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April 30, 2009

This Summer's Hottest Boutique Music Festivals

Andrew Bird plays last year's Outside Lands festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Photo: gussifer l on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Ondine Cohane

Where to catch Lily Allen, Kraftwerk, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon, and other music-fest faves this summer

What: OUTSIDE LANDS, August 28-30
Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
The Vibe: Jack Johnson and Ben Harper are alumni of this West Coast eco-chic festival, now in its second season, which attracts surfers and hippie rockers with day jobs, and mixes jam-band acts with edgier alternatives.
What to Bring: Stay hip and hydrated with the latest from Blue Q, an eco-conscious accessories company that specializes in water bottles ($18).
Don't Miss: The wine-tasting tents--sample the latest Napa vintages, plus super-fresh Hog Island oysters.
In the Hood: Take a side trip to hike along the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour north of San Fran (

What: HOVE, June 22-23,
Where: Tromøy Island, Norway
The Vibe: One of the Continent's most exciting and eclectic showcases after only two years (Jay-Z headlined in 2008), this carbon-neutral festival attracts outdoorsy types because of its bucolic Scandinavian countryside setting--think fairy-tale forests, pristine beaches, and clear, fish-filled lakes.
What to Bring: Want to keep up with crazy Scandi style? Pack a graphic bag by Finnish textile authority Marimekko ($469).
Don't Miss: The Killers, headlining this year's lineup, along with Franz Ferdinand, Fleet Foxes, and the Ting Tings.
In the Hood: Check out the former home of Henrik Ibsen, the country's most famous playwright, which is now a museum in nearby Grimstad (

What: BESTIVAL, September 11-13
Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight, U.K.
The Vibe: Fancy dress parade in the English countryside, pulling university types and those old enough to know better. When it comes to the music, anything goes, from dance to alternative--and an army of supercool DJs, including founder Rob da Bank, spin daily.
What to Bring: Jimmy Choo doesn't normally design for festival follies--which is why the stiletto king teamed up with Hunter Boots to keep feet dry in fun croc-print wellies ($395).
Don't Miss: Kraftwerk and Massive Attack. And if you fancy a bit of burlesque with your crumpets, the tea tent offers just that.
In the Hood: A pint of Greene King IPA at the Hare & Hounds pub, close to the action and with oodles of English atmosphere (Downend Rd.; 44-198-352-3446).

ROCK EN SEINE, August 28-30
Where: Saint-Cloud Park, Paris
The Vibe: Rock and alternative fete with a French focus--Arcade Fire, the Raconteurs, Louis XVI, and Rage Against the Machine are among the boldfaced names that have played to an audience of industry insiders and hipster French kids too cool to abandon Paris for their parents' country homes in sultry August.
What to Bring: Pop on a light cardi by record label turned fashion label Tigersushi, known for underground electro ($140).
Don't Miss: Leave plenty of time for une promenade on the grounds of the Château de Saint-Cloud, a maze of statues, fountains, and nooks perfect for une piquenique.
In the Hood: Take the subway from Boulogne to the Left Bank in central Paris for summer sales on designer duds like Paul & Joe (14 rue Commines) and Vanessa Bruno (12 rue Castiglione).

What: WAY OUT WEST, August 14-15,
Where: Gothenburg, Sweden
The Vibe: Alumni include international A-listers Kanye West and Neil Young as well as native talent such as Lykke Li and The Hives, but this northern European number remains obscure, drawing a slightly older crowd who take their music, and their food (everything's organic here), seriously.
What to Bring: Channel Helena Christensen and the rest of the Nordic set in a belt by Odd Molly, a Stockholm fashion fave of the supermodel's ($149).
Don't Miss: Big acts on the roster this year include Lily Allen, Bon Iver, and the Arctic Monkeys.
In the Hood: Take a side trip to Styrsö, a beautiful island just outside Gothenburg, and tool around on a three-wheel flakmoped.

What: BENICASSIM, July 16-19
Where: Costa del Azahar, between Valencia and Barcelona
The Vibe: International but edgy, this is arguably Europe's hottest summer road trip, patronized by indie fans who come for a mega-party in the Spanish sun. Last year's top acts included Hot Chip, Gnarls Barkley, and Mika.
What to Bring: Don't miss a second of the action with the Sony Webbie HD MP4 camera, a video-camera hybrid--and upload the results directly to YouTube ($200).
Don't Miss: Oasis, Kings of Leon, and Franz Ferdinand are all on the bill for '09--and the nearby beach is a good spot to work on your tan.
In the Hood: Sample the Valencian specialty cocktail Agua de Valencia at the Café Sant Jaume bar in this gem of a city an hour by train from the festival (51 Calle Caballeros; 34-96-391-2401).


ROCK THE BELLS 2009: Guerilla Union, the promoter for the ROCK THE BELLS 2009 FESTIVAL SERIES, has announced full details about North Americas only major touring hip-hop festival. Featuring such headliners as Nas & Damian Jr Gong Marley, The Roots, Big Boi and Common plus many more major hip-hop artists, the 10-city tourwhich kicks off June 27 at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Chicagowill pass through major music venues across North America. ROCK THE BELLS, presented by Guerilla Union since 2003, has established itself as a world-class hip-hop platform by hosting legendary performances by Rage Against the Machine, Jay-Z, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Public Enemy, Lauryn Hill, Blackstar (Talib Kweli and Mos Def), Hieroglyphics, Living Legends, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill and Jurassic 5 as well as reuniting Wu-Tang for their last performance with ODB in 2004. In 2008, Rock the Bells toured internationally for the first time in Prague, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Helsinki, Paris and London.;

ALL POINTS WEST MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL: Beastie Boys, Tool and Coldplay are set to headline the three-day, multi-stage music and arts festival. As an added value for 2009, festival goers who choose to travel to the site utilizing the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line can ride for free throughout the weekend with their ALL POINTS WEST festival ticket. Additionally, based on the popularity of the ferry as a mode of transportation from lower Manhattan to Liberty State Park, the frequency and size of the ferryboats will increase at a reduced price for festival attendees. The same layaway plan that Goldenvoice successfully implemented with a variety of their festivals this year will also be available for APW.

ELECTRIC DAILY CARNIVAL: Southern Californias premier electronic music experience for over a decade, ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL (EDC) has announced it will expand to two days for the first time ever, following last years sold-out event with 65,000 attendees. With over 100,000 people expected, North Americas largest electronic music gathering will return for its second run at the LA Memorial Coliseum & Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles Friday, June 26 with Paul Oakenfold, ATB, Eddie Halliwell and Boyz Noise and Saturday, June 27 with Fatboy Slim, Paul van Dyk, David Guetta, Benny Benassi and Roger Sanchez. Founded by Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac Events in 1996, ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL has become a staple of West Coast electronic music culture. For the last 12 years, many major staples of the genre have performed at the event including Moby, Above & Beyond, Infected Mushroom (live), Deep Dish, Pendulum, Ferry Corsten, Junkie XL, Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, Bassnectar, Armand Van Helden, Z-Tri and countless others. In addition to ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL, Insomniac Events also produce such electronic music festivals as Together As One, Nocturnal Wonderland, How Sweet It Is and Audiotistic, as well as Tiësto In Concert which sold out the LA Sports Arena with a 15,000 capacity.,

WEST BEACH MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL: The WEST BEACH MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL is one of the only U.S. festivals that takes place right on the beach. Located seaside just west of Stearn's Wharf, the all-ages festival each day will feature four stages of non-stop rock, reggae and jam bands, arts and crafts vendors and activities oriented toward children (further details on children's activities will be announced at a later date). The three-day festival will take place September 18-20, 2009.

BLAZED AND CONFUSED TOUR: Slightly Stoopid, hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg and Reggaes favorite son Stephen Marley will team up for this summers BLAZED AND CONFUSED tour. The three acts are joining forces for the first time to create the summer soundtrack of 2009. Look for announcements about line-up additions and new dates in the months leading up the tour. Set to kick off July 10, the month-long BLAZED AND CONFUSED trek will bring together a mix of music featuring rock and blues, hip-hop and reggae. Pre-sale tickets for the outing are on sale now via starting as low as $20.

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