By Rikki Schneiderman
As festivals continue to diversify, you can find one for you, no matter what your musical tastes may be.
Woodstock. And we aren’t talking about the Peanuts character — we mean 1969 music festival in Bethel, NY. Nearly half a million fans gathered on a 600-acre dairy farm to relax and hear legends like Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, and Grateful Dead.
This party of a lifetime defined the festival standard for generations to come. Even today, many rural areas attempt to recreate the folksy, down-home spectacle of Woodstock with the best of the modern music scene from folk to EDM. A few standouts include Bonnaroo, Burning Man, and Sasquatch! Festival. While Tennessee-based Bonnaroo and Washington’s gorge-inhabiting Sasquatch! stick close to the original layout, Burning Man is unique because it’s held in the Nevada desert rather than a grass field.
While Burning Man strays slightly from Woodstock’s folk roots, some festivals have stretched their legs even farther. Excellent examples include Chicago’s Lollapalooza and California’s two-weekend festival (and now cruise!) Coachella, both held in relatively urban areas. The Voodoo Experience in New Orleans introduces harder rock and alternative music to its indie-folk mix, while New York’s Governors Ball reels in a variety of pop acts. While pop music in particular has become a huge influence for music festivals, folk is slowly seeping more into the mainstream year by year. Powerhouse folk-pop acts such as Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers are highlighting a string of U.S. festivals this year, showcasing folk’s newfound role as a successful competitor against the usual Top 40.
Along with the pop-folk fusion, the music world cannot ignore the nonstop rise of EDM. This highly technical genre attracts incredible crowds for festivals, surprising when you consider not that much happens musically at these shows – besides the wild energy produced by synthesizers and that fateful “bass drop,” of course. EDM festivals held both abroad and in the states are growing more and more popular every year. Last year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas recorded a staggering 320,000 attendees and brought in $207 million of revenue to the area, earning it the title of America’s largest music festival.
At any festival, no matter the genre, you’ll be in good company. And a lot of company, at that: Bonnaroo boasted a crowd of 80,000 in 2012, while Lollapalooza nearly broke 100,000. Whether you’re into folk, jazz, rock, pop or dance, there’s a festival out there for everyone.