In a little over two months the music festival season begins. Usually, PA alternative and punk rock fans could hop the bridge to East Rutherford, NY to see the large spectacle that is Bamboozle. With the festival committee putting Bamboozle on hiatus, three concerts are still within driving distance. Now it just depends on what you’re willing to spend, who has the best lineup and in general, where is the place to be?
The three concerts up for discussion: Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN; the Firefly Festival in Dover, DE; and the Skate and Surf Festival in Freehold, NJ.
Having been to over 50 concerts in a past life (before I became a broke-ass college student), my two biggest concerns were the cost and the distance. Festivals have a variety of bands, so it’s likely there will be a handful specifically for you and your taste.
According to Google maps, Bonnaroo is 789 miles away, or roughly 11 hours and 36 minutes, away. The concert starts on June 13; therefore the spring semester will not conflict with scheduling.
Firefly also begins after the semester and latest show of the three. It begins on June 21. In relation to KU, as was Bonnaroo, Dover is 124 miles. This is about a two hour and 21 minute drive from KU.
Freehold, NJ being just a hop, skip and a jump away is by far the closest with just a two-hour commute away. Timing, unfortunately for future Spring 2013 alumni, will be a concern. The Skate and Surf Festival will be held on May 18. This could conflict with graduation, but for those not graduating, it is the soonest of the three.
As far as cost goes, the length of the concert comes into play. Bonnaroo is a four day long event and Firefly is an entire three days long. The Skate and Surf will be held over just one weekend or two-days. Considering tickets have already been on sale for sometime, there are only a select few packages open.
Similar in price are Bonnaroo and Firefly. The Firefly, although shorter, is about the same as Bonnaroo at $258 for three days. For $269, Bonnaroo has four-day passes, but that doesn’t include a place to stay nor gas money to get there. Unlike the other two, The Skate and Surf Festival is selling single day passes for $55 and whole weekend passes for $100. Bonnaroo and Firefly will be selling single day tickets at the gate if supplies last, but none are available online just yet.
Looking past the guap and time lost traveling, the concert’s lineups are important for concertgoers too. For instance, Phish fans may not be partial towards the Skate and Surf festival because it is centrally a punk rock concert. Similar to Bamboozle, its replacement should be very similar. About three years ago, Fallout Boy headlined Bamboozle and quite frankly rocked it. They will be headlining the Skate Surf concert too, on May 18. Other intriguing bands on the first day are the electric ska band Streetlight Manifesto and self proclaimed partyer Andrew WK. The second day will be headlined by hardcore-punk band A Day to Remember. New rap sensation Macklemore will also be featured during the day. A couple formerly famous punk bands will be making an appearances too including: Bayside, Glassjaw, Saves the Day (makes no sense to me that they’re not headlining) and Cartel.
As for the other two festivals, a wider variety of bands will be in attendance. Though the days for each band have yet been established, many bands are similar in each concert. Artists playing both concerts include the following: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Grizzly Bear, The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Jim James.
Although Firefly doesn’t garnish it’s lineup with mainstream talent like Bonnaroo, it does focus on the alternative and folk rock scene by grabbing highly-regarded bands of the genre. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are an iconic alternative rock band that put on an excellent live show. The headlining band, besides Tom Petty, is the Red Hot Chili Peppers another iconic alternative rock band. Other bands exclusive to Firefly are the Alabama Shakes, the Avett Brothers, Clavin Harris, MGMT, Public Enemy, Azealia Banks, Vampire Weekend and Foster the People.
Bonnaroo is a different event than Firefly. It’s a four-day long music festival intertwined with famous comedians and art shows that make for one hell of a good time. Add in the lack of showering with millions of people gathered around the venue sleeping in tents, you have a big shindig on your hands.
Comedians in attendance will be headlined by Daniel Tosh. Along with Tosh are Ed Helms, Mike Birbiglia, Patrick Watson and JD McPherson.
Headlining the event is superstar and former Beatle Paul McCartney. Following McCartney’s lead are the following Bonnaroo exclusive artists: Mumford & Sons, Bjork, The National, Nas, Earl Sweatshirt, St. Vincent, Of Monsters and Men, Animal Collective, Billy Idol, ZZ Top and A$ap Rocky.
Each concert has its perks. Bonnaroo has the most extensive lineup. The Skate and Surf Festival is the cheapest, but has the least amount of bands. And the Firefly festival is the furthest away according to date giving people more time to prepare. Regardless of your choice, expect a good time wherever you go.
By Frank Lippincott