Festival Season’s Second Half: What’s the Best Choice?

Now that it’s the tail end of July, it’s halftime for Festival Season.  Some of the heavy hitters like Coachella and Bonnaroo have come and gone, and other big players like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits are quickly coming up on the horizon.

The unofficial end to Festival Season also seems to come at the end of October, with a few Halloween-themes festivals presenting the perfect opportunity to parade around in your best costume.  With many of these Late Summer and Early Fall events coming up quickly, we wanted to take a quick breather to pause during this halftime to take a look at some of the big upcoming festivals that we think are worth the investment.

Music Midtown – September 15 and 16 in Atlanta, GA

The other big player in Atlanta besides Shaky Knees and Beats is back at the tail end of Summer this year with a fairly strong lineup including some of our favorites like Kendrick Lamar, Portugal. The Man, and Chromeo amongst others.

Taking place in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, the festival is a fairly good value with weekend tickets coming in at around $150.  Given the clout that King Kendrick has earned in recent years, the chance to get close for his performance is almost worth that price tag alone.

Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival – September 22 and 23 in Franklin, TN

Pilgrimage FestivalThis one is one of the newer ones on the list, having only been around for a few years and plopped in the hip Nashville suburb of Franklin.  A big selling point in the past has been that Justin Timberlake has been heavily involved in planning the festival, and went to work as a headliner himself last year.

Pilgrimage features an extremely strong lineup for a mid-tier regional festival, notably boasting a headlining performance from nearby neighbor Jack White.  In addition, there’s also Dave Matthews, Lionel Richie, and Chris Stapleton listed on the top line.

Not only has the festival managed to cram in four great names on the top of the bill, but they’ve straddled a line between exciting the local demographic and being more widely appealing as well.  An extremely tough tightrope to walk, but they’ve done it.

Live on the Green

Live on the Green – August 9 to September 1 in Nashville, TN

This one is a miracle in that actually exists somehow.  Not only is Live on the Green giving fans an amazing lineup with the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, and many other festival staples, it’s also FREE.

That distinction alone puts it as a must-see for us if you’re in the Nashville area.  The big difference with Live on the Green is that it actually takes place over a month or so, with portions happening each Thursday night in August as well as over Labor Day weekend.

We attended one evening of Live on the Green in 2017, mostly just to see one more set of Porgugal. The Man after their legendary performance at This Tent at Bonnaroo last year.  It’s an amazing experience on the front lawn of Nashville’s Public Square Park that somehow crams in a miniature festival in such a small space.  We will certainly be back for a few nights of it again this year and hope to see you there.

2018 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience – October 26 to 28 in New Orleans, LA

Foo Fighters at Voodoo 2017

Aside from the obvious candidates like Lollapalooza and ACL, Voodoo is arguably the largest player in

the second half of Festival Season.  Taking residence in City Park in New Orleans, Voodoo won’t look at all dissimilar to Bonnaroo veterans who are accus

tomed to an otherworldly experience in a large venue.  While it’s a city festival without camping, Voodoo manages to still capture a great festival vibe that many other events find hard to replicate.

Voodoo typically presents a very diverse lineup, and this year continues that tradition.  Headliners include the likes of Mumford & Sons and Childish Gambino, with other undercard highlights including Modest Mouse, Janelle Monáe, Third Eye Blind, and Odesza.

The Roo Bus crew attended Voodoo in 2017, and we largely had an awesome weekend.  Headline sets from LCD Soundsystem and Foo Fighters were a gladiatorial experience, and the spooky vibe of the festival was a perfect Halloween atmosphere.  The big downside, as with any city festival, is that it’ll likely also require hotel reservations.  Take it from us, in New Orleans, those aren’t cheap.  So be prepared to at least double your budget when you look at ticket prices.

Suwannee Hulaween – October 26 to 28 in Live Oak, FL

A crowded swamp at Suwanee – Photo from suwanneehulaween.com

When we attended Voodoo last October, we heard from many other attendees who expressed some regret in not going to Suwannee instead.

The big difference with Suwannee of course is that it is a camping festival that more closely replicates the festival experience that much of us have grown to love at Bonnaroo.  However, instead of a scorching hot farm field, much of the experience in the Florida Panhandle is within a swamp that’s also the perfect setting for a Halloween weekend festival.

The lineup for this year is a bit lackluster in our view, with the dependable but overbooked String Cheese Incident headlining all three nights.  So if you’ve already been to something like Electric Forest, it’ll be tough to find a reason to visit the swamp.  Hopefully this will be made up for some by festival stalwarts like Odesza and STS9, but we suspect that this is a case of the atmosphere outweighing the lineup.

Our Take

If you’re in the area and are pricing is a factor, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Live on the Green.  It almost entirely gifts a miniature festival experience to anyone who takes advantage of it in Downtown Nashville.  We plan on attending and covering it on some of the Thursday nights that it takes place and hope to see you there.

If you’re willing to travel and make the sizable investment, 2018 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is a solid choice this year.  They have one of the better lineups of all of 2018 and perhaps have one of the wildest atmospheres, even if it comes with the drastic cost of booking a place in New Orleans at one of the most crowded times of the year there.

We also highly recommend some of the regional festivals around the Atlanta and Nashville areas, with Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival and Music Midtown being strong choices.  Each have fairly strong lineups, and the ticket prices aren’t too bad either.  If fate points us in either direction, we hope to cover one or both of these as well.

If you do happen to get out to any of these in the second half of Festival Season, do drop us a line and let you know what you thought of it!

Cover photo: Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival

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