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Summer Concert Stakeout

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Get your sunblock, your cutest strappy sandals, and your vocal cords ready. The summer concert season is upon us. It’s time to be a music junkie and devote the next four months to imbibing as much live music across the country as possible. Whether you fancy rap, hip hop, country, blues, alternative, or unclassifiable music (ahem—Bjork), there’s an opportunity for you to get a space of grass and enjoy amazing musical performance under the sun and stars this summer.

As a summer music fanatic, I’ve gathered information on several of the ultimate music festivals (the ones I think are the best bang for your buck), provided links to tickets, and even listed the celebrities you might see attending each show. To me, there’s no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon (after a long week cooped up in your office) than getting high on life (and other things), basking in the summer sun, and grooving to some great music. It’s a chance to travel to the middle of nowhere (see Bonnaroo Festival) and meet new people—or experience life in the middle of a field where your only privacy is your tent and your only sustenance is the PB&J sammies that the college kids are selling six tents over. It’s a chance for us adults to be irresponsible for an entire weekend—to let our hair down, dance without inhibition, and sing at the top of our lungs.

So go ahead. Use that vacation time you’ve been saving up. Take a three-day weekend and see a live show. Get ready to throw your hands in the air and—you guessed it—wave ‘em like you just don’t care. When winter comes, and you’re back inside a concert hall or small club, you’ll thank me for pushing you to experience grass under your feet, music in your ears, sun on your face, and nothing on your mind but the sweet sound of music.


  • Dates: May 25–28
  • Location: George, Washington, near the Columbia River gorge (WildHorse campsite)
  • Bands: Bjork, Beastie Boys, Blackalicious, Interpol
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service), ex-Real World cast members


Bonnaroo Festival

  • Dates: June 14–17
  • Location: Manchester, Tennessee
  • Bands: The Police, Tool, The White Stripes, Regina Spektor, Ornette Coleman, Franz Ferdinand, The Roots, Hot Chip, Aesop Rock
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Kate Hudson (she can divorce Chris Robinson, but she can’t shake the farm-loving hippie inside her), models on photo shoots for fashion mags, Renee Zellweger (stalking Jack White), ex-Real World cast members


Wakarusa Music Festival 

  • Dates: June 7–10
  • Location: Wakarusa Park, Lawrence, Kansas
  • Bands: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Widespread Panic, Ozomatli, Micheal Franti and Spearhead, Citizen Cope, Son Volt
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Laura Dern (she’s married to Ben Harper), ex-Real World cast members, Brittany Spears (incognito), Michael Moore


Pitchfork Music Festival 

  • Dates: July 13–15
  • Location: Union Park, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bands: Sonic Youth, GZA, Yoko Ono, Cat Power, Girl Talk, De La Soul, The New Pornographers, Snow Patrol
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, Tina Fey, John Cusak, Barak Obama, ex-Real World cast members



  • Dates: August 3–5
  • Location: Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bands: Interpol, My Morning Jacket, Snow Patrol, Pearl Jam, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Oprah and Gayle, ex-Real World cast members


Virgin Festival 

  • Dates: August 4–5
  • Location: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Bands: Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Smashing Pumpkins, The Police, Beastie Boys, LCD Soundsystem, CSS, Matisyahu, Regina Spektor
  • Possible celebrity sightings: A senator or two, Chelsea Clinton, Anderson Cooper, ex-Real World cast members



  • Dates: September 1–3
  • Location: Seattle Center, Seattle, Washington
  • Bands: The Shins, Wu-Tang Clan, DeVotchKa, Crowded House, Lyrics Born
  • Possible celebrity sightings: the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, ex-Real World cast members


Virgin Music Festival

  • Dates: September 8–9
  • Location: Toronto Island Park, Toronto, Ontario
  • Bands: Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, Amy Winehouse, Tokyo Police Club, Interpol, The Killers
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Paris and Nicole, Lindsey Lohan, Olsen Twins, ex-Real World cast members


Austin City Limits Music Festival 

  • Dates: September 14–16
  • Location: Zilker Park, Austin, Texas
  • Bands: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Willie Nelson, Gnarls Barkley, The Flaming Lips, The Shins, John Mayer, Massive Attack
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Matthew McConnaughy, Lance Armstrong, Sheryl Crow, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, ex-Real World cast members




  • Dates: June 22–24
  • Location: Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England
  • Bands: Van Morrison, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Hazlewood, Ray Davies, Paolo Nutini
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Kate Moss (she’s always around where there are skinny, inebriated musicians); Gwyneth Paltrow (even though Coldplay is taking the summer off, Gwynnie has been known to pop her head in and make tea for the musicians); Keira Knightley, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Grant (loves young girls)



  • Dates: August 18–19
  • Location: Hylands Park, Stafforshire, England
  • Bands: The Killers, Foo Fighters, Basement Jaxx, Kanye West, Babyshambles, Snow Patrol
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Kate Moss, the cast of East Enders, Kelly Osborne


Isle of Wight 

  • Dates: June 8–10
  • Location: Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
  • Bands: Snow Patrol, Muse, Groove Armada, Donovan, Rolling Stones, Echo and the Bunnymen
  • Possible celebrity sightings: Kate Moss, The Royals Harry and William, Jude Law, Sienna Miller


Photo courtesy of Tom Morse, 2006 Bonnaroo Music Festival


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