A Guide to the Best American Music Festivals in 2019

Image result for A Guide to the Best American Music Festivals in 2019Hands up if you’re ready to spend $12 on domestic beer and watch all your favorite bands perform on the same patch of ground. With Coachella behind us, it’s officially festival season, which means it’s time to pull out your calendars, checkbooks and sunblock and figure out which fest is best for you. We’re hoping to make that decision a little easier with this nifty guide breaking down some of the summer’s most delightful (or at least most intriguing) lineups. We’ve included all the info you need to know—date, location and the most exciting acts on the poster—and organized it all by region, so you can plan a road trip to a festival nearby if a flight to Tennessee for another year of ‘Roo isn’t in the cards. We’ve done our best to include festivals that are diverse in terms of genre, gender and geography, so we hope whether you’re a folk fan from San Francisco or a rock fan from Rochester there’s something here for you.

NORTHEAST

Boston Calling
Location: Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston, Mass.
Dates: May 24-26
Highlights: Tame Impala, Travis Scott, Chvrches, Christine and the Queens, Mitski, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Snail Mail, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Boston Calling is not only a destination for music, but also food, comedy and drink. The festival hits it out of the park on the music side this year, featuring an array of hip hop, rock and pop acts, but it also has a respectable comedy lineup including Fred Armisen, Jenny Slate and more. —Ellen Johnson

Governors Ball
Location: Randall’s Island Park, New York, N.Y.
Dates: May 31-June 2
Highlights: Tyler, the Creator, Lil Wayne, Brockhampton, Jorja Smith, Mitski, The Internet, Kacey Musgraves, Florence + the Machine, Major Lazer, Soccer Mommy, Sunflower Bean, SZA
For nearly a decade now, artists and music lovers alike have flocked to Randall’s Island, nestled in the East River between Manhattan and the Bronx and Queens, for the Governors Ball. Music isn’t the only attraction here, as Gov Ball features art and activities, even including a life-size board game in past years. The festival highlights some of NYC’s favorite food and strangest culinary mashups (this year one of the Franken-foods is the “Doughnug Slider,” a chicken nugget nestled between two mini doughnuts). But the fun doesn’t end once you step off Randall’s Island: Governors Ball After Dark shows bring acts like U.S. Girls, Kaytranada and Noname to some of the Big Apple’s most beloved venues. —Clare Martin

Welcome Campers
Location: Camp Lenox, Otis, Mass.
Dates: May 25-27
Highlights: Torres, Liza Anne, Half Waif, Henry Jamison, Wet
Have you ever wished you could go back to summer camp as a grownup? Finally, you can, and instead of “Kum Ba Ya” and tent-pitching, there’s live music and booze. Welcome Campers, the all-inclusive fest hosted annually by music discovery site The Wild Honey Pie, seeks to bring out the “kid in all of us” by bringing music fans together for a weekend of fun outdoor activities (i.e. campfires, dance parties and swimming) and performances by independent artists. —Ellen Johnson

Woodstock 50
Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Dates: Aug. 16-18
Highlights: The Raconteurs, Run the Jewels, Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, Chance the Rapper, Sturgill Simpson, Gary Clark. Jr., Margo Price, Courtney Barnett, Soccer Mommy, Jay-Z, Janelle Monáe
Fifty years after Woodstock was held during the summer of 1969—a transformative year for music—the original festival’s co-founder Michael Lang is bringing it back to New York with one of the year’s weirdest bills. The lineup, which includes both modern behemoths and legacy artists, some of whom played the original fest, is quite the mixed bag. Miley Cyrus, Santana and Run the Jewels? Dead & Co., Soccer Mommy, Greta Van Fleet and Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, of all people? Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons and…boygenius? It’s odd to say the least, but in a way it perfectly captures so many aspects of our music moment. Maybe—just maybe—Woodstock will be the healing festival we didn’t know we needed. That is, if it still happens: after tickets didn’t go on sale on time, rumors of cancellation began circulating, per Entertainment Weekly. Stay tuned for updates. —Ellen Johnson

EAST COAST

Newport Folk Fest
Location: Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I.
Dates: July 26-28
Highlights: Jeff Tweedy, Kacey Musgraves, Courtney Marie Andrews, Lucy Dacus, Mountain Man, Sheryl Crow, Dawes, Gregory Alan Isakov
The iconic festival platform for folk and folk-adjacent (whatever that means these days) acts returns to Fort Adams State Park for its 61st year in 2019, this time welcoming a broader spectrum of sounds than ever before. Big names include country’s hardest working road warrior Kacey Musgraves, Wilco patriarch Jeff Tweedy and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, but keep checking the website as more additions to the lineup are announced. Newport is also the place to check out newer faces like Adia Victoria, Black Belt Eagle Scout and Yola, plus Paste favorites like Lucy Dacus, Mountain Man and Haley Heynderickx. —Ellen Johnson

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