July Festival Guide
by Stephen Slaybaugh

Summer is officially here, and with it, some of the year’s biggest events, so time to cash in some of those vacation days. This month, though, it looks like the best place to be is right here in the Agit homebase of New York City.

CBGB Festival, New York, July 5–8
It’s been nearly six years since CBGB closed up shop on the Bowery, but the venue has not been forgotten. As ground zero for punk in New York, the club’s memory still looms large. For the first time, the venue’s legacy will be celebrated with a four-day festival of music and related films, as well as a spirits festival with artisan distillers. But rather than sticking to the Lower East Side vicinity that CBGB once occupied, the event will also take over Central Park’s Summerstage and Times Square. Similarly, while there will be bands that actually played CBGB’s small stage (Agnostic Front, D Generation, The Dead Boys’ Cheetah Chrome, David Johansen), there is also plenty of new blood (Cloud Nothings, The Men). All sorts of passes are available, including Music Showcases passes for just $79, or you can try to win one from us. Find out more on the CBGB website.

Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, July 13–15
There’s no accounting for what the Pitchfork editorial staff may or may not like (some recent Best New Music picks seem way off), but whoever is in charge of putting together their annual music fest has done a consistently great job. Moreover, the fest is always reasonably priced. At this point, only single-day tickets are available for Saturday, but that still means you get to see Chromatics, Wild Flag and Grimes. Still, Friday and, with Chavez, Iceage and Milk Music, Sunday, in particular, look pretty good, so you may want to try to secure a three-day pass however you can. Plus there’s a record fair, a poster show, and art installations. Get all the details on the Pitchfork Festival site.

Forecastle Festival, Louisville, July 13–15
This year Louisville, Kentucky’s Forecastle Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary. In addition to native sons My Morning Jacket, performers include Wilco, Washed Out, Neko Case, and Lower Dens. In addition to the music, there will be environmental symposiums and a bourbon lodge where attendees can sample some of Kentucky’s greatest export. You can also feel good that with Forecastle being a member of 1% for the Planet, not all your money is going into the pockets of greedy promoters. To learn more, see the complete line-up and purchase tickets, head to the Forecastle website.

4Knots Music Festival, New York, July 14
While I always dug the concept of The Village Voice’s Siren Festival (music combined with the ocean, rides and freak show of Coney Island), in practice that event was never as enjoyable as I hoped due to huge crowds and, often, sweltering heat. As such, it’s probably best that the onetime alt-weekly (you’d have to call it a corp-weekly or something these days) has scaled back its summer event to a one-day, one-stage shindig at the South Street Seaport. This year the bill is highlighted by the reunited Archers of Loaf and Bleached. It’s also free, which is always a good thing. There is also an “after-party” at the adjacent Beekman Beer Garden, which isn’t free, but includes the Black Lips and Kid Congo Powers. For more info, go to the 4Knots site.

Riot Fest East, Philadelphia, July 19
Since 2005, Riot Fest has been throwing a largely punk-focused shindig in Chicago with great success, and this year’s event in September looks better than ever. This year, though, the riot has also expanded into new locales: Dallas, Brooklyn, Toronto, and for Riot Fest East, Philadelphia. Taking place, appropriately enough, at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, the line-up is highlighted by the reunited Refused, as well as OFF! and the also reunited Promise Ring, which ain’t bad for $30. Get all the details and purchase tickets at the Riot Fest website.

Firefly Music Festival, Dover, July 20–22
If you live in New York City, you’ve no doubt seen the posters for the Firefly Festival, which seems odd for an event in Dover, Delaware. Obviously, the marketing machine is in full-effect. That’s understandable when one gets a look at the three-day event’s line-up. With Modest Mouse, The Black Keys, Jack White, and Death Cab for Cutie among the 40-some acts playing, there has to be a pretty hefty investment in this inaugural incarnation. As such, it’s not surprising that a three-day pass will set you back $218. (You can also get a VIP or Super VIP pass, which includes free hot air balloon rides—I’m not kidding—and complimentary massages.) Apparently, single-day tickets are not an option. Check out all the info on the Firefly site.

Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary, July 26–29
Where once the term “folk” conjured hippies singing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” in the 21st century the demarcation takes on a number of connotations. The 33rd edition of the Calgary Folk Music Festival reflects that shift. The list of artists playing this year range from the eclecticism of Jeff Mangum, Iron & Wine, Beirut and Gillian Welch to traditionalists like Mary Chapin Carpenter. Meanwhile, the festival will also include acts like neo-soul crooner Charles Bradley, African rapper Blitz the Ambassador, and soundtrack man Randy Newman that obviously don’t fit under the banner. To see the complete list of the 68 artists playing and get all the details, head to the festival’s website.

Newport Folk Festival, Newport, July 28–29
The Newport Folk Festival is probably just as famous for when artists on its stage have broken from the folk tradition, specifically Bob Dylan in 1965, as for its long lineage of showcasing the genre. In recent years, it has appropriately broadened its definition of “folk” or at least its definition of what’s appropriate for the festival. As such, this year you have Jackson Browne sharing a bill with tUnE-yArDs and Conor Oberst, and the Guthrie family playing with First Aid Kit and My Morning Jacket. While the festival doesn’t officially start until July 28 (I’m not sure what the distinction is), on July 27, Wilco will be playing with Blitzen Trapper and Megafaun. Find out everything you need to know on the Newport website.

Catalpa Festival, New York, July 28–29
Where once big festivals were rare in New York City (who needed them when there was a good band playing every night of the week?), the city is now abundant with big events. The newly launched Catalpa Festival will be taking over Randall’s Island for a weekend and looks to be all things to all people, both in terms of music and diversions. Musically, it features bands of all shapes and sizes: Black Keys, TV on the Radio, Zola Jesus, Snoop Dogg, Matisyahu, etc. It will also feature the Arcadia Spectacular’s Afterburner (the thing pictured), a firebellowing sculpture made out of military scrap metal, for the pyros, Frisky’s Church of Sham marriages for anyone looking to get hitched, a High Times–sponsored reggae tent for the stoners, and A Taste of New York for the foodies. Get all the details at the Catalpa website.