While most people usually think of music festivals as a summertime diversion, a look at the calendar reveals September to be the month most dense with events. It makes sense, though, when you think about it. It’s not so hot as to be miserable, yet still warm, making for the perfect climate to watch bands out of doors. As such, I for one am all for the post-summer weekend getaway, and here’s the best options as I see it.
FYF Fest, Los Angeles, September 1–2
Originally begun as the Fuck Yeah Fest at the 700-person capacity Echoplex, the rechristened FYF Fest now brings thousands each year to the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Scheduled to play this weekend are more than 70 performers, including the Chromatics, Cloud Nothings, Redd Kross, Nite Jewel, and comedians like David Cross and Neil Hamburger. Co-headlining Saturday are the Refused and M83, while Beirut and The Faint, who recently got back together, top off Sunday. Tickets for the weekend are $89, but you can get VIP tix and the comforts of exclusive food trucks and private toilets for another $100. For more info, check out the FYF website.
Bumbershoot, Seattle, September 1–3
In existence since 1971, Bumbershoot is one of the oldest and largest music festivals in the country. As such, its line-up is suitably eclectic. This year includes performers ranging from the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra to Ty Segall and from Tony Bennett to The Vaselines. There will also be comedians like Fred Armisen and Brian Posehen, while John Waters will be on the Performing Arts Stage and Ken Jennings will be at the Words & Ideas Stage. There will also be movies shown at the 1 Reel Film Festival. Three-day passes can still be had for $135. To purchase tickets and get more info, go to the Bumbershoot website.
MusicfestNW, Portland, September 5–9
If you’re heading out to Bumbershoot, you might as well as head down to Portland and catch MusicfestNW, which begins two days later. Like SXSW (though there is no direct relation between the two), the MFNW line-up is distributed amongst the city’s clubs, while there will be outdoor shows held in Pioneer Square Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This year’s fest includes The Hives, Swans, Fucked Up, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Crystal Antlers, among many others. There is a variety of ticket options available, with the cheapest being $75 for a wristband that gets you into any of the clubs participating in the fest and a ticket to one of the outdoor shows. Get more information at the MFNW website.
Hopscotch Music Festival, Raleigh, September 6–8
Like MFNW, Raleigh’s Hopscotch festival is spread out amongst the city’s clubs. However, Hopscotch’s line-up is a little more adventurous, with the schedule including Holograms, Mark McGuire, Julia Holter, Liars, Papa M, Corrosion of Conformity, and Whatever Brains. On the weekend, there will be larger, outdoor shows, with The Jesus and Mary Chain headlining Friday and The Roots taking top billing Saturday. A three-day all-show writstband will run you $110, while one-day passes and tickets to just the outdoor shows can also be purchased. Check out the Hopscotch website for all the details.
Riot Fest Chicago, Chicago, September 14–16
While Riot Fest is also putting on events in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Toronto, their signature festival still takes the cake. This year’s three-day punk-leaning fest will include performances from Iggy and the Stooges, Elvis Costello, the Descendents, The Jesus and Mary Chain, GWAR, and many more. Those buying three-day passes will also be able to get into the after-party shows, which this year include Naked Raygun playing at the Subterranean and The Adicts and The Dickies playing at the Congress Theater with NOFX (yuck) and The Casualties. Unfortunately, those three-day passes are sold out, but there are still a variety of tickets available. For more info, go to the Riot Fest site.
Pop Montreal, Montreal, September 19–23
Pop Montreal Festival International de Musique may not be the biggest festival, but it’s still a favorite. The festival’s line-up always skews a little Canadian; this year will include hometown artists Grimes and Purity Ring and Edmonton hip-hopper Cadence Weapon, as well as bigger names like Hot Snakes, and David Byrne and St. Vincent. Half the fun of Pop Montreal, though, is attempting to speak French with the locals, drinking Canadian beer, and eating poutine late at night. To purchase tickets and get more information on the festival, allez to the Pop Montreal site.
I’ll Be Your Mirror, New York, September 21–23
Presented by All Tommorrow’s Parties, this year’s I’ll Be Your Mirror festival has been moved from its Asbury Park location to Pier 36 on the East River in Manhattan. The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli has helped curate this year’s line-up, so not only will the Whigs be playing, but also their friends in Scrawl, the Mark Lanegan Band, and Joseph Arthur. Other highlights include Chavez, The Dirtbombs, Emeralds, the reunited Make-Up, and the Dirty Three. Three-day passes can still be had for $199, while tickets for individual days are also available. Check out the ATP site for all the details.
DeLuna Fest, Pensacola Beach, September 21–23
Florida has always been a dead zone for touring bands, with the penisula state not worth going out of the way to hit its few metropolises. Fortunately for Floridians then, DeLuna is bringing a slew of artists to Pensacola Beach on the Panhandle this month. While acts like Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters will be the big draw, the diverse line-up also includes Jimmy Cliff, Joan Jett, Superchunk, The Silos, OFF! and Guided By Voices. Three-day passes can still be purchased for about $200. All the information you need is at the DeLuna website.
Pygmalion Music Festival, Champaign-Urbana, September 27–29
The Pygmalion Music Festival, now in its eighth year, has always brought a solid line-up of independent music to the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois, and this year is no different. Among this year’s performers are the Dirty Projectors, Sleigh Bells, Lower Dens, Purling Hiss, and Dinosaur Jr. All the shows take place at just a handful of venues, making the festival easily traversable. Plus at only $100 for a pass, it’s really hard to beat. Get details on tickets and everything else at the festival’s website.
Midpoint Music Festival, Cincinnati, September 27–29
Now in its 11th year, Cincinnati’s Midpoint Music Festival has blossomed from being a largely regional event into a festival of national renown. So while there will still be locals like The Ready Stance and the Fairmount Girls, Midpoint will also be bringing in acts like The Walkmen, Ralph Stanley, Grizzly Bear, Andrew Bird, and Dinosaur Jr. this year. One can still get the All Music Access pass for the low price of $69. To find out more, check out the Midpoint website.
Goner Fest, Memphis, September 27–30
Organized by and named after Goner Records, Goner Fest specializes in the same kind of gritty punk-fueled rock & roll as the label. As such, this is four days of industry-free celebrating. This year’s line-up includes Monsieur Jeffrey Evans, the Oblivians, Nobunny, Slug Guts and The Spits. A golden pass will only cost you $60, leaving plenty of cash left over to be spent on beer, booze and bbq. For the complete schedule of bands and other details, check out the Goner Fest site.
Cropped Out, Louisville, September 28–30
As its name denotes, the Cropped Out music festival has always attempted to spotlight artists shunned by the mainstream. It also adds in a healthy dose of Kentucky flavor, with hometown hero Papa M (a.k.a. David Pajo) headlining Sunday’s closing party this year. You really won’t find a line-up like this one anywhere else, with Slug Guts, Jandek, TV Ghost and Eugene Chadbourne among the acts playing Friday, and R. Stevie Moore, Lil’ B, and Merchandise playing Saturday. For all the details on the festival, check out the Cropped Out website. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the Agit Reader homepage for an upcoming giveaway of passes to the festival.