Mud-dancing in short-shorts and galoshes, camping with your BFFs, taking a day-long road trip to see the band you thought that you’d never see in your lifetime—no matter where you are on the globe, there might be a summer music festival tailor-made for you. You could go to the usual big name events, where Skrillex co-headlines with yet another washed-up band reunited for “one last time.” Or you could experience one-of-a-kind events featuring artists all hailing from a single scene who have never performed back-to-back, the best of strictly-local talent, or deep celebrations of cultures that have never been given enough international exposure. Here are a few festivals around the world this summer that don’t fit into the cookie-cutter summer music festival mold.
1. Pachanga Festival (Austin, USA) May 10-May 11
Today is the first day of the Pachanga Festival which has been celebrates Mexican and other Latino culture, Tejas-style. It has everything for all ages of Latin music lovers: a mini-festival for children called Niños Rock Pachanga, a mariachi band doing Beatles covers, and performances of various traditional music forms. In addition to local Texan acts, other American acts include Los Rakas, Raul y Mexia, and Los Lobos. I suspect that the Pachanga Festival experience will be wildly different from that other annual festival associated with Austin.
2. Bushfire Festival (outside of Mbabane, Swaziland) May 31-June 2
International Acts: Bomba Estéreo, Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla (of Etran Finatawa), Joy Frempong
Local Acts: Shangaan Electro, Nakhane Toure
Of all the festivals on this list, this is the highest on my list for a fantasy vacation. The venue is set deep in the Swaziland landscape near a wildlife sanctuary and at its core is an “Afro-Shakesperean Globe Theater.” There’s also an amazing balance of traditional African, Afro-contemporary, and international acts in this line-up. There are traditional music and dance acts from South Africa/Swaziland as well as hip-hop and electronica artists. Continental musicians will be performing things like Mozambican jazz and Saharan blues guitar from Niger. And then there’s Bomba Estéreo! The whole festival seems like it’s going to be very, very chill.
3. Noise Music Festival (Mexico City, Mexico) May 31, (Monterrey, Mexico) June 1, (Guadalajara, Mexico) June 2
The Noise Music Festival has an interesting roving format. Pretty much the same line-up of performers will be performing in three different cities in Mexico. It won’t be Coachella, but I predict it’s where the cool kids will be congregating. Also, who want’s to be Coachella? Mexico is quickly eclipsing the United States for best music festivals in the Americas with Vive Latino and Nrmal already killing it this year. And the Noise Festival is just one of many others slated this summer. Summer of Love 2013?
Bored of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival? Set in the Japanese mountainside, Taico Club is definitely summer camp for serious techno heads. With artists ranging from low-fi ambient/noise to house, Taico Club’s venue has a limited capacity giving it added intimacy. No waiting in a line for 45 minutes to use a god-awful port-a-potty.
5. Baybeats (Singapore) June 28-June 30
I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about most of these bands, but Baybeats has a reputation for congregating the best Southeast Asian alternative rock bands to its annual shindig. Vive Latino caught a fair amount of criticism this year for flying over a number of aging Britpop artists to what is supposed to be a celebration of Latino culture. That’s not something you’ll ever see happen at Baybeats, which consistently has a huge turnout. A representation of the diversity of rock in Singapore: Tall Mountains’ folk-pop and Wormrot’s grindcore.
6. Rock al Parque (Bogota, Colombia) June 28-July 3
International Acts: Cannibal Corpse, Bosnian Rainbows
Local Acts: No other acts have been confirmed yet, but the line-up is consistently out-of-control and more names should be posted soon…
South America’s largest music festival is also completely free. Have you noticed that over the years, more and more rock festivals are becoming headlined by mega-DJs? That’ll never happen at Rock al Parque. It’s strength is in hard rock, metal, and punk. Past acts have included Aterciopelados, The Skatalites, Café Tacuba, Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies.
7. Ansan Valley Rock Festival (Ansan, Korea) July 26-July 28
Of any festival on this list, Ansan has the biggest name (and perhaps, most boring) international acts, but Korea’s biggest annual music festival (moved this year from Jisan, its usual location) has a terrific line-up of MTVIggy’s favorite Korean rock bands, including Gukkasten (who went to SXSW this year), PIA (who has toured with Incubus), Daybreak, and 3rd Line Butterfly (who were a part of last year’s Seoulsonic line-up).
8. Mysteryland (Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands) August 24
International Acts: Steve Aoki, Caspa
Local Acts: Headhunterz, Steve Angello, DJ Chuckie
The most hedonistic festival on this list, Mysteryland is set to be EDM’s Mecca, the European version of the Electric Daisy Carnival. But you know what? EDM wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the infectious rise of Dutch house, bubblin’, and Dutch hardstyle. This is a case where the local acts are as universally revered as the international headliners. Break out your neon leggings.
9. Festival Number 6 (Portmeirion, United Kingdom) September 14, 15, 16
International Acts: Chic ft. Nile Rogers, Frankie Knuckles
Local Acts: Manic Street Preachers, James Blake, Tricky, Neon Neon
If muddy debauchery isn’t your thing, the cool dads of the world should head to Festival Number 6. After a long, hot summer of globe-trotting and dancing till your feet are sore, this newish English festival is sure to be clean, orderly, and have a fair amount of arts-related programming in addition to music. Also, their formidable line-up of UK indie acts is a reminder that Brooklyn isn’t the center of the alternative universe.
Which festival would be your pick to go to this summer?