The Mainstays

Governors Ball (May 31 to June 2)

New York City’s main music festival is bringing back a few of its old favorites this year: The Strokes, SZA and Nas among them. But Gov Ball has also enlisted some newer artists who haven’t performed on Randall’s Island before, including Gesaffelstein (will Pharrell make a guest appearance onstage for their song “Blast Off”?) and Brockhampton.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
The Arizona rap trio Injury Reserve, singer Ravyn Lenae (whose EP “Crush” was produced by The Internet’s Steve Lacy) and electro-pop band Parcels — a group of mustachioed, long-haired Australians enjoying a recent bout of fame after their music video went viral in the U.S.

Bonnaroo (June 13 to 16)

The days of camping out on festival grounds are not over. At least, not if Bonnaroo has anything to say about it. Headliner highlights from the concert in Tennessee include Cardi B, Childish Gambino and Kacey Musgraves. But other draws, like interactive art installations and ‘til-dawn dance parties, provide additional reasons to visit.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Like many artists weaving music festivals into their tour dates, Parquet Courts stops in Tennessee midway through its summer gigs. Korean-American producer/DJ Tokimonsta will supply indie-electro beats.


Firefly Music Festival (June 21 to 23)

Tyler, the Creator and Vampire Weekend are two big names performing in Dover, Del., this year, and they share a couple of things in common. Both recently released stellar new albums, (Tyler’s “Igor” hit the number-one spot this week) and both are making the festival rounds. They know fans need to hear songs like “Sunflower” (Vampire Weekend) and “Earfquake” (Tyler, the Creator) live, on a huge stage.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Bedroom rocker Gus Dapperton, Half Alive (a band that rose to prominence after YouTube’s algorithm pumped their song “Still Feel” into viewers’ feeds) and DMV rapper JPEGMafia.


Lollapalooza (Aug. 1 to 4)

The musicians farther down on Lollapalooza’s lineup list are almost as — and at times much more — exciting than the headliners up top. Sure, J Balvin, Ariana Grande and Tame Impala should be sick, but don’t sleep on Rosalía, Saba and Joji. Plus, Shaquille O’Neal spins for his Chicago fans under the moniker DJ Diesel.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Ama Lou, a favorite of Drake’s and a seriously talented classically trained singer, takes the stage Friday; Tierra Whack’s lyrical prowess should not be skipped over. Sway to the shoegaze rock of all-girl band Men I Trust and make sure you check out Grande’s co-songwriter Tayla Parx, who released her solo record “We Need to Talk” in April.


Outside Lands (Aug. 9 to 12)

San Francisco may have turned into a hellish landscape of tech start-ups, but one thing has remained over the past 11 years — for locals and transplants alike. Outside Lands fosters local talent in music, even as it shifts to a more pop-focused lineup. Aside from performances, be sure to visit the Humphry Slocombe ice cream truck and pick up some crispy egg rolls at FOB Kitchen.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Arguably one of the most prominent Bay Area rappers today, AllBlack makes his Outside Lands debut. P-Lo, another Bay favorite and collaborator of singer Jess Connelly, performs on Friday. Here’s hoping he brings out E-40.

The Niche Players

Pitchfork Music Festival (July 19 to 21)

Is Pitchfork even considered niche these days? Maybe not, especially with headliners like Charli XCX and Pusha T. But the step-cousin to larger summer concerts is happy catering to an anti-festival crowd and bringing on indie acts. This year, The Isley Brothers is a huge highlight — the legendary group is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
After lending a hand for the production of some “When I Get Home” songs for Solange, Standing on the Corner performs on the Union Park grounds; hear Rico Nasty scream her lyrics, “Thank God I ain’t have to smack a b—h today.” 


Mo Pop (July 27 to 28)

Mo Pop reminds concertgoers that Detroit is, indeed, an arts and culture center. And why shouldn’t it be? Lizzo, Ella Mai and Kali Uchis have all inked deals to show — giving the Midwest its own festival moment.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
The latest rap prodigy to come out of Atlanta, J.I.D. Plus, Noname: a quiet, understated savant with writing skills up the wazoo.

Roots Picnic (June 1)

A perennial favorite in Philly and beyond, the Roots Picnic doesn’t seek out top 40 artists for its lineup. Instead, highly talented voices in music, radio and podcasts perform. Newly minted Grammy winner H.E.R. headlines the festival, and former rapper Joe Budden will record an episode of “The Joe Budden Podcast” at the concert.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
City Girls, period. Tank and the Bangas brings its unique sound of spoken word meets pop music.  


The New Ones

Woodstock 50 (Aug. 16 to 18)

It’s unclear whether Woodstock will actually happen, given a year fraught by disputes between festival officials and the ex-financial backer Dentsu Aegis. Tickets are still not available for purchase, and the clock is ticking. If the festival does come together in time, it’ll be a great celebration for the original Woodstock concert’s 50th anniversary; Jay Z is slated to make a rare appearance for the only summer music festival he’s hitting this year. Plus, Carlos Santana, Canned Heat, John Fogerty and a few others from 1969’s Woodstock will make their return for the 2019 concert.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Hova isn’t the only elusive artist appearing at Woodstock. Russian punk rockers Pussy Riot will be there, too. If something a little calmer is your speed, check out Soccer Mommy.

Solid Sound (June 28 to 30)

Solid Sound is somewhat of a divergence from the typical summer concert experience. Based in North Adams, Mass., the music and arts festival put on by Illinois band Wilco features performances from the band for the first time in two years, along with stand-up comedy from Aparna Nancherla and a panel of Penguin Random House authors including Abbi Jacobson.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
Fronted by “Hamilton” actor Daveed Diggs, Clipping is an underrated project on the Sub Pop label that has made songs for the show “Rick and Morty” on top of its wealth of videos and tracks.

Bunbury Music Festival (May 31 to June 2)

Rock music finally gets its day on the summer concert scene. The Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati plays host to the highly debated band Greta Van Fleet (do they sound like Led Zeppelin or not?) along the Ohio River.

Don’t Miss These Openers:
New Jersey ska band Streetlight Manifesto and emo crooners Dashboard Confessional rise from the ashes of the early Aughts to play shows; Internet engima Poppy, after wrapping her “Am I a Girl?” tour, will also appear at the festival.