Pop-Ed: The Dream Ticket – Choosing From the Big Four Summer Music Fests

the gang looks at their favorite summer music fests…


The conceit was simple — with Coachella, Governors Ball, Firefly and Bonnaroo announcing their line-ups within the past few weeks, we decided to throw our writers a dream situation.

If you could have a ticket to any of these big four summer festivals (yes, Coachella is in April, but it’s definitely the first warm weather festival, so work with us), which would you choose? Money is no object, there’s no worries about taking off from work, nothing. In a perfect world, which fest would be your #1 choice.

Just to give you a brief overview of who’s playing what…

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Fest (Indio, California – 4/12-4/14 and 4/19-4/21): The Stone Roses, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modset Mouse, Lou Reed, Jurassic 5, Bassnectar, Passion Pit, Tegan & Sara, Band of Horses, The xx, Postal Service, New Order, Hot Chip, Moby, Violent Femmes, Portugal the. Man, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Vampire Weekend, Social Distortion, Pretty Lights, The Lumineers, The Gaslight Anthem, Wu Tang Clan and tons more.

Governors Ball Music Festival (Randall’s Island, New York City 6/7-6/9): Kanye West, Kings of Leon, Guns N’ Roses, Nas, Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, Feist, Kendrick Lamarr, Bloc Party, Gary Clark Jr., Japandroids, Erykah Badu, Young the Giant, Feist, Miguel, Beach House and many more.

Firefly Music Festival (Dover, Delaware, 6/21-6/23): Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Avett Brothers, Calvin Harris, MGMT, Ellie Goulding, Dispatch, Alabama Shakes, Public Enemy, Jim James, Matt and Kim and more.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (Manchester, Tennessee, 6/13-6/6): Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bjork, Wilco, Pretty Lights, R. Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, Daniel Tosh, The National, The Lumineers, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Ed Helms, Nas, ZZ Top, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Beach House, Billy Idol, A$AP Rocky, Cat Power, A-Trak and so many more.


Ann Hale: Choosing which music festival I would attend this year is actually very simple. It all comes down to one name: Bjork. Bonnaroo has Bjork. Sure, the fact that Of Monsters and Men, Paul McCartney, Cat Power, Beach House and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will be there is pretty awesome, but no other festival has that adorable little Icelander with the powerful voice.

I am not a fan of festivals. I, personally, am very big on showering and don’t really enjoy being touched by other people. I would suffer through all of that and more for Bjork. There is no other artist like her, no voice comparable, and, in my opinion, no talent at any other festival worth the cost of the ticket.


Maxwell Barna: Well, this a pretty brutal decision to make…

On one end of the spectrum, Coachella is a huge festival with a ton of really awful bands… However, there are a few diamonds in the rough on that long list of excessive rubbish. I spy Dropkick Murphy’s, Franz Ferdinand, Lee “Scratch” Perry, James McCartney (just kidding; fuck that guy), Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Moby, Modest Mouse, Portugal. The Man, Social D., The Selecter (WHAT?!), Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Vampire Weekend, and [what’s left of[ Wu-Tang Clan.

That’s definitely a list long enough to keep me entertained for a couple of days.


But then there’s Bonnaroo, who also recently announced its 2013 lineup. That festival’s A-List includes Wilco, R. Kelly (don’t judge me!), Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Portugal. The Man, Daniel Tosh, Weird Al Yankovich, Ed Helms, ZZ Top, Macklemore & That Guy Whose Name No One Cares Enough to Remember (I kid, Ryan Lewis! I kid!), Billy Idol (seriously thought this guy was dead), Trombone Shorty, Lee Fields & The Expressions, our boys Reptar (BIIIIIIG props to those kids — keep puttin’ in work, guys!), and a ton of other really, really talented artists.

It’s tough, because what the folks at Coachella did right, they really did right. Some of the people on their list blew my mind. But then there’s Bonnaroo, a festival so vibrant and full of life and culture that you can probably choose an artist or group on their lineup you’ve never heard, and I’d say a relatively decent majority of the time you’ll probably enjoy yourself if you head on over to their set. Plus, I mean, think of all the loose, trashy, pseudo-hippie girls running around with their neon clothing, oversized wayfarers/aviators, and goofy-looking headbands… Those girls alone are enough of a reason to buy the ticket and take the ride! And the drugs! My God, the drugs…

It’s a tough decision to make, and I’d say my choice would depend solely on what mood I’m in. If I’m feeling like a purist with a dire need to see some really solid live music, I might consider Coachella. But if I’m looking for a few days of some real hard partying and fun, mixed together with great live music to form one, perfect STD, THC and PCP-laden cocktail, I’d probably go with Bonnaroo… You know what? Fuck it… I’m going with Bonnaroo; I could use a drink. And also syphilis.


Erica Batchelor: Firefly Music Festival would be my choice simply because of the lineup this year. From established bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to my recent fascination with newcomers Twenty One Pilots, there is something for everyone to enjoy. This festival adheres to my own personal taste in music. I am drawn in to see the bands I know I love and intrigued to know I will leave with a new music library.

Lauren Stern: It’s pretty obvious that there are so many great festivals happening this summer, but if I were to choose one to attend this year it would be Governors Ball. As you may remember, I attended the festival last year and being a part of it was such an incredible experience that even if the line-up featured every band or artist that I vehemently disliked I’d be there in a heartbeat. This year’s line-up happens to rock and is totally way better than last year’s (sorry Beck..) so I’m excited for it! As we speak saving up every penny I got for the weekend, crossing my fingers for the opportunity to cover it again for this very site.


Justin Matchick: I was really tempted to say Governor’s Ball, based solely on the fact that Death from Above 1979 would be playing. But purely on the number of artists I would want to see perform all at the same festival I would have to say Coachella wins out. The lineup isn’t as spectacular as the past few years, but any opportunity to see Vampire Weekend, Wu Tang Clan, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Violent Femmes, New Order, Modest Mouse, and Blur all at one festival is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Joel Wosk: After reviewing the lineups for the various festivals coming this summer, I have to say that The Governor’s Ball looks pretty awesome this year. If nothing else, Guns N’ Roses is going to be there. I have to admit, I am a little bit biased seeing as they have been one of my favorite bands since they were actively playing music together with the original lineup. Nowadays, the band is essentially “Axl Rose and Friends.” But you know what? I DON’T CARE. In addition to GNR, you also get Death From Above 1979, Cut Copy, Feist, Thievery Corporation, and so on. Out of all they festivals coming up this summer, The Governor’s Ball appears to have the most impressive roster of bands.


Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.