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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Music festival season is upon us: here’s what to expect for the 2016 season

    Courtesy of Alan Paone (CC BY 2.0)
    Sunset during Coachella in 2014. Photo Courtesy of Alan Paone (CC BY 2.0).

    With the New Year comes the start of the music festival season. Lineups descend and gossip begins. Although each festival has its own unique charm, amidst the annual slew of names, some lineups shine brighter than others.

    A good all-around lineup should, ideally, feature some rare acts and have a distinct demographic focus, strong headliners and an eclectic undercard. Music festivals typically cost $300 or more, so when one is sorting through the many options available, knowing whether a festival’s lineup warrants the money is crucial. Here is a list of some the highlights of the 2016 festival season.

    Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

    Few festivals have a lineup poster more iconic than Coachella’s. The 2016 edition is anchored by two reunions in LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses , as well as a hosting Calvin Harris as its first EDM headliner. Coachella will be LCD Soundsystem’s first show in five years, and while some may not initially view them as headliners, they are one of indie rock’s most influential bands, and a damn danceable one at that. Depending on Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses could be reminiscent of AC/DC’s blowout at the 2015 edition of Coachella, or it could be like water on a grease fire.

    As for the undercard, Coachella’s strong point lies in its impressive mix of eclectic electronic bands and artists. Featuring acts like Underworld, M83, Flume, ZHU, Claptone, SOPHIE, Grimes, Miike Snow and both Jack Ü and Major Lazer among others, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lineup that comes close to such electronic diversity. Although lighter on rock and indie acts than previous years, acts like Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, Courtney Barnett and a rare live performance from Sia will surely balance the festival and create memorable high points on the polo fields.

    Rating: A-

    Governors Ball Music Festival

    Governors Ball knocked it out of the park for its 2016 edition (no pun intended). Marking the headlining return of The Strokes and Kanye West, as well as a festival debut for The Killers, the lineup is a huge upgrade from what many considered to be last year’s lackluster one. Despite not landing New York City favorites LCD Soundstystem, The Killers and The Strokes consistently put on well-received shows. Additionally, Kanye has been known to pull out all the stops for live shows, and considering the imminent release of SWISH, the Governors Ball booking could be one of the first to feature the new songs.

    Below the headliners, Governors Ball features heavy hitters like Beck, Robyn and Death Cab for Cutie as well as fan-favorite indie rock (Two Door Cinema Club, Haim, Father John Misty), some of 2015’s best hip-hop (Mac Miller, Big Grams, Vince Staples and Vic Mensa), as well as the year’s most critically acclaimed electronic (Duke Dumont, Jamie xx and Bob Moses).

    Rating: A+

    Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

    For being one of the longest-running major festivals in America, looking at Bonnaroo’s 15th Anniversary lineup feels disappointing. With the exception of LCD Soundsystem, Bonnaroo’s other headliners, Dead & Company and Pearl Jam, are very safe and lack the excitement of more contemporary or risky choices featured at other festivals. While Governors Ball went for critically-acclaimed acts and Coachella booked reunions and innovative electronica, Bonnaroo dabbles, but ultimately falls back on generic EDM (Flosstradamus, Adventure Club and The Chainsmokers), average and over-toured hip-hop (J. Cole, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tyler the Creator) and the usual suspects (Misterwives, Grace Potter and Post Malone).

    Many of the artists on the Bonnaroo Lineup have been on the festival circuit relentlessly and have appeared at similar festivals during relevant times in their promotion phases, so appearing at Bonnaroo feels like a rehash without much to counter it. Besides a few acts like Ween and Lamb of God, there aren’t many artists on the lineup that can’t be seen at more adventurous and closer festivals; but knowing Bonnaroo, it will have some notable additions to round out the lineup.

    Rating: B-

    Firefly Festival & Hangout Festival

    Firefly Music Festival located in Dover, Delaware, and Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, are usually on par with each other’s lineups, but Firefly ultimately gives far more bang for the buck. While Hangout boasts the arguably better headliners (The Weeknd, Calvin Harris and Florence and The Machine) Firefly’s has a far more eclectic lineup including highlights like Blink-182, Earth Wind & Fire, Deadmau5, Porter Robinson and Ludacris. Hangout’s lineup leaves a lot to be desired and almost feels like a condensed version of Firefly’s. Furthermore, with how much the undercard offers relative to the headliners, Firefly is the obvious front-runner.

    Firefly Rating: B-

    Hangout Rating: C

    Sasquatch! Music Festival

    Taking place at the annual Gorge Amphitheater, Sasquatch, one of the most consistent festivals. It sticks to its sound, celebrating it’s 15th anniversary),but adds a few surprises for 2016. While they’re not the most notable, Florence and the Machine, The Cure and Disclosure are all unique, strong headliners in their own right.

    While Sasquatch leans primarily indie, the likes of Major Lazer and Disclosure are welcome electronic figureheads, leading a pack of phenomenal talent (Jamie XX, Caribou, M83, Rudimental, Four Tet, Baauer).

    Additionally, Sasquatch will be the platform for a solid amount of acts foregoing most of the other major festivals this season. The Sasquatch lineup as a whole is incredibly underrated, perhaps as a result of having less notable headliners, but the more one reads into the lineup the more one realizes the quality of music the Sasquatch team has assembled. If Coachella and Governors Ball had a love child, it would most certainly result in Sasquatch.

    Rating: B+

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