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 Backstory: Summer Music Festivals

Backstory: Summer Music Festivals

Music City may boast some of the country’s most exciting live-music venues, but when it comes to fun in the sun, you can’t beat the summer festival. Here are four worth traveling for.


Manchester International Festival (June 30 to July 17, various locations,
Lowdown: Like a love child of Performa, Humana, and Coachella, MIF combines art, music, theater, and live performance. This year brings the four-years-in-the-making, Robert Wilson–helmed play, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovi´c, and Snoop Dogg’s performance of his debut album, Doggystyle.
Must-See: Björk (above) gives six (relatively) intimate performances from her new album, Biophilia.
Sleeper: Three theatrical sets of Paul Heaton’s eight-chapter, seven deadly sins–invoking pop song, “The 8th.”

blog-summer-fests-02.jpgJames Blake

Pitchfork Music Festival (July 15 to 17, Union Park, Chicago,
Lowdown: “It’s a real-life extension of our magazine, a way to directly create an environment that is friendly, inviting, and about the experience,” says Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie of the five-year-old fest run by the must-read music website. With 41 bands it found “interesting and exciting”—which is to say, about to blow up—Pitchfork drew 35,000 fans in 2006. This year it expects 55,000.
Must-See: James Blake (above).
Sleeper: Brit rockers Yuck, whose February debut drew a buzzmaking 8.1 rating on the site.

blog-summer-fests-04.jpgFoster the People

Lollapalooza (August 5 to 7, Grant Park, Chicago,
Lowdown: Perry Farrell says he was “simply planning a summer adventure” when he launched Lollapalooza with the Violent Femmes, the Butthole Surfers, and a gun-toting Ice-T. Twenty years later, it’s still going strong.
Must-See: The Cars, hot off their first album since 1987.
Sleeper: Foster the People (vocalist Mark Foster, above), L.A.’s answer to MGMT.
While There: Catch Will Eno’s new play, Middletown, which drew raves in New York and runs through August 14 in the Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre (

blog-summer-fests-03.jpgOdd Future

Hard Fest (August 6, Los Angeles State Historic Park,
Lowdown: Four-stage extravaganza (seen at New York’s Governors Island last year), with rap, rock, and an electro tent curated by James Murphy’s DFA Records.
Must-See: The critic-slaying rap group Odd Future (above).
Sleeper: DJ sets by Murphy and Miike Snow.
While There: Don’t miss the Gardar Eide Einarsson–curated punk show at Honor Fraser gallery (

Read Marshall Chapman’s “Nashville Rising” here.

Manchester International Festival: Zipi/Epa/Corbis; Pitchfork: Rahav Seger/Retna Ltd./Corbis; Hard Fest: Michael Tulberg/Stringer/Getty Images; Lollapalooza: Karl Walter/Getty Images.

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