Which rock fest is best?

  • Article by: CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2013 - 9:07 PM

The lineups are piling up for this year’s destination music festivals.


Stone Roses will play at Coachella.


It’s not too early to make your travel plans for spring and summer — especially if you’re a music fan.

The lineups for many of this year’s big music festivals have been trickling out in recent weeks, with the largest, Bonnaroo, coming Tuesday. Proof that you can’t wait for the winter ice to start melting before setting your sights on one of these events, general-admission tickets for the Coachella and Sasquatch fests sold out the day they went on sale. And that despite Coachella’s decision to double up and offer the same lineup two weekends in a row (a plan the Austin City Limits fest in October will copy).

Twin Cities fans might be especially interested in comparing the offerings given the recent cancellation of St. Paul’s own River’s Edge Music Festival, which had disappointing crowds for its launch last June.


When is it? April 12-14 & 19-21.

Where is it? Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. (near Palm Springs).

Who’s playing? Organizers went heavy on the British accent, with late-’80s psychedelic rockers the Stone Roses set to play their first U.S. shows in nearly 20 years and ’90s favorites Blur also doing their first in a decade, plus New Order, the XX and Hot Chip. Also: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lou Reed, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Postal Service, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Vampire Weekend, Sigur Rós, Phoenix, Modest Mouse, Descendents, Lumineers.

Who’s it really for? Aging hipsters who don’t mind sleeping in a tent in the desert or can afford the jacked-up hotel prices in Palm Springs.

How can I go? Save for the $6,500 Safari Tent packages (!). Three-day passes are only available from resale sites such as Stubhub starting around $400. Fly to Palm Springs, or fly and drive 1-2½ hours from other Southern California airports.


When is it? April 26-28 and May 2-5.

Where is it? New Orleans Fairgrounds.

Who’s playing? The rather vanilla array of headliners includes Billy Joel, Dave Matthews Band, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayer and Maroon 5, plus the hipper Black Keys, Frank Ocean and Willie Nelson. Jazz Fest diehards never go for the big names, though, and can instead take in Gary Clark Jr., Patti Smith, Jimmy Cliff, Band of Horses, the Mavericks and the usual who’s who of Louisiana musicians, including Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, Queen Ida, Irvin Mayfield and Galactic.

Who’s it really for? Really everyone. Dixieland-loving seniors and families with kids mingle with collegiate fans and Louisiana music purists around the eight stages and myriad food stands, whose grub is craved even by NOLA residents. Hotels are about the only way to go for non-residents, and can be costly.

How can I go? One-day tickets are $50 via nojazzfest.com (it’s a nonprofit event). Fly to New Orleans or Gulf Shores, Ala.


When is it? May 24-27.

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