BY: JOEY REAMS
Normally music festival season kicks off in April, signaled by Coachella’s Lineup reveal at the beginning of the year. Well, 2020 was all but normal, and unfortunately, we saw all music festivals fall to the Coronavirus. As the world continues to deal with the pandemic, music festival organizers have waited long enough and have begun to put on music festivals across the country. Although things won’t be completely normal, and you may have to show proof of vaccination or a negative covid-19 test, there’s still plenty of fun to be had this year. To help you find exactly which one you want to go to, we’ve broken them all down and sorted out all the indie and alternative artists within their lineups.
Columbus, OH; Aug. 28-29
This is the smallest festival on our list, but don’t let that fool you. This lineup is stacked for Ohio’s biggest live concert event in over a year. Headliners this year include Kesha, AJR, Wilco, and Grouplove. Some indie/ alternative highlights from the lineup include The Knocks, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Black Pumas. You can find more information here.
“The world is coming back, and you can be a part of the celebration,” reads the website. “Outdoors, open-air and wide-open space. Live music, great food, and all of your friends together once again.”
Milwaukee, WI; Sept. 2-18
Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, has returned in a new three-weekend format. Normally this festival is two weeks straight, but in an attempt to spread people out, they have changed it to Sept. 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18. This huge festival has something for everyone, but in terms of indie/ alternative, you can expect to see Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Twenty One Pilots, Pixies, Bleachers, Rise Against, Cold War Kids, Dave Matthews Bands, Wilco, and Guns N’ Roses. You can find more information here.
Manchester, TN; Sept. 2-5
Tennessee’s biggest music festival has made a triumphant return after having to cancel last year. Bonnaroo Music Festival will kick off in September with tons of great indie/ alternative artists for you to see. Some highlights from this year’s lineup include Foo Fighters, Glass Animals, Tame Impala, Phoebe Bridgers, Incubus, My Morning Jacket, Young the Giant, Brittany Howard, and many more. You can find more information here.
Napa, CA; Sept. 3-5
California’s first big music festival this year takes place in September with BottleRock. Normally Coachella would have this honor, but that has been postponed until next year. Bottlerock offers some of the most luxurious amenities a festival can offer, such as spas and wine tasting, but their entry requirements have been updated. This year’s lineup includes Stevie Nicks, Brandi Carlile, Guns n’ Roses, Portugal. The Man, Young the Giant, Milky Chance, Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant, Future Islands, and many more. You can find more information here.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Chicago, IL; Sept. 10-12
Pitchfork Magazine is celebrating its music festival’s 15th anniversary with a lineup that is almost impossible to pass up. The three-day event is headlined by the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, and Erykah Badu. Other indie/ alternative artists on this lineup include Big Thief, Animal Collective, Angel Olsen, Ty Segall & Freedom Band, Waxahatchee, Cat Power, and many more. You can find more information here.
Treefort Music Fest
Boise, ID; Sept. 22-26
One of the largest, yet still underground, music festivals surrounded by indie music is downtown Boise, where you will find Treefort Music Festival in late September. You may not have heard of this festival before, but you’ve heard of the bands playing there. Some of the highlights from this year’s lineup include Japanese Breakfast, The Marias, Lake Street Drive, Calexico, Built to Spill, Goth Babe, and Tennis. You can find more information here.
Dover, DE; Sept. 23-26
The second smallest state in the country always has one of the best music festivals. In Dover, Delaware, Firefly Music Festival seems always to have the most jam-packed lineup with something for everyone. This year’s lineup is headlined by Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala, and Lizzo. If that wasn’t enough, some indie/ alternative artists on this year’s lineup include Phoebe Bridgers, girl in red, Cage the Elephant, Sylvan Esso, Band of Horses, Glass Animals, Portugal. The Man, and so many more. You can find more information here.
New York, NY; Sept. 24-26
New York’s largest music festival is a little on the hip-hop and pop side this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any rock artists on the bill. This year, for the festival’s 10th anniversary, you can find Billie Eilish, Leon Bridges, Portugal. The Man, Future Islands, Phoebe Bridgers, Bleachers, Big Thief, and a few more. If you’re a fan of both hip-hop and rock, we’d recommend trying to go to this festival. You can find more information here.
Austin City Limits
Austin, TX; Oct. 1-3 & Oct. 8-10
If you’re around Texas in October, you might want to check this one out. Austin City Limits is two weekends with the same headliners but different lineups. The headliners include George Strait, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Rufus Du Sol, Stevie Nicks, and DaBaby. Depending on which weekend you go to, you can see Bleachers, Modest Mouse, Phoebe Bridgers, Future Islands, Greta Van Fleet, St. Vincent, Band of Horses, and many others. You can find more information here.
San Francisco, CA; Oct. 29-31
Last but not least, we have Outside Lands in San Francisco, CA, on Halloween weekend! This might be your only time to see Outside Lands during this time. This year, this is California’s other big music festival, featuring The Strokes, Lizzo, and Tame Impala as the headliners. Some indie/ alternative highlights from this lineup include Glass Animals, Sharon Van Etten, Vampire Weekend, Lord Huron, Brittany Howard, and so much more. You can find more information here.