June 18, 2019 | 72° F

Summer festivals heating up the East Coast

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With Coachella wrapping up last weekend, it’s officially music festival season. Music festivals are a great experience for casual and diehard fans alike because of the multiple acts you can see in one day. With Rutgers’ proximity to major cities like New York and Philly, there are plenty of festivals to attend, which vary in terms of genre and format. Some are one day, while others are are a whole month. Festivals like Governor’s Ball (Randall’s Island, NYC June 1-3)  encompass a wide variety of genres with major star power, while smaller celebrations like Northside Festival (Brooklyn, June 6-10) focus on indie and underground artists. Here are five festivals that should be on your radar as concert season swings into full gear.

Afropunk (August 25-26)

Afropunk is a Brooklyn-based festival founded on a few strong guiding principles. According to its website, its mission is to “unleash freedom of expression, and honor the power of individuality while strengthening our community.” With a lineup centered around artists of color, the festival is a celebration of underrepresented communities. The 2018 lineup is an exciting mix of some of the best in R&B, hip-hop and alternative. For R&B, neo-soul legend Erykah Badu is performing along with popular acts like Daniel Caesar, Miguel and The Internet. Rap auteur Tyler, the Creator is one of the highlights for hip-hop, with acts like Smino, Denzel Curry and Secret Circle building up a strong collection of rappers. If you’re looking for alternative acts, headliner Janelle Monae is reason enough to cop a ticket. Artists like Lion Babe, Ibeyi and Twin Shadow help round out a strong bill. 

Panorama (July 27-29)

Panorama is based on Randall’s Island, the same location as Governor’s Ball, and they’ve assembled a fierce lineup this year. First and foremost, Janet Jackson is performing, which might be the most surprising headliner at any festival all summer. The surprise is a welcome one however, since “legend” is an understatement for an artist as accomplished as Janet. The Weeknd, Gucci Mane, Dua Lipa, Cardi B, David Byrne and more help to amass the well-rounded setlist. If you want to dance, producer/DJ Yaeji is sure to put on an energetic house/electronic set. Bands like Mount Kimbie, The xx and Japanese Breakfast are all playing for anyone with an ear for alternative. Panorama has one of the strongest lineups of the summer.

Red Bull Music Festival (May 3-25)

Red Bull Music Festival is incredibly unique, as it’s a month-long fest based in New York City. Events are held throughout the month that celebrate music, visual art and culture. Red Bull focuses on emerging underground artists much more than other fests, and that’s to their benefit. Free jazz/rap group Standing On The Corner is part of a concert with NYC rappers like MIKE and Wiki on May 3. Conceptual and visual artist Rammellzee has an art opening the following day, and on May 5 there’s a moderated conversation with artist and activist Harry Belafonte. Other highlights throughout the month include Fever Ray, Oneohtrix Point Never, Rico Nasty and serpentwithfeet. Red Bull has an incredibly unique set up, so for anyone looking to explore New York and where art and music intersect, it might be worth checking out.

Firefly Fest (June 14-17)

Delaware is pretty small state, but once a year they host one of the biggest music fests in the country, Firefly. Like Panorama, Firefly has a lineup that encompasses all types of artists, from underground to major acts. Legendary rappers like Lil Wayne and Top Dawg Entertainment’s (TDE) Kendrick Lamar will be hitting the main stage over the weekend. Fellow TDE signee SZA is leading the way for R&B at Firefly, with a lineup that does seem a bit light in the genre. Huge acts like Arctic Monkeys and MGMT will be sure to attract massive crowds, but if you want to find more lowkey artists, Amen Dunes and Chase Atlantic may help you beat the big crowds. The wide range of artists is what makes Firefly one of the best.

Roots Picnic (June 2)

You may only know The Roots as the band on The Tonight Show, but the Philadelphia hip-hop band is also comprised of legends of the rap game. The group has built a large family of frequent collaborators and friends over the years through all the albums and projects they’ve worked on, as well as incredibly loyal fans. Once a year they hold a one-day festival in their home city of Philly, and this year’s Roots Picnic is especially stacked. Dirty Projectors and The Diplomats are two popular early-aughts acts, but newer artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Goldlink are also performing. The main event for the evening will be the Roots Jam Session, hosted by legendary comedian Dave Chappelle (who's worth the price of admission himself). The session will include special guests, and with The Roots’ connections that could mean anyone from D’Angelo to Childish Gambino. If you need a good Philly trip to complete your summer, this might be the move to make. 

There are plenty more festivals happening up and down the East Coast, so if these lineups don’t catch your eye don’t be afraid to plan a road trip or two. If they do, get some friends together and enjoy the music fest experience this summer.

Jordan Levy

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