March 7, 2014

Making Things Happen: My Bucket List of Music Festivals. ~ Joni Kalstrup

Music Festival Crowd

We don’t wait for things to happen, we make them happen!

It’s the beginning of March, and the month is coming in like an under-fed, voracious lion. In the safety of shelter, I’m getting cabin fever.

Outside, the temperatures have dipped to their lowest in recorded history. The snow is gorgeous, serene and sparkly, but even this kind of beauty gets old. I long for short-shorts, for tan, bare arms; for walking outside in flip-flops.

As I leave early for work, so early that it’s still dark outside, I gaze up at the starry sky and give thanks to the universe for what is. I hope, as I glance down, that the snow-covered landscape will have been transformed into lush green, with the sounds of nocturnal animals.

Doing everything outside—that’s what I love most about summer. Outside—in a room without a roof…in the middle of the lake listening to the waves clash against the boats…and live music. I love listening to tunes on my car-ride home, windows down and biking to the band shell on Thursday nights to enjoy a few hours of local, raw talent.

This year, I’ve started a list of all the festivals I want to experience.

I read about them, hear about them, and now it’s time, to move outside the comfort-zone of Lollapalooza and go to them.

The US has had a love affair with festivals since Woodstock was experienced in 1969. The stories and the sounds that came out of that festival are legendary. For me, summer festivals are an opportunity to dip my toes into many different genres, to mingle with the energy of the crowd and to enjoy the sublime pleasure of being alive.

It’s about the music, and it’s about the crowd. It’s coexisting in the same space with so many creative souls.

Each year, I hear about more and more festivals, and a few are on my bucket list. I’m making plans now to attend some of them. I’m told I have very eclectic tastes—when you come to my spin class you never know what you’re going to hear. I pick what speaks to my heart.

Here are five reasons to go to a music festival this year:

1. To have a day that flows; to listen to a variety of groups and artists. I like HAIM. I love OutKast. I even have a secret place in my heart for EDM (Electric Dance Music).

2. Hearing songs from the radio, from my home sound system, from the shower; these are great, but nothing compares to being in a crowd that is all there for the same moment, enjoying the music as much as I do.

3. To be with friends! Knowing that life is worth living comes together in those moments: me, my passion, my favorite people, my favorite sounds, and this lovely planet.

4. We only live once. We get the bragging rights to say we were there.

5. Eclectic tastes. It feeds me to see this energy expressed in so many ways. How great to see and hear authentic, true music; to hear all of the differences that we are, when underneath we’re all the same.

Here are a few festivals that are on my list. And even if I can’t attend them all, there are artists whose songs and work I will download, on my music app and YouTube, just to hear what they’re up to.

1. SXSW – South by Southwest, March 7-16, Austin Texas

My Facebook page gets littered with photos from this event and I’m always so envious. It’s known as the best festival in the world for uncovering new raw talent.

It means hopping around bars and venues in Austin, mingling with a mixed group of music fans and music industry people and watching future stars earn their stripes. Last year included HAIM, Tegan & Sara, Macklemore & Ryan, Prince and Paramore. This year features Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and London Grammar. Willie Nelson, Pitbull, Zedd and Mickey Guyton will also be there.

Note: If you can’t make it, there will be an iTunes Festival, featuring five nights of rock, country, pop and hip-hop.

2. Ultra Music Festival, March 28-30, Miami FL

An electronic dance festival (EDM) in Miami might feel like transporting yourself to Ibiza. This is the most famous festival of its kind in North American. This year’s highlights include Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Avicii, David Guetta, Kaskade, Tiesto, and Zedd.

3. Coachella, April 11-13, Indio, CA

Coachella takes place in the middle of the desert, and the headliners are top-notch: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, The Replacements and Skrillex. Secretly, I plan my super cool wardrobe and which bands I need to see at this event.

4. Electric Daisy Festival, May 24-25 (NYC) and June 20-22 (Las Vegas)

Tiesto, Avicii, Calvin Harris…I love the idea of this festival, because it happens between sunset and sunrise and is considered an insane party. (Yes, I would definitely need to nap beforehand.)

5. Sasquatch! Music Festival, May 23-25 and July 4-6, Gorge, WA

Mumford and Sons, The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, and the Lumineers.

6. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, June 12-15, Manchester, TN

Kanye, Lauryn Hill, Skrillex, and the Flaming Lips.
This one sounds the most Woodstocky to me. Held on 700 acres of farmland in Tennessee, there is a diverse line-up of classic and break-out artists from all genres. It’s considered a “hardcore” festival because you camp for four days outside and watch awesome bands in the intense Tennessee heat. The images and the scene they set is other-worldly.

7. Lollapalooza, August 1-3, Chicago, IL

In the middle of the city, “Lolla” always offers a fantastic collage of music. Last year, Shaun White’s start-up band played a side stage, and fans could go up to him directly! Big names TBD this year, but last year included the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and The Postal Service.

8. Canada, August 3-4, Toronto, Canada

Drake announced the line-up of performers at his fifth annual OVO festival, named for the record label he founded, and he’s enlisted himself and newly-reunited OutKast.


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