Exploring the Other Music Festivals
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because getting yourself to the sonic celebration is easier than getting it to come to you.
The popular U.K. music extravaganza now known as Glastonbury almost didn’t happen. The two-day event, originally called Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, was first organized in 1970 by the son of a Methodist preacher and farmer — who, by the way, is anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-drugs — and was inspired by an open-air Led Zeppelin show. But even with tickets at £1 each (which included free milk from the farm), the financial burden and last-minute band cancellations had the farmer wondering if the whole thing should be called off. But it wasn’t, and if you fancy a jaunt to England in a few weeks, you could be watching some of the best bands in world while standing in a farmer’s field. Read more here.
How does Canada sound? You’ve no doubt heard of South by Southwest (SXSW), the indie music, film and interactive festival that lights up Austin, Texas, every March. But did you know that there’s also a Great White North version held in Toronto every year in June? With over 800 Canadian and international bands packed into the five-day schedule, there’s bound to be something that tickles your music fancy. NXNE’s lineup testifies to the place it has earned on the festival circuit with some notable acts — Sleigh Bells, tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent — and a handful of established bands making an appearance alongside the up-and-comers. So if you want to check out SXSW’s mini-me, head north, my friend. Read more here.
If you’re up for something different — the rarefied and hard to find — there’s also France. On the flip side of the wine-laden Rhône Valley is the Freakshow Festival. It’s not the biggest or the most cash-laden, but it is the oddest and best, starting with the locale: a town called Gigors, population 58. Part of the festival’s extended appeal: water from the creek, running down from the mountain to where the festival sits, is used for cooking, drinking and, if you show up a little earlier to lend a welcome hand, for irrigating the vineyards growing the grapes that make the festival wine. Locals cheese, bread, victuals. And the music? A serious mélange of coolly challenging postpunk rock, a heaping handful of the best-edged music anywhere. Read more here.