The mainstream music industry doesn’t often smile upon the independent music community. The radio does very little to support steadfast musical idealists, and seems to have little tolerance for actual instruments. Additionally, there’s always some coked-up record company executive dropping some pretentious line like “instruments are obsolete” or claiming an entire genre of music is “dead” in order to rally favor for the ever-regressing, superficially-minded direction of the industry. Lines are drawn (and occasionally snorted) and now we live in a time where the Jack Daniels-and-glitter-soaked likes of Ke$ha can live in a mansion after having only one album to brag about, while a million touring musicians die in the back of a piss-stained VW Bus, from exhaustion and rejection-poisoning. The grassroots approach is really all that’s available to anyone without sex appeal, an image to exploit. We all know any decent pair of breasts can fair well in the arms of a reputable producer doing all the songwriting and actual legwork. As such, a huge bastion for indy musicians lies, in addition to spending months touring the country, in the summer festival enterprise. Securing a gig at any one of the majors is a surefire way to become visible to a sea of receptive fans, the likeliest to appreciate talent and integrity immediately upon seeing it. After all, a festival is as much a chance to experience more than one favorite act at a single ticket price, as it is a chance to be enlightened, and in more ways than one. Here are the top ten summer music festivals:
This Seattle, Washington, music and arts festival is another festival chock full of niche acts, some slightly more known than others, while carrying on its shoulders show-making headliners: last year saw Bob Dylan, Weezer, Rise Against, Courtney Love’s Hole (yuck), and the Decemberists, as the proverbial cream of the crop (yes, Bob Dylan… and Hole) to give an idea for how mixed, maybe even ambivalently so, the line-up can be. There isn’t really the kind of consistency that the others secure, but for a good sampling of whatever-the-hell, Bumbershoot is a decent outlet for seeing your favorite third-rate acts (though not enough that you should sacrifice all of your festival dollars here). Taking place September 3-5, it really does amount to the dregs of the festival season.