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by Rob Harvilla

May 8, 2012

Which Summer Festival Is Right for You?

by Rob Harvilla  |  May 8, 2012

So this year you're looking to go to one of these long-weekend, crazy-lineup summer music fetes you've been reading so much about: your Lollapaloozas, your Bonnaroos, your Sasquatches. But these suckers are expensive, and time-intensive, and requiring of profound physical/emotional investment. There can be only one, probably, unless you're 22 years old and crazy loaded. So let's break down nine of the biggest names -- listed here in calendar order -- to try and find your perfect fit. Good luck, and as Kurt Vonnegut did not actually advise, "wear sunscreen."

Name: Sasquatch

Lineup Highlights: Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, The Shins

Dates: May 25-28

Location: The Gorge in Washington state, which is probably farther from Seattle than you think.

General Vibe: Woodsy cordiality, like a Cracker Barrel for iPad-toting young professionals.

Clientele: Look, dudes, if you don't have a beard then you're probably gonna be super-uncomfortable.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Given the camping-heavy vibe, probably extremely, unless you're toting along one badass yurt.

Name: Bonnaroo

Lineup Highlights: Radiohead, Phish, The Beach Boys, Bon Iver

Dates: June 7-10

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

General Vibe: The loudest, scuzziest, raddest camping trip ever.

Clientele: Beach Boys fans mingling with Skrillex fans mingling with Kenny Rogers fans, which I think we can all agree will be hilarious.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? So muddy you will be rendered unrecognizable, even to your parents.

Name: CMA Music Festival

Lineup Highlights: Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts

Dates: June 7-10

Location: Nashville

General Vibe: Reverent awesomeness, whether the dude onstage is Kenny Rogers or Eric Church.

Clientele: Country radio fanatics with absolutely no interest in going to any of these other festivals. How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Given the high volume of pickup truck owners, look out for parking-lot peel-outs.

Name: Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas

Lineup Highlights: Tiesto, Avicii, Bassnectar, Afrojack.

Dates: June 8-10

Location: Sin City, dogg.

General Vibe: Like a living, breathing alarmist 60 Minutes story on Kids Today.

Clientele: Younger than you, cooler than you, higher than you in several senses.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? This will be the least of your delights/concerns.

Name: Summerfest

Lineup Highlights: Kelly Clarkson, Train, and a cast of thousands. Dates: June 27-July 1, July 3-8

Location: Milwaukee, Wis.

General Vibe: Rampant, life-affirming eclecticism: Lady Antebellum! tUnE-yArDs! Tiesto! Iron Maiden! Aerosmith!

Clientele: Classic rock fanatics and modern country fanatics, abruptly realizing how much they have in common.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? If you replace "muddy" with "drunk," then, well, uh, obliteratingly.

Name: Pitchfork

Lineup Highlights: Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vampire Weekend, A$AP Rocky.

Dates: July 13-15

Location: Chicago

General Vibe: Elaborately crafted nonchalance.

Clientele: Reformed indie rock snobs who will show up for Feist/ Hot Chip/Godspeed etc., but will be willing to grudgingly admit it when Kendrick Lamar/( [AraabMUZIK]http://www.rhapsody.com/goto?rcid=art.38581762)/ Danny Brown etc. turn out to be way better.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Mud is not permitted at the Pitchfork Festival under any circumstances.

Name: Lollapalooza

Lineup Highlights: The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White.

Dates: August 3-5

Location: Chicago

General Vibe: Hot, crowded and nonetheless euphoric.

Clientele: Old-school (or just old) lifers who still remember the Jane's Addiction/ Pearl Jam fetes of the '90s, mingling with underage scamps who are only there to see Avicii.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Not terribly unless there's a reprise of last year's apparently biblical rainstorm that turned Deadmau5's set into the Second Coming.

Name: Gathering of the Juggalos

Lineup Highlights: Insane Clown Posse and a supporting cast of total weirdos.

Dates: August 8-12

Location: Cave-in-Rock, Ill.

General Vibe: Not as hedonistic/violent/uncouth as you're picturing, but still.

Clientele: All the kids you ignored/ridiculed in high school who actually turn out to be pretty cool, face paint notwithstanding.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Depends on how skilled you are at dodging projectiles.

Name: Outside Lands

Lineup Highlights: Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Grandaddy.

Dates: August 10-12

Location: San Francisco

General Vibe: Uneasy but relatively stable détente among Metallica fans at the very least willing to not actively riot during preceding sets by Norah Jones, Justice or Andrew Bird.

Clientele: Tall, gawky dudes who work for digital music services who are very, very excited to see Grandaddy.

How Muddy Am I Going to Get? Not very, but look up that old Mark Twain quote about summers in San Francisco.

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