It’s not all about Coachella – here are 10 other US festivals worth considering

Coachella – the land of the bronzed and beautiful, a festival which is as much about wearing a flower crown and arse-munching hotpants as it is who’s actually playing. Not for the likes of us, then – especially seeing as getting there, and then having some fun, won’t just break the bank but smash it into tiny smithereens, rendering you with disastrous credit for the rest of your life. Instead, here are 10 other US festivals that NME loves – and might be slightly more financially friendly, especially seeing as you won’t need to rent out a sick condo in the California desert and spunk all your cash trying to buy drinks for Katy Perry.



Where: The Gorge, Washington


When: May 26-28

What: The hippy one, basically. Sasquatch is named after the legend of Big Foot and takes place in the stunning natural Gorge Amphitheatre in the Pacific Northwest. Lots of people will be wearing plaid shirts and looking like long lost members of Fleet Foxes. Embrace it. Maybe even join in. Last year The Cure and Florence + The Machine played, but there was plenty of dancey stuff too, in the shape of Jamie xx and Grimes.

Punk Rock Bowling


Where: Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada

When: May 26-29

What: The debauched Punk Rock Bowling has taken over Downtown Las Vegas (the best Las Vegas) for the past 19 years, bringing punk bands old and new together for a weekend of bowling and circle pits. This year Iggy Pop is in the headline slot, but Pennywise, Bouncing Souls, The Dickies and Discharge will also be causing mosh mayhem.

Governor’s Ball



Where: Randall’s Island, New York

When: June 2-4

What: Taking place on Randall’s Island, which is just a bridge based stroll away from Harlem in Manhattan, Governor’s Bowl is the closest those metropolitan New York City types get to a weekend in the country. We jest. Kinda. This year Tool, Chance the Rapper and Phoenix are headling, and Lorde, Skepta, Charli XCX, Wu Tang Clan and Warpaint are also on the bill – and then when you’re done every day you can go out partying in NYC. The dream, right?



Where: Manchester, Tennessee

When: June 8-11

What: Also known as the other hippy one. Bonnaroo is famed not just for its excellent line-up but for its serious, sweltering summer heat. Expect to get very sticky indeed. Humidity will be topping the bill every day. Classic acts appear alongside indie up and comers, and there’s always a decent dose of properly good country music too, thanks to the fest’s proximity to Nashville.

Pitchfork Music Festival


Where: Union Park, Chicago

When: July 14-16

What: Chicago is the unofficial king of the US festival scene. They’ve got Pitchfork, Lollapalooza and Riotfest throughout the summer, all good, all different, all bloody cool. Pitchfork is hosted by the music site of the same name, and sees them gathering together their favourite acts in Union Park – think obscure electro, obscure folk, obscure indie and Beach House.

FYF Fest


Where: Exposition Park, Los Angeles

When: July 22-23

What: Hipster heaven – this is where the folk who are too cool for Coachella go, and it’s so good they named it twice; FYF stands for Fuck Yeah Fest, and Fest? That stands for Fest too. It is the PIN number of festivals. FYF Fest usually takes place in August, but this year the Downtown LA event has shifted up a month. In 2016 Kendrick Lamar, Tame Impala and Grace Jones headlined – expect more of the same excellence this summer, maybe even better. And wear something cool, for goodness sake.

Newport Folk Festival


Where: Fort Adams, Rhode Island

When: July 28-30

What: The granddaddy of the US festival scene, the Newport Folk Festival has been going since 1959, making it older than even our very own Glastonbury. It’s where, in 1965, Bob Dylan shocked the folk purists by playing with an electric backing band. Things are a little bit more laid back now, and you don’t get shamelessly booed if you plug in a Fender. Last year Patti Smith, Father John Misty, Margo Price, Graham Nash, Brian Fallon and Alabama Shakes played – showcasing folk, country and Americana old and new.



Where: Grant Park, Chicago

When: August 3-6

What: Basically America’s version of Reading and Leeds. It takes place in a huge park in town, and boasts a thoroughly decent bill year in year out. Last year Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem and Lana Del Rey headlined – and Lady Gaga’s been known to crop up too. Not bad, right? It was started in 1991 as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell and in 2005 took a permanent home in Grant Park, known for it’s bit-of-everything approach, you’ll see rock, pop, dance, metal and EDM acts.

Riot Fest


Where: Douglas Park, Chicago

When: September 15-17

What: There’s a definite punk-vibe to Riot Fest. Last year the original line-up of Misfits reformed for the event, and bands like Rancid, Rise Against and Iggy and regulars on the bill. So if you like your guitars on the heavier side, then this is the festival for you. Also, it won’t be as unbearably hot at Lollapalooza, taking place at the start of autumn – or fall, as those Americans are fond of saying.

Beach Goth


Where: The Observatory, Santa Ana

When: October

What: Hosted by Cali throwback groovers The Growlers, Beach Goth is the small but perfectly formed Orange County event with big names and an even bigger heart. Last year Bon Iver, TLC, Justice, Patti Smith and Ru Paul’s Drag Race all played one of the most eclectic, electric events of the year, hosted by comedian Eric Andre. Fun, fun, fun.