Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s the return of summer music festivals, where fans can experience music, art, dancing, (sometimes) camping and lots of fun.
Over the last 10 or so years, music festivals in American (and around the world, really) have absolutely exploded. It seems that almost every major US city has at least one music festival, if not more.
As someone who loves music and going to concerts, I can’t help but get excited when I see music festival lineups drop. Not only is it a sign about who may be touring and releasing new music, it’s also fun to see bands climb the lineup ranks, year after year.
Because there are just so many music festivals, I thought I’d be fun to rank this summer’s lineups, from best to worse. Granted, you really can’t go wrong with these festivals, but still, some are better than others (in my opinion, of course).
Oh, and Coachella is this weekend, so if you wanted to go still, you better buy a ticket soon!
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, Paramore, Lil Nas X
Location: Manchester, Tennessee
When: June 15-18
I may be a bit biased because I’ve attended Bonnaroo twice (and will be going for a third time this summer), but for me, Bonnaroo has the best lineup this summer. The festival always has a good lineup, but this year’s really takes the cake. There is something on here for everyone, no matter what genre of music you love. From rock, rap and electronic music, you can get a taste of a little bit of everything at Roo this year. I mean, where else can you see Lil Nas X and Sheryl Crow perform on the same day?
2. Boston Calling
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, Paramore, The Lumineers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
When: May 26-28
When so many music festivals have booked artists that appeal to a younger crowd who likes electronic dance music, Boston Calling has kept its indie rock roots strong over the years, and it’s safe to say I am obsessed with this lineup. The headliners are all fantastic, but the undercard is what really sets this festival apart. Artists like The National, Marren Morris, Bleachers and The Flaming Lips are all great additions to the headliners.
3. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Headliners: Lizzo, Dead and Co., Mumford and Sons, Santana, Ed Sheeran
Location: New Orleans
When: April 28-May 7
This weeklong festival always has iconic performers at it because, well, it’s a week long. They have tons of music slots to fill up, and there are always legendary musicians stopping by in New Orleans for this one. Obviously, the headliners are fantastic, but the fact that some artists like Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, H.E.R. and Steve Miller Band are not even at the top of the lineup should just tell you how great this lineup is.
Headliners: Frank Ocean, BLACKPINK, Bad Bunny, Gorillaz, Björk
Location: Indio Valley, California
When: April 14-16 and 21-23
Coachella is obviously the most famous music festival in America, and they normally deliver a pretty epic lineup each year. While this year’s headliners are 100% catered to Gen Z, the fact that Frank Ocean is headlining is pretty epic. Add in favorites like Gorillaz, Björk, Blondie, Charlie XCX, boygenius and a surprise DJ set from Idris Elba, and Coachella is still proving that they can compile an interesting and fun lineup, even after 20 years in the game.
Headliners: Foo Fighers, Eddie Vedder, The Killers, Pretenders
Location: Dana Point, Califiornia
When: Sept 29-Oct 1
While this festival is technically not happening over the summer, it is still a stellar lineup, that is most likely catered to older millennials and Gen X. Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl are like the spokespeople for Gen X, so it all makes sense. The headliners are amazing (Pretenders? Yes, please!), but other acts like The Chicks, HAIM, Father John Misty and The War on Drugs round out a great festival lineup. If you’re in California in the fall, go to this! I wish I could.
6. Outside Lands
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, Lana Del Rey
Location: San Francisco
When: Aug. 11-13
Outside Lands has very similar headliners to a lot of music festivals this summer (seriously though, were Foo Fighers, Kendrick Lamar and Odesza this best anyone could come up with?), but the second level of headliners at this festival is pretty impressive. Megan the Stallion, Janelle Monae and Maggie Rogers is enough to make me want to go.
Headliners: Bon Iver, Big Thief, The Smile. Alvvays, Weyes Blood
When: July 21-23
If you’re really into music and want to attend a music festival in Chicago this summer, go to Pitchfork instead of Lollapalooza. Bon Iver is a great choice for a Sunday night headliner, and the rest of the lineup is fleshed out with great acts, like Snail Mail, Julia Jacklin and Kelela. Plus, the entire vibe of Pitchfork is way more chill than other festivals, especially Lollapalooza.
Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, SZA, Calvin Harris, Paramore
Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama
When: May 19-21
Hangout is never really on my radar when I decide what music festival I want to attend over the summer, but I’m not mad about this years’! The fact that they booked SZA, who is not playing other music festivals this summer, is pretty epic. Plus, I’d totally love to see Paramore and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Hangout lineup is pretty small too, so it’s not overwhelming when you’re looking at all the acts.
Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Odesza, Lana Del Rey
When: Aug 3-6
Normally, Lollapalooza will have a pretty good mix of headliners, and a few headliners that are only playing at Lollapalooza that summer. Billie Eilish is a good booking, as is Red Hot Chili Peppers, but those two acts don’t excite me as much, alongside the other headliners, who will be everywhere all summer long. Maybe I’m just getting old and I don’t know the bands that the youth are listening to, but even the undercard of this festival was underwhelming. There are a few bright spots with Maggie Rogers, Carly Rae Jepsen and Rina Sawayama.
10. Governors Ball
Headliners: Lizzo, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, HAIM, Diplo
Location: New York City
When: June 9-11
Sometimes I like to look back at old Governors Ball lineups, and think to myself, “what happened to this music festival?” It’s not that Governors Ball has a terrible lineup this year, but they used to book just such great acts that were normally not playing other festivals. They do get some bonus points for booking Lizzo and HAIM, which adds some much needed diversity to the headliners, but other than than, nothing on this lineup excites me, which is such a bummer.
11. Life Is Beautiful
Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, The Killers, Odesza, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Location: Las Vegas
When: Sept. 22-24
Oh wow, another music festival that Kendrick Lamar and Odesza are headlining! I love these two acts, but it is kind of annoying that they are playing pretty much ever major music festival this summer. I get that this festival is in Vegas, but besides Kim Petras playing as well, there is nothing too exciting about Life Is Beautiful this summer...I mean fall.