Backstory: Summer Music Festivals

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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.

blog-summer-fests-01.jpgBjörk

Manchester International Festival (June 30 to July 17, various locations, mif.co.uk)
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, pitchforkmusicfestival.com)
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, lollapalooza.com)
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 (steppenwolf.org).

blog-summer-fests-03.jpgOdd Future

Hard Fest (August 6, Los Angeles State Historic Park, hardfest.com)
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 (honorfraser.com).

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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