usually streams a bunch of performances each year, and archives some as well. Check them out here.
There are a few more left to go, and we’re looking forward to them, because each one, while totally unique and exhilarating, full of friendly faces and dancing feet, has a familiar feeling to it. It all starts with a car ride and a playlist, and then a camp set-up and a setlist. As memories face over time, we made a little video to keep them fresh. Check it out above.