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Festivalist ’15: Early 2015 Music Festival Outlook

roo_lineupThe January release of Coachella’s 2015 line-up set off a domino effect for music fest organizers to get their wares out sooner than expected. Coachella only set loose their 2015 poster two days earlier than 2014, but I don’t recall the wave of line-up releases coming this fast and furious last year. The lack of a major reunion (see: OutKast, The Replacements in 2014) or surprise big new albums (see Jack White, Phoenix) certainly made 2015’s crop feel less than exciting, but there are still plenty of diverse options for music fans.

I haven’t decided if I’ll attend a fest this year (#gradschoolproblems), but I wouldn’t be opposed to my first Forecastle Fest in Louisville, KY (1/27 announcement!).

Below is a run down of the plentiful options and head to the experts at Festival Snobs for more news and analysis:

April 10-12 & 17-19 – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – Indio, CA (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: AC/DC, Jack White, Drake
Undercard: Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alabama Shakes, The Weeknd, Alt J, Ratatat, Hozier, Florence & The Machine, Ryan Adams, David Guetta, Run The Jewels, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah & more
Hopefully, you already have your tickets because both weekends of Coachella are sold out! Organizers kicked things off with headliners that surprised (Drake), underwhelmed (AC DC) and felt right (Jack White). However, the undercard was very appealing (as usual) with acts that couldn’t make it in 2014 (Interpol, Alabama Shakes, Alt J), bring nostalgia (Steely Dan, Ratatat, Rae & Ghost) and come with new albums (Florence, Toro y Moi, Tame Impala). Expect newcomers like Ryn Weaver, Benjamin Booker and Clean Bandit to make an instant impression. Where does it rank to past Coachella lineups? There isn’t a jawdropping reunion like Dre & Snoop, OutKast or Gorillaz, but the weekends still look stacked to me.

April 24-26 & April 30 – May 3 – New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – New Orleans, LA (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: Elton John, The Who, Jimmy Buffet, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, No Doubt, Keith Urban, Pitbull, John Legend, & Ed Sheeran
Undercard: T.I., Widespread Panic, Dr. John, Juvenile & Mannie Fresh, Hozier, Trombone Shorty, The Meters, Sturgill Simpson, Jimmy Cliff & more
Jazz Fest stays as eclectic as ever with legends (Elton John, The Who, No Doubt), surprises (Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Jimmy Buffet) and the only line-up where you’ll could see Pitbull and Dr. John on the same weekend. Acts covering hip-hop (T.I., Juvenile & Mannie Fresh), jam/rock (Widespread Panic, Shovels & Rope, Hozier) and local heroes (Trombone Shorty, The Meters, Dumpstaphunk) also get their due. Jazz Fest doesn’t mirror line-ups both weekends, so you truly have all of these options unless you’re there for more than a week, but its good to have options.

May 8-9 – Big Guava Festival – Tampa, FL (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: The Strokes, Pixies, Hozier
Undercard: Passion Pit, Ryan Adams, TV On The Radio, James Blake, Cold War Kids, Banks, Run The Jewels, Jenny Lewis, Death From Above 1979, Action Bronson, Paper Route & more
Tampa-based Big Guava is one of the newer kids on the festival block and back for a second year with an impressive get in The Strokes for a headliner. The 2 day festival went for quality over quantity with Pixies and Hozier to round out the headliners and quality indie/hip-hop acts with Passion Pit, TV On The Radio, James Blake, Run The Jewels, Action Bronson and Death From Above 1979. Not too shabby for a budding go-to Florida fest that could fill the void of DeLuna Fest and has more acts to announce.

May 8-10 – Shaky Knees Festival – Atlanta, GA (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: The Strokes, The Avett Brothers, Wilco
Undercard: Pixies, Social Distortion, Ryan Adams, James Blake, Noel Gallagher, Brand New, Tame Impala, Neutral Milk Hotel, Interpol, TV on The Radio, Death From Above 1979, Kaiser Chiefs, Panda Bear, The Black Lips, Best Coast, Surfer Blood, Heartless Bastards & more
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tim Sweetwood and the rest of the Shaky Knees know their brand well. The third year of Shaky Knees is all about guitars and is my pick for best line-up of the early festival season. The niche list of indie, punk and rock acts scooped up just about everyone a rock fan could hope for with The Strokes leading the way, alongside other nostalgic names like Interpol, Pixies, Neutral Milk Hotel and Wilco. More current favorites like Tame Impala, TV On The Radio, Heartless Bastards and James Blake round out a list that made me blink to be sure I wasn’t imagining all of those great names. Bonus points for getting The Bronx and Mariachi El Bronx. Combine the solid acts with a new location that is more accessible by MARTA, the Beltline, etc., this could be the best Shaky Knees yet. Bravo.

May 15-17 – Hangout Music Festival – Gulf Shores, AL (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Zac Brown Band, Beck, Skrillex
Undercard: My Morning Jacket, Foster The People, Paramore, Spoon, Umphrey’s McGee, Major Lazer, TV On The Radio, Phantogram, Jenny Lewis, Lupe Fiasco, Cold War Kids, Future Islands, Vance Joy, Odesza, Father John Misty, St. Lucia, ODESZA, Galactic w/Macy Gray, Toro Y Moi, Preservation Hall Jazz Band & more
You are forgiven if you blinked when you saw Hangout’s 2015 headliners: 3 out of 4 have played the festival before. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is a barometer of the lack of big names for fest bookers to choose from. Aside from the headliners, I actually like the variety Hangout chose that covers indie (Future Islands, Father John Misty, St. Lucia, The Lone Bellow), rock (MMJ, Spoon, TV On The Radio), and electronic (Major Lazer, ODESZA, Gramatik). The hip-hop is still lacking (only Lupe), but I don’t expect it at Hangout. Still the best destination for a festival in the US, 2015 would be another great weekend on the beaches of Gulf Shores, AL.

May 22-24 – Boston Calling Music Festival – Boston, MA (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: Beck, Pixies, My Morning Jacket
Undercard: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Jason Isbell, Tenacious D, Tame Impala, St. Vincent, TV On The Radio, Marina and The Diamonds, Run The Jewels, Jason Isbell, Chet Faker, Tove Lo & more
Now that Boston Calling is split between Spring and Fall festivals, Boston music fans get a double dose of great music. I’ve heard the venue isn’t the greatest place to spend a weekend, but I was impressed with this lineup. Much like Big Guava, rockers like Pixies, MMJ, Tame Impala and TV On The Radio balance rising indie acts like The Lone Bellow, Chet Faker and Vance Joy. Boston Calling also can boast four acts I’d call must-sees: MMJ, St. Vincent, Tame Impala and Run The Jewels.

June 5-7 –Governor’s Ball Music Festival – New York City, NY (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: Drake, The Black Keys, Deadmau5, My Morning Jacket & Bjork
Undercard: Ryan Adams, Flume, Chromeo, Tame Impala, St. Vincent, Ratatat, A-Trak, Death From Above 1979, The War On Drugs, Twin Shadow, Kaytranada, Hot Chip
The rising NY-based festival is doing an excellent job if they are looking to claim “Coachella East” status. The surprise of Drake as a major festival headliner was dulled post-Coachella announcement, but still shows how much he’s ascended. Gov’s Ball had arguably the best headliner list last year with OutKast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend and The Strokes, but Black Keys, MMJ and Bjork are nothing to sneeze at. Acts like Ratatat, Tame Impala and Ryan Adams will play both coasts, but good gets no matter where they play. St. Vincent, A-Trak, Flume and Death From Above 1979 make for strong selections and booking both SBTRKT and Flying Lotus demand some shared sets. Surprises like Weird Al, People Under The Stairs and Conor Oberst keep this festival interesting.

June 11-14 – Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN (Spotify Playlist)
Headliners: Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, Deadmau5
Undercard: Kendrick Lamar, Slayer, Atomic Bomb: The Music of William Onyeabo ft David Byrne + Special Guests, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Bassnectar, Alabama Shakes, Ben Folds, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Florence + The Machine, Flying Lotus, My Morning Jacket, Robert Plant, Spoon, Childish Gambino, Run The Jewels, Flume, Gary Clark Jr, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Tears For Fears, Twenty One Pilots, Ryn Weaver
I’m sure this lineup isn’t what original attendees of Bonnaroo would have envisioned, but you have to love the diversity. 4 days on the farm will get you legends (Billy Joel, Slayer, David Byrne, Tears For Fears, Robert Plant), headliners at other fests (My Morning Jacket, Bassnectar, Kendrick Lamar), hip-hop (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Run The Jewels, Childish Gambino, Dej Loaf), electronic (Deadmau5, Flume, SBTRKT), everybody else (Mumford, Florence, Hozier, Ben Folds, AL Shakes) and a TBD Superjam. There will always be people that complain, but if you can’t have fun with that list of artists, you’re doing it wrong.

What’s your favorite line-up so far? What festival will you attend in 2015?