Sounds of Summer

2010’s finest music festivals

Tony Libera

If âÄúThe Great Gatsby âÄù has taught us anything, itâÄôs that drugs, a debauched lifestyle and riotous tunes are the three key ingredients to having a phenomenal summer. We canâÄôt help you with the first two pieces of that decadent puzzle, but we can offer some pertinent information when it comes to choosing a musical happening. Here are A&EâÄôs picks for the best and most affordable summer festivals. Pitchfork Music Festival Date: July 16 – 18 Location: Chicago Cost: $40 (one-day pass) PitchforkâÄôs ridiculous, down-to-the-tenth rating system continues to irk the sane, but their notable anal retentiveness makes for one finely arranged festival. This yearâÄôs biggest draw is undoubtedly Pavement, whose disbandment a decade ago left indie connoisseurs with a serious case of aural withdrawal. Those who prefer more contemporary indie stylings can look to Wolf Parade , LCD Soundsystem and Modest Mouse for relief, but donâÄôt overlook Girls, whose brand of San Franciscan surf-rock is immaculate in its angst. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Date: June 10 – 13 Location: Manchester, Tenn. Price: $249.50 (four-day pass) Bonnaroo may not be the best choice for the light of wallet, but those willing to shell out will not be disappointed. Nay, theyâÄôll be too busy yelling encore for His Hoviness Jay-Z to notice their empty pockets, too busy laughing at Conan OâÄôBrienâÄôs much-missed self deprecation or his loose Radiohead covers and too busy clutching their melting faces in agony as Jack White burns Manchester to the ground with his guitar. And letâÄôs not forget The Flaming Lips ; does anyone ever get sick of Wayne CoyneâÄôs hamster-ball shenanigans? The answer is no. Lollapalooza Date: August 6 – 8 Location: Chicago Price: $215 (three-day pass) The wonderful, contradictive Lollapalooza persists as a beacon of both anti-establishment rock âÄònâÄô roll and capitalistic fervor. Where else can you watch an increasingly irrelevant Green Day fight the power on a stage paid for by Citigroup ? What a country! Mock outrage aside, Lollapalooza is a strong pick for best festival of the summer because of the monstrous acquisitions of Phoenix , MGMT âÄôs psychedelic incarnation and those Canadian baroque stars Arcade Fire . However, the biggest hubbub surrounds the return of The Strokes , which should be glorious provided they play the hits and not Julian CasablancasâÄô solo fare. 80/35 Date: July 3 – July 4 Location: Des Moines Price: $60 (two-day ticket) With only five bands currently listed (Spoon among them), itâÄôs hard to say if 80/35 will be worthwhile. New acts are announced every Monday and if last yearâÄôs line-up is any indication âÄî The Flaming Lips, The Roots, Andrew Bird and Black Francis âÄî 80/35 may be the sleeper hit of 2010. North By Northeast Date: June 14 – 20 Location: Toronto Price: $25 – $399 (for various combo packs) Admittedly, North by Northeast rocking involves an international hike and no small amount of vaudevillian Mountie-duping, but the promise of Iggy Pop is more than enough reason to head to Toronto. At 63, PopâÄôs onstage antics continue to baffle medical doctors and defy spatial reasoning, while his music retains the ferocity of a lost age. North By Northeast will also play host to garage rockers Japandroids , the much-hyped Surfer Blood and Les Savy Fav , whose live shows are sublime for those who like frenetic rock delivered by a fat, bald, bearded man in short shorts âÄî and who doesnâÄôt, really? Plus, drugs are cheaper in Canada; gotta love that exchange rate. Summerfest Date: June 24 – July 4 Location: Milwaukee Price: $8 – $15 Summerfest is appealing this year for a couple of reasons: ItâÄôs the most economically friendly, it features some great acts, both classic and contemporary and, with MinnesotaâÄôs own 10KLF Festival on hiatus, itâÄôs the closest thing to Minneapolis with any merit. Or perhaps you just donâÄôt give a damn about any of these other lame hipster festivals, but donâÄôt want to deal with WE Fest for another year. Well, my hateful friend, this is the place for you. The Roots , Modest Mouse, and The Hold Steady are perhaps the most noteworthy acts for the indie crowd, while Eric Clapton , Rush and Tom Petty beckon to KQ92 listeners. Clear Channel fans, youâÄôre set with Tim McGraw , Usher and Carrie Underwood . Yep, Summerfest has something for every broadly defined demographic.