Think Outside the Boom Box: The good, the bad, and the pricey

Music columnist Patrick McKenna on 2014’s upcoming music fests

By Patrick McKenna | April 1, 2014

Tags: Festivals Music

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Grand news, boys and girls: it’s about that time of the year.

In the coming months, the anxiety-ridden anticipation will finally be over, and music festival season will be in full swing. No other environment holds more sweaty, exhausted teenagers who seem to only know one phrase: “This is the greatest weekend of my life.”

It’s no shocker that music festivals have become an imperative element of any music lover’s summer. Speaking as a two-time Lollapalooza-goer, I can attest that with the right lineup and adequate level of hydration, music fests are easily the highlight of every year.

And in most cases, the fests are worth the dough they demand. The diversity of bands that land themselves at the most eclectic of fests, such as Lolla and Bonnaroo, is a prime reason to drop upwards of $200 on these weekend bonanzas. (Example number one: transitioning from Queens of the Stone Age to Lana Del Rey on the Friday of Lollapalooza 2013).

In economic terms, if I did the math and divided the number of shows I saw by the overall price, I would have seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers fifteen rows out for about $18. That would be the definition of a steal. Below, I have scrutinized a few of the upcoming fests that, depending on your musical taste, have the potential to (financially) make or break your summer vacation:

Coachella Grade: B

Dates: April 11-13 and 18-20 Location: Indio, California Price for the weekend: $375 Headliners: The Replacements, Arcade Fire, Outkast

The only reason this fest holds a B grading is the already sold-out weekend passes are a whopping $375, on top of the most likely very expensive plane ticket needed by most attendees.

The lineup of outstanding groups touring for the first time since breaking up or touring for the first time since receiving critical acclaim is what makes this festival well worth the money. If only music fanatics received grants from the government for summer fests... We should look into that.

Bonnaroo Grade: A-

Dates: June 12-15 Location: Manchester, Tennessee Price of a general admission ticket: $284 Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White

Despite the distance from most Midwest-oriented MU students, this lineup is impeccable.

With a legendary Englishman taking the main headlining stage for a second consecutive year (Paul McCartney performed last year), Bonnaroo holds not only a phenomenal lineup, but also a unbelievable experience. Plus, the fest is John’s first U.S. festival ever in his 50-year career.

Between camping under the stars and music wafting through your sleeping bag, this festival is unlike any other in its massive likelihood for fun.

Lollapalooza Grade: D

Dates: August 1-3 Location: Chicago, Illinois Price for a regular 3-day pass: $250 Headliners: Eminem, Skrillex, Outkast

To put it blatantly, Lollapalooza’s 2014 lineup failed immensely. What was once the sole alternative-anything fest that hosted some of the biggest bands of the ’90s has become a full-fledged money-grabber, overrun by mediocre indie-pop and electronic music.

Honestly, a festival that once hosted nearly exclusively rock bands now will have somewhere around 10 rock ‘n’ rollers out of more than 100 acts.

Shame on you, Perry Farrell, shame on you.

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