Reminiscing the Summer Music Festival Season (and How to Get Your Fix)

Music to the Ears | Written By, Sachi Kondo |

A morning dip in the pool, a sunny walk through the park, then apéro by sundown; the long hours of summertime are normally spent sipping sangrias in a sunny back garden. For many, summer days shouldn’t be wasted getting intoxicated without the delights of summer festival plans. These unprecedented times give us no choice but to reminisce the good old days and anticipate better days than these.

Most large-scale events have been postponed or digitised, due to serious safety precautions taken to curb the outbreak. The mass cancellation of summer music festivals is an unfortunate casualty of the pandemic and has definitely devastated the music community and fans worldwide.

People in the industry have been finding ways to bridge artists and the fans whilst keeping a safe distance, hence we’ve witnessed the surge in drive-in concerts and, most importantly, virtual music experiences. This week, we look back as well as forward, to some of the world’s best summer music festivals.

Sunny Side Up
sunnysideupfest.com

What: Music (pop, EDM, and more)
When: Around August.
Where: Bali, Indonesia

Held in a splendid beachfront venue, Sunny Side Up is a two-day music and culture festival that has brought together international headliners, cutting-edge artists and DJs from a variety of genres on to one stage in lively Seminyak. Attracting an audience from around the archipelago and beyond, the event has put Bali on the map for a tropical festival setting in Asia. Star-studded artists who have glitzed the lineup include Flume, Disclosure, Mark Ronson, Flight Facilities, Ellie Goulding and the likes.

Listen to last year’s official playlist for a gentle throwback here.

The Governors Ball
governorsballmusicfestival.com

What: Music (rock, hip-hop, indie, folk, electronic, and more)
When: Around June.
Where: Randalls Island, New York, USA

(Instagram: @govballnyc)

Often regarded as New York’s Glastonbury, Gov. Ball is built by New Yorkers for New Yorkers with a mantra to promote ‘encouragement, positive reinforcement, good vibes, good laughs and damn good times.’

With cult names on the bill (such as The Strokes, Stevie Nicks, and Major Lazer) and a balance of more obscure but emerging artists, no wonder the festival is seen in the same vein as that of in Somerset, England. Not only satisfying to the ear, the food at Gov. Ball is known to be legendary (lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster is one example). With cancelled dates, the team has instead assembled a Spotify playlist to brighten up your life at home (listen to Gov. Ball Quarantunes).

Glastonbury
glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

What: Music (multi-genre)
When: Around June.
Where: Pilton, Somerset, UK

Undoubtedly a cornerstone of British music culture, Glastonbury attracts festival-goers from all over the globe year after year; that securing tickets is an achievement worth boasting about. The serene fields of Somerset are swept by ultra-famous headliners including Beyoncé, Arctic Monkeys, Adele, The Killers, Janet Jackson and a fashionable crowd in wellies; which easily makes the festival an annual must-do for avid music fans.

With the event cancelled and tickets refunded, the Glasto team translated the full-festival experience to a fantastic digital entertainment for festival-goers to enjoy at home. Visit their official website to check out the Glastonbury 2020 Virtual Line-Up.

Primavera Sound
primaverasound.com

What: Music (alternative, electronic, indie)
When: Between the end of May and beginning of June.
Where: Barcelona, Spain

Hosted on the sunny shores of Barcelona’s Parc del Forum, the ‘zeitgeist-chasing’ music festival curates a lineup of the most innovative and influential artists across the spectrum of alternative indie (from lo-fi to glossy pop) and underground techno. The likes of Gorillaz, Tame Impala, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, and Iggy Pop have performed for music fans against a backdrop of the lush Mediterranean Sea and stunning architecture.

Check out Primavera Pro 2020 Online Edition to watch online concerts and discussions about the Catalan music industry, among other creative talks.

Byron Bay Bluesfest
bluesfest.com.au

What: Music (blues, Americana)
When: Around April.
Where: Byron Bay, Australia

Formerly known as the East Coast International Blues & Roots Music Festival, the Easter-long weekend festival has been around since 1990 showcasing the industry’s best names across the 120-hectare Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. This year’s lineup would have witnessed Alanis Morissette, Patti Smith, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthews Band, Tori Kelly, and more. Though in a recent update, Bluesfest have confirmed 50 great names to perform at the 2021 event.

How The Light Gets In
howthelightgetsin.org

What: Music, Literary, Philosophy
When: Between May to September.
Where: Hay-on-Wye, Wales, UK

Named after a Leonard Cohen lyric, the world’s largest festival of its kind is hosted by the Institute of Arts and Ideas ‘to get philosophy out of the academy and into people’s lives.’ The bi-annual festival invites philosophers, writers, academics, comedians, and musicians to come together for debates, workshops, and late-night parties. Speakers have included Noam Chomsky, Brian Eno, Ed Miliband, Stanley Fish, among others, whilst music headliners saw popular outfits like Clean Bandit and Hot Chip; alongside entertainers James Acaster and Phil Wang.

2020’s theme Belief, Hypocrisy and Reason is to be held online over the weekend of 19 to 20 September. The virtual festival includes 200 events live streamed from Delhi, London, and New York to make it accessible from all time zones.

Fuji Rock
fujirockfestival.com

What: Music (pop, rock)
When: Around August.
Where: Niigata, Japan

(Instagram: @fujirock_jp)

Initially hosted at the foot of Mount Fuji back in 1997, the globally-loved festival is now held in the dream- like location of Naeba Ski Resort. It has extended beyond the conventional guitar-slamming rock, from classic names like Foo Fighters, The Cure and Elvis Costello, to Vince Staples and James Blake, as well as popular names in the indie scene like Courtney Barnett, Alvvays, American Football, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Alongside music, you have Japan’s awe-inspiring nature to bask in.

Meadows in the Mountains
meadowsinthemountains.com

What: Music (multi-genre)
When: Around June.
Where: Polkovnik Serafimovo, Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s Rhodopes Mountains is home to inhabitants who conform to the traditional Bulgarian life; but also to one of the most unique and atmospheric festivals in Eastern Europe. The forested mountain in southern Bulgaria sees adventurers, explores, and free-thinkers unite among its unparalleled scenery and solid community spirit. The festival prides itself on exclusivity, with its peak number of attendees being 1,000 people, with booked tickets.

Expect to see alternative DJs and live bands, including Gipsydelica (a Balkan psychedelic ethno rock infusion) and A House in the Trees (a London collective who digs deep into emotive sounds and penetrates beyond dark genre boundaries).


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