While admittedly two of the biggest music events (South By Southwest and Coachella) have already come and gone, it is not until May that the festival season begins in earnest. As such, this week we are kicking off a new regular Rumpus feature: the monthly festival guide. At the beginning of each month until October, we will help you chart your summer agenda by looking at the upcoming events on the calendar. While this may make one pine for the days of having three months to do nothing but seek out fun, we hope that you’ll be able to find at least a weekend for a musical getaway.
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Brooklyn, May 3–5
Curated by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry will bring together a nice cross-section of bands for three consecutive nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Tomorrow night’s performers include Twin Shadow, Sharon Van Etten, and The Walkmen, while Friday is highlighted by Sinkane, The Antlers and St. Vincent, and Saturday’s bill includes Atlas Sound, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Beirut. In addition to the live music, each evening will feature commissioned short films with original scores, and on Friday and Saturday there will be DJs to end the night. While three-day passes and tickets for Saturday are already sold out, tickets for Thursday and Friday are still available via the fest’s website.
Blackout Fest, Chicago, May 17–20
After going on hiatus for five years, Hozac Records’ Blackout Fest was resurrected last year. After kicking off with an art show that will also include performances by the Mentally Ill and Cemetery, the Chicago-based event really gets going Friday night, with Hozac mainstays like Davila 666 and Rayon Beach joined by Texan punks Video, among others. But things only get better. Saturday includes the legendary Redd Kross performing their first two records, their self-titled EP and Born Innocent, in their entirety, as well as Homostupids, Fungi Girls, and White Mystery. Sunday psych legend Roky Erickson will take the stage, preceded by space-punk wackos Human Eye. While the art show will take place at the Bottom Lounge’s Volcano Room, the rest of the shindig will be held at the Empty Bottle. For more info and links to purchase tickets, head to the Blackout webpage.
Nelsonville Music Festival, Nelsonville, May 18–20
Unless you are a fan of Rocky Boots or live in the southeast portion of the Buckeye State, you probably have no idea where Nelsonville, Ohio is. But that may soon change, as this three-day festival seems determined to put the small town on the map. Set in the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio, the event has blossomed into something special. This year performers will include Iron and Wine, Andrew Bird and Michael Hurley. But lest you think this another gathering of nouveau folk, the bill also includes Black Bananas, Kurt Vile and the Violators, the Lee Renaldo Band, and—like the Blackout Fest—Roky Erickson. And at only $80 for all three days, it’s quite a bargain. (A pass to camp is only $15 more.) For all the details, head to the NMF website.
Maryland Deathfest, Baltimore, May 24–27
Just as common as the “all things for all people” fest concept is the other end of the spectrum: the highly specialized event. The Maryland Deathfest takes that idea to the nth degree. It is the premier showcase for the darkened variety of heavy metal known as death metal. For the tenth year in a row, the Baltimore-based event will attract bands from around the world and their respective legions of followers to bang their heads for four days straight. With two outdoor stages and one indoor stage, the festival will feature more than 50 acts, including Absu, Unsane, Napalm Death, Rwake, and Saint Vitus. For all the details and to purchase tickets, get thee to the MDF site.
Sasquatch Music Festival, Quincy, May 25–28
The Sasquatch Music Festival may have grown to a size worthy of its moniker, but there’s no denying the appeal of its setting. Held at The Gorge Amphitheatre located on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington state, no other festival can match Sasquatch’s natural environ. Like past years, the line-up is stacked, including The Roots, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Beck, Zola Jesus, Jack White, Dum Dum Girls, The Shins... and the list goes on and on. For the bill, you can check the Sasquatch website. Unfortunately, tickets are sold out, but then that’s what Stubhub and Craigslist are for.
Movement Electronic Music Festival, Detroit, May 26–28
Another specialized festival, Movement capitalizes on Detroit’s landmark position in the evolution of electronic music. Nonetheless, that is a wide area of specialization. Begun in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, this year’s event will include luminaries like Juan Atkins and Lil’ Louis, hip-hop lynchpins Public Enemy, and a swath of contemporary artists ranging from Lindstrøm to SBTRKT. Better yet a three-day pass is only $80. For more info and to purchase tickets, check out the Movement website.
Soundset, Shakopee, May 27
Organized by stalwart hip-hop label Rhymesayers, the Soundset Festival is now in its fifth year. Held in Rhymesayers’ Minnesota backyard, the event may only take place for one day, but it is still stacked to the gills with talent. This year performers will include Atmosphere, Lupe Fiasco, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, and Aesop Rock. In addition to the three stages of music, there will also be breakdancing, skateboarding, a graffiti exhibition, and a custom car show. In other words, something for everyone. For the complete lowdown, check out the Soundset website.
Chaos in Tejas, Austin, May 31–June 3
Begun eight years ago, Chaos in Tejas has always had something of a punk and metal focus, but as it’s expanded and continued to redefine itself, its’s grown more and more eclectic through the years. So this year, not only will there be acts like Municipal Waste and Iceage, but also The Clean, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, and No Age. Like a mini SXSW, the shows will be spread out over four days and in a handful of Austin’s clubs. For all the details on the where and when, as well as to purchase tickets, go to the Chaos in Tejas website.
Huichica Music Festival, Sonoma, June 1–2
With foodie culture and youth culture having intersected, it wasn’t going to be too long before food (and I’m not talking about corn dogs here) and music eventually mingled in a festival setting. But we probably couldn’t anticipate that both sides of the equation would be represented so well. The initial incarnation of Huichica will be held at the Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma and will begin with a Farm to Barrel to Table to Amplifier Dinner, during which Chad Harris of The Fremont Diner will serve a three-course meal complimented by sustainably farmed wines from Gundlach Bundschu. The rest of the weekend, there will be wine tastings accompanied by artisanal cheeses and charcuterie and a Food City of local food carts. As for the music, the line-up is highlighted by the recently reunited Beachwood Sparks, Sonny and the Sunsets, and a DJ set from Vetiver’s Andy Cabic. For the info on the whole shebang, take a look at the Huichica website.