10 Best Summer Music Festivals You're Not Seeing
It's not always as overt as the Bud
With average attendance up 27.3% and average gross profit soaring 45% in 2011, we took a look at some of the biggest festivals of summer 2012 to see which companies went all-in with sponsorship:
Hangout Music Festival
Date: May 18-20, Gulf Shores, Ala.
Corporate backer: General Motors
Anheuser-Busch InBev, Microsoft
Date: May 25-28, George, Wash.
Corporate backer: esurance
It's not great that the esurance logo mucks up otherwise perfectly quirky retro posters and ads or that Kokanee beer, Honda
CMA Music Festival
Date: June 7-10, Nashville, Tenn.
Corporate backers: General Motors, American Airlines
This is about as big as country music festivals get, and the 65 acts that fans get for their $135 four-day ticket (the last available) are pretty formidable. That corporate subsidy gives fans a view of contemporary stars such as The Band Perry, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley, but also includes legends including Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, the Oak Ridge Boys and Mel Tillis.
Date: June 7-10, Manchester, Tenn.
Corporate backers: Ford
Those 150-plus acts and headliners such as Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish and the Beach Boys (yep, Bonnaroo went back to its softer, hippier roots this year) don't come cheap. The least expensive remaining tickets are $259, with RV upgrades costing between $180 and $1,399. They'd cost a lot more if not for Garnier Fructis salons, Dell computer labs, Miller Lite water misting tents and State Farm Insurance's bag check.
River's Edge Music Festival
Date: June 23-24, Harriet Island, Saint Paul, Minn.
Corporate backer: Citi
Sure, Citi's coffers help bring in big acts such as The Dave Matthews Band, Tool and The Flaming Lips and 26 other bands and keep ticket prices down to $110 for a two-day pass (though VIP packages go for two to five times that). But that sponsorship also gives Citi a chance to showcase its Citi Private Pass, which gives Citi cardholders access to ticket presales and preferred seating. Consider everyone's back scratched.
The Governor's Ball
Date: June 23-24, Randall's Island, NYC
Corporate backers: Honda and MolsonCoors
Why the Governor's Ball? Well it used to be held on Governor's Island just off the southern tip of Manhattan, but then folks figured out that you could only get there by boat, so that was right out. Instead, Beck, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, Built To Spill and Santigold will play on Randall's Island, a little sliver of earth on the East River between Manhattan and Queens under the RFK-Triborough Bridge. Don't say Honda and Miller Lite never get you nice things.
Date: June 27 through July 8 (closed July 2), Milwaukee, Wis.
Corporate backer: MolsonCoors
When U.S. Cellular, Briggs & Stratton
Essence Music Festival
Date: July 6-8, New Orleans
Corporate backers: Time Warner
The bad news is that, even with such heavy-hitting sponsors, three-day tickets still run between $150 and $900. The good news? That still get you in to see R&B and soul powerhouses including D'Angelo, SWV, Mary J. Blige, The Stylistics, The Pointer Sisters and Aretha Franklin.
Date: Aug. 3-5, Chicago
Corporate backer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Sony
The three-day Pitchfork Music Festival in July is a warning shot for Chicago residents. The $95-a-day Lollapalooza concertgoers are a full-on air-raid siren telling them to get out of the city. It's bad enough that Chicagoans already have to deal with this year's NATO summit, but all those Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath fans cavorting in a corporate signage-covered Grant Park can make protesters and dignitaries seem preferable by comparison.
Date: Aug. 10-12, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Corporate backers: Heineken, PayPal
Here's the conundrum for Outside Lands: Do you go roots and attract a broad base of concertgoers with the bohemian aesthetic San Francisco is known for or do you tell everyone that the Human Be-In is over and clear some space for VIP tents? The fest and its sponsors chose the latter and went with a Silicon Valley-friendly lineup of 65 acts topped by Metallica, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Foo Fighters, Jack White and Beck. Paupers can still get a $225 three-day pass, but the $495 VIP pass comes with with exclusive polo club, viewing area, lounge seating and massages. If you have to ask how much a 450-square foot VIP cabana is, you obviously haven't upgraded your portfolio since the Summer of Love.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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