Independent music festivals are one of the staples of summer. Concerts can span all types of genres and styles of music, but typically big named events like Coachella and the week long free-love festival, Burning Man, get all the attention.
The problem with those bigger features is that they cater to mainstream music. It is difficult for smaller, indie artists to get stage time during these events. Let’s take a look at five independent music festivals that are all over North America and that are just as fun and worthwhile to attend.
Winnipeg Folk Festival
This first event goes from July 5-8. It takes place at Birds Hill Park in Winnipeg, Canada.
Some of the notable artists include Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee and Julien Baker.
The concert debuted in 1974 and is one of the oldest independent music folk festivals in North America. It is famous for the wide range of artists who have appeared on stage in the past 45 years, gathering some of the most talented folk artists from around the world.
— VirginRadioWinnipeg (@VirginRadioWPG) July 5, 2018
The event prides itself on creating an atmosphere for all ages. A mainstay of the festival is its campgrounds, where families can stay and cool off while waiting for their favorite artists to play. Attendants will also hear musicians like Baker play inspiring, gut-wrenching songs reserved for a more mature audience.
Pitchfork Music Festival
The Pitchfork Music Festival starts on July 20-22 in Chicago, Illinois.
Notable acts include Tame Impala, Earl Sweatshirt, Fleet Foxes and Baker (again!).
This three day concert is held at one of Chicago’s most famous venues in Union Park. Pitchfork Music Festival incorporates a wide range of musical talent and styles such as psychedelic rock, folk and rap. The event has been a beacon of light for independent music and artists for the past 13 years.
🌀 Set times for @PitchforkFest are here 🌀
— Pitchfork (@pitchfork) June 18, 2018
Pitchfork creates a totally different mood than the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
The event was birthed by Pitchfork Media to create a way for fans from all over the world to experience their favorite indie musicians. In the past, the lineup has included Slowdive, Yoko Ono with Thurston Moore, and Kendrick Lamar.
Pitchfork has also had a long lineage of fan outreach. They hold record fairs where fans can buy new releases and find hidden musical gems. They also have a poster fair where poster artists create their work and sell it on the spot.
Overall, this is a traditional festival but one dedicated to hardcore indie fans.
Underground Music Showcase
The Underground Music Showcase takes us out west to the Mile High City in Denver, Colorado. It takes place from July 27-29.
The top acts include Alvvays, Classixx, and Cloud Cult.
Though little is known about this event, it’s produced by The Underground—a cryptic branch of 303 magazine that organizes surprise shows throughout Denver. The Underground keeps consistent with a common theme by valuing the experience for their fans and featuring an incredible food menu. Fans who join The Underground via their official website get a taste of the free grub.
— UMS (@TheUMS) June 28, 2018
The key to any successful festival is the commodities, especially if only attending for a few days. The Underground Music Showcase provides the best food and beer that Denver have to offer.
This is a more rare, secretive event within the festival scene, but with a lineup of experimental, shoegaze, and hip-hop, the Rocky Mountain crowd is definitely excited!
Pickathon Music Festival
Moving on from Denver to Oregon, Pickathon Music Festival is a staple of Happy Valley. This family friendly festival is hosted from August 3-5.
The notable artists are Phosphorescent, Circuit des Yeux, and I’m With Her.
This festival takes you to the lush forests of Oregon, where the audience can relax in tents, hammocks, and travel from site-to-site. Pickathon is similar to Winnipeg in that a lot of the acts are of the country and folk genre.
— Happy Mag (@HappyMagTV) June 21, 2018
The location—as for all festivals—is of massive importance. Instead of fighting with the scenic atmosphere, which normally distracts fans, organizers use the forest’s natural beauty to enhance the experience. Personnel setup stages that match their surroundings and create an intimate feeling in some of the smaller spaces. The result: a 20-year legacy that has families coming back year after year.
The Growlers Beach Goth
Our festival journey has come to an end in Los Angeles with the exciting Growlers Beach Goth. This is the shortest event, only lasting for one day on August 5.
Some of the notable performers are The Growlers, The Voidz, and Hatchie.
Just like The Underground Music Showcase, Beach Goth is a more recent entry onto the festival scene and created by the So. Cal based band, The Growlers. First introduced in 2012, Beach Goth has brought together genre-fusing musicians and is headlined each year by The Growlers.
If you’ve never heard of The Growlers, they’re best described as the Beach Boys fused with The Smiths.
The festival has generally been held during the end of October to match the featured band’s spooky sound. Some who attended also wore Halloween costumes.
Regardless of the change of date and season, attendees will be able to experience great live performances and the event’s charming atmosphere.
Whether you’re an independent music fan or looking to try something new this summer, any of these five festivals are more than worth checking out. They all have fun, vibrant atmospheres sure to provide a lifelong and unforgettable experience.