Photo courtesy of Governor's BallGovernor's Ball, June 23-24, New York, NY (Randall's Island)
Cost: $95 per day
Line-up: Passion Pit, Beck, Fiona Apple, Santigold, Kid CuDi, Chromeo, Major Lazer, Devendra Banhart, Cults, Duck Sauce + more
Highlights: The Silent Disco -- a massive dance party in which participants wear headphones and listen to live DJs spinning at the fest -- Ping Pong courtesy of SPiN NYC, and food from Luke's Lobster Roll, Asiadog, Mexicue and Cool Haus, among others. Also: no overlapping sets, the bane of many a festivalgoers' existence.
Bearability Index: Moderate to high. While there is only one tent area where festgoers can go for rest and shade, there are also lots of trees on Randalls Island that will provide relief from the sun. There will also be four refillable water stations where you can get free H2O courtesy of CamelBak.
Photo courtesy of Electric Forest FestivalElectric Forest Festival, June 28-July 1, Rothbury, MI
Cost: $242.50 for the whole weekend
Line-up: The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, STS9, Theivery Corporation, Steve Aoki, Girl Talk, Santigold, Major Lazer and Das Racist + more
Highlights: By far the biggest highlight is the festival's Sherwood Forest, centrally located in the grounds. Not only does it provide shade but concert attendees can also find hammocks, art installations and "surprises" scattered among its paths along with awesome light displays, performances and parties at night.
Bearability Index: Moderate to High. The grounds are massive, which cuts down on the crowd density. If you don't care as much about seeing the concerts, there's even a dude ranch, a lake and a water park nearby, where you can escape the mob scenes and cool off. You will be camping (and using their showers and restroom facilities), however, so all we can advise is two words: baby wipes.
Photo courtesy of Festival International de JazzFestival International de Jazz, June 28-July 7, Montreal, QC
Cost: Prices vary
Line-up: Rufus Wainwright, Chromeo, Dirty Projectors, Chick Corea, Purity Ring, Esperanza Spalding and slew of other jazz greats
Highlights: Since tickets are sold per show, there are a ton of free concerts (including Rufus Wainwright and Chromeo, for starters).
Bearability Index: High. This is nothing like Bonnaroo or Coachella. There won't be any camping or "roughing it" and since you purchase tickets to individual shows (rather than a weekend pass) the crowds will be bearable, if only because you're dealing with them for a very limited time (the length of a concert). Oh, and don't forget you're in one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities so after the show's over, you'll want for nothing.
The Flaming Lips at Pitchfork 2009Pitchfork Festival, July 13-15, Chicago, IL
Cost: $45 per day (3 day passes are sold out)
Line-up: Feist, Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Grimes, Danny Brown, Hot Chip, Dirty Projectors, Purity Ring, A$AP Rocky, Sleigh Bells, Wild Flag, Kendrick Lamar + more
Highlights: Proud for being a festival that remains true to its indie credo, this DIY vibe extends beyond the bands. There will be a mini market selling handmade clothing, jewelry, and artwork alongside Pitchfork's longstanding record and poster fair.
Bearability Index: Moderate to High. The crowd is purposefully kept small, as major festivals go, which cuts down on everything from the scrum at the stage to lines for food, water, and port-o-potties. There typically are also sponsored tents (last year's was courtesy of Heineken) where you can get some cool air pumped into your face and a brew.
Catalpa Music Festival, July 28-29, New York, NY (Randall's Island)
Cost: $179.99 for the weekend/$99.99 per day
Line-up: The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Girl Talk, TV on the Radio, Matt and Kim, A$AP Rocky, Zola Jesus + more
Highlights: 2012 is the inaugural year for the Catalpa fest and it promises to "transform people out of their ordinary setting" with not only music but also art installations scattered around Randall's Island. The fest also plans to host a silent disco, a hot tub where you might find some champagne, bumper cars, a spire with DJs inside that shoot 30-foot flames and an inflatable church where love-struck festival attendees can get hitched. Oh, and Snoop Dogg's set will consist of him playing his entire Doggystyle album.
Bearability Index: Unknown. Since this is the first year of the fest and no maps have been made available yet, we're going with our best guess and say that it will be moderate based on its location and scope. At the very least, there will be lots and lots of diversions to escape the crowds.
Lollapalooza Festival, August 3-5, Chicago, IL
Cost: Three-day passes were $230 but they've all sold out
Line-up: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Jack White, Black Sabbath, Florence + the Machine, Avicii, The Shins, Passion Pit, Justice + more
Highlights: This massive fest offers plenty of lounges (especially some premium cabanas that come with upgraded tickets), gourmet food vendors and kid-friendly activities.
Bearability Index: Low. Unless you're willing to pay for VIP tickets, expect enormous crowds, poor cell phone service (which makes meeting up with friends impossible) and few shaded areas. That said, you're in one of the country's loveliest cities and are only a bus ride away from some of Chicago's premier cultural attractions if you need to escape (though there's no re-entry for single day ticket holders).
Osheaga Festival, August 3-5, Montreal, QC
Line-up: Snoop Dogg, The Black Keys, Sigur Rós, Metric, Feist, Justice, MGMT, Florence + the Machine, Bloc Party, M83, The Weeknd + more
Highlights: In addition to music, the festival sponsors visual arts exhibits located in venues across the city in the weeks leading up to the fest.
Bearability Index: Low to moderate. As with other large-scale fests, expect huge crowds and probably long waits. On the flipside, you won't be camping in Montreal so presumably whatever hotel/hostel/couch you're crashing in will have a nice shower to return to after the fest.
Photo courtesy of Outside LandsOutside Land's Festival, August 10-12, San Francisco, CA
Line-up: Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Foo Fighters, Beck, Skrillex, Regina Spektor, Big Boi, Andrew Bird + more
Highlights: The boonanas line-up for starters (Stevie Wonder and Neil Young AND Metallica??) as well a major emphasis on food and wine from the Bay Area's renowned culinary haunts and nearby Napa Valley vineyards, art, and variety acts and comedy that pays homage to the area's infamous Barbary Coast district.
Bearability Index: Moderate. The fest promises to have lots of refillable water stations on site and with all of the food, wine, and sideshow diversions, there are opportunities to escape the mobs. Plus, San Francisco's famously temperate weather may also provide some relief.
Bumbershoot Festival, September 1-3, Seattle, WA
Line-up: Jane's Addiction, Tony Bennett, Skrillex, Gotye, Big Sean, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Best Coast + more
Highlights: In addition to music, the fest also promises to have comedy, visual art, spoken word, dance, theatre and film programming. Comedy and film line-ups are still TBA but expect big things (particularly in the comedic realm) considering that the fest has previously hosted the likes of Doug Benson, Eugene Mirman, John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Greg Behrendt, Donald Glover, Patton Oswalt and more.
Bearability Index: High. The festival grounds are home to indoor and outdoor venues with plenty of opportunities to escape the heat and rest your feet at sit-down performances.
FYF Fest, September 1-2, Los Angeles, CA
Line-up: Refused, M83, Beirut, James Blake, Yeaysayer, Sleigh Bells, Simian Mobile Disco, Wild Flag, Twin Shadow, Fucked Up + more
Highlights: The fest also presents a veritable selection of comedians (TBA), art installations, clothing and jewelry vendors.
Bearability Index: Low to moderate. Minimal shady areas are off-set by an increase in food vendors and beer gardens where the 21+ crowd can escape throngs of people in the main concert areas.