FestPop’s Top 10 Festival Picks for May 2015

May is always a transitional month in the festival world. School is finally letting out for the summer holidays and all the students are just itching to get out to some great shows after having their brains scrambled throughout finals week. Aside from the student population, the rest of the world is way ahead of the game and has already been gearing up for the nonstop summer festival season for months. Here are a few festivals that we think would be a great way to kick off your summer festival season! (Just listed in chronological order, picking favorites across such varying categories is too difficult!)

Shakey Knees (May 8-10) Atlanta, Georgia

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The Shaky Knees line up is the indie rock lover’s paradise. This year’s headliners include classics like Social Distortion, The Pixies and Flogging Molly, cult favorites like Brand New and Neutral Milk Hotel, and they cover a broad spectrum of other artists like The Avett Brothers, Wilco, Tame Impala, Interpol, and many more. Tickets are running $199 for a 3-day pass and $99 for a single day. (Prices listed don’t include service charges or taxes) If you upgrade to VIP you are looking at $225 for a single day pass and $599 for a 3-day. Anyone without the cash flow for the fest can volunteer for a ticket via The Work Exchange Team. This is not a camping festival so you will want to look into hotels near by if you are traveling from afar. They have discounted rates at The W hotels in Buckhead, Midtown, and Downtown for Shaky Knees attendees. The Downtown location is closest to the festival. After all that dancing and shaking knees, crashing at one of the luxurious W Hotels will probably sound like the best way to recharge for the next day of the show.

Levitation (May 8-10) Austin, TX

Levitation

Formerly known as Austin Psych Fest, Levitation embraces the psych-rock gurus desire to jam and space out to some of the best acts in the genre. Big names will be taking the stage this year such as The Flaming Lips, 13th Floor Elevators, and Tame Impala. Other notable performances are going to be Mac Demarco, The Black Angels, Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the list goes on. Carson Creek Ranch has campsites available for those that don’t want to leave the festival grounds for the entire weekend. For those who enjoy the occasional shower after a long day of festivaling (which in the Texas summer heat, this is very likely), this venue is only about 10 or 15 minutes outside of the heart of Austin so hotel accommodations should not be hard to find, nor very expensive. Tickets are $165 for the entire weekend, $65 for single day passes are $75 per person, not per car. The venue itself usually has two main stages going, one of which is under a big canopy type tent: this will be a big deal to you in the Texas heat. Parking is pretty cheap, in comparison to other festivals that occur in Austin, $10 per day or $20 for a weekend parking pass. The festival is partnered with the Reverberation Appreciation Society’s record label so you can catch a lot of new artists and music from them at the festival and get some great merch.

Rock In Rio USA (May 8-9, 15-16) Las Vegas, Nevada

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This festival originated in, you guessed it: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, the festival that has also taken place in Lisbon and Madrid, has finally made it to the States for a two weekend event in the one and only…Vegas baby! The first weekend is the rock weekend and will showcase huge names like Metallica, No Doubt, Linkin Park, Foster the People, The Deftones, Coheed and Cambria, and Gary Clark Junior. The following weekend (May 15-16) is the pop weekend and has many of the current chart toppers like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Jessie J, John Legend and Charlie XCX. A general admission pass is $298 per weekend and VIP pass prices are listed on a one-day basis for $498 per day. It is highly recommended you buy shuttle passes for $25 per weekend or just use the monorail to get from your hotel to the venue because parking is extremely limited at the Las Vegas Convention Center for an event of this size. Rock in Rio is one of the most historic global rock and roll shows so go be a part of it’s first year in the U.S. and let’s make sure they come back next year!

Hangout Fest (May 15-17) Gulf Shores, Alabama

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What better way to start summer than to be on the beach and at a festival at the same time? Hangout Fest combines the best of both of those worlds on Gulf Shores, Alabama. There is always a good mix of genres at this festival and this year the lineup will include Grammy winners like Beck and Sam Smith, as well as The Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, Umphreys McGee, Phantogram, Lupe Fiasco, Skrillex, Krewella, Adventure Club, Cold War Kids, etc. 3-day general admission is $249.00 with a $31.50 fee, 3-day VIP is $1,099.00 with a $55.75 fee and a 3-day Super VIP is $1,599.00 with a $69.25 fee. The website also has a link where you can book condos on the beach close to the festival so you can just walk to the show from your beach house. Start getting your beach bod ready for Hangout Fest 2015.

Liverpool Sound City (May 22-24) Liverpool, UK

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Sound City is one of the most respected festivals in the industry and is where industry professionals in the UK look to know who is going to be the next big name. The two-day music festival runs alongside the festival’s digital industry conference. Not only is there the opportunity to see great acts like The Flaming Lips, The Vaccines, The Dum Dum Girls, Cymbals Eat Guitars, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (John Lennon’s son’s project) and many more, but attendees also have the opportunity to hear many of the industry’s most respected professional speak at the conference. Past speakers have included Seymour Stein of Warner Bros and Sire Records and many other representatives from the most influential organizations in the industry such as Live Nation, Universal Music Publishing, and Island Records. For the music festival only, a 3-day wristband is only £65 and £35 for a 1-day wristband. A conference pass only is £70 and a pass for the music festival and the conference is £120. This is one of the premier informative and networking opportunities for the aspiring industry professional and those who have already made their mark. Aside from that, there are just some overall great musicians on the ticket this year that are soon to be a part of everyone’s music library.

Boston Calling (May 22-24) Boston, Massachusetts

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Some artists are going to have one busy summer festival season because Beck made it onto the lineup for Boston Calling as well! You will also find Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket, St. Vincent, The Pixies, Tenacious D, and TV on the Radio. A 3-day pass is $175, a Saturday and Sunday Weekend Pass is $135, a Friday 1-day pass is only $50 and a Saturday or Sunday 1-day pass is $75. If you want a chance to really experience the city of Boston, this is a great show for you to go to because it takes place right on City Hall Plaza in the heart of Boston. Keep in mind that because of the location parking is going to be extremely difficult, so try to take public transport or get dropped off if at all possible. Gates open pretty early each day around 12 noon (except on Friday they open at 6:00 pm) at this festival and the music is going to be over by 11:00 pm each night so don’t take all day pre-gaming and getting ready or you will miss some great shows!

Counterpoint (May 22-24) Kingston Downs, California

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This year’s Counterpoint lineup has its usual great mix of various types of EDM, jam bands and reggae music. The lineup includes Knife Party, Widespread Panic, Dillon Francis, Rebelution, RL Grime, What So Not, Cherub, Emancipator Ensemble, Zedd, The Roots, Zeds Dead and Umphrey’s McGee. An advance 3-day pass is $175 but the regular 3-day pass price will be $195. Single day passes for Friday are only $65 but for Saturday or Sunday 1-day passes the price goes up to $95. A VIP 3-day pass is $475, a single day VIP for Friday is $150 and a single day VIP for Saturday or Sunday is $200. This is a camping festival for those who love to really live their festival experience but hotel packages are on the site soon for rates for Counterpoint attendees. It is never a bad time for a road trip with some good friends out to the beautiful Cali sunshine, so what better way to start summer than to head west for some great dance music!

Sasquatch (May 22-25) Quincy, Washington

Sasquatch! Music Festival 2011

If you have a wide variety of taste in music, the Gorge will never disappoint. The legendary Robert Plant will be performing this year with his project Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters. They will be joined by Kendrick Lamar, Modest Mouse, Lana Del Rey, Of Monsters and Men, Tame Impala, St. Vincent, James Blake, Flume, Spoon, School Boy Q, and many others. This is primarily a camping festival due to the location so plan on buying camping passes and stocking up on all your camp gear. The full 4-day General Admission pass is $350. The view at Sasquatch is unbelievable and is an ideal adventure for any nature lovers because you are right in the middle of the mountains in Washington.

EDC NYC (May 23-24) Rutherford, New Jersey

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The Electric Daisy Carnival never fails to bring the best acts in all of the electronic dance music scene and the EDC New York lineup for 2015 at the Metlife Stadium is no exception. The lineup has not been released yet but there is no doubt that they will be bringing the biggest names in the EDM industry to this show, as they do every year for all of the other EDC’s around the country and the rest of the world. General Admission Tier 2 tickets are $229, GA Tier 3 are $249, VIP Tier 1 are $349 and VIP Tier 2 are $379. So all the shufflers and dance enthusiasts need to go ahead and mark this one on their calendars if you are going to be anywhere near the northeastern US this summer.

Primavera Sound (May 28-30) Barcelona, Spain

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Spain is by far one of the most beautiful destinations for someone to travel to any summer, but an even better way to spend a weekend in Barcelona is at Primavera Sound. The massive lineup has some great names like Alt-J, The Black Keys, Brand New, Caribou, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Interpol, James Blake, Mac Demarco, The Strokes, Tyler, The Creator, just to name a few. The only tickets that aren’t sold out at this point are the €185 tickets that will be available from February 4th until May 4th and then the prices go up to €195 after May 5th until the start of the festival. There are numerous ticket options for payment plans, VIP options, hotel packages, etc. They are huge on keeping the festival very environment friendly at Primavera so try to travel via public transport or on bike/foot, drink out of fountains for water/refill your water bottle and use all the recycling bins placed throughout the festival rather than just trashing everything. A beautiful setting with plenty of great music is an ideal way to spend a summer vacation in Europe.

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Written by FestPop Staff Writer

Lindsay Shearon

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