Tennessee has Bonnaroo. Chicago has Lollapalooza. Milwaukee has Summerfest. Michigan has Electric Forest Festival. While Cleveland doesn't have a signature music festival (CMJ tried and failed at producing a festival here a few years ago), Ohio has a growing number of destination festivals well worth the drive. Because why should we be left out of the sweltering, all-day, jam-til-you-drop summer evenings? Here's a rundown of this year's eclectic offerings.
All Good Music Festival • July 18-21
Headliners Furthur (featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir), Pretty Lights, Primus
Tix $189 four-day pass
Where? Thornville is east of Columbus, just south of I-70. There will be two huge side-by-side stages set up for maximum concert-going ease. Stay tuned to the website for additional travel/parking info.
Don't Miss! The Soul Rebels bring a NOLA-style party wherever they play, so do get ready to dance your ass off for this one. Also, if you've never seen the North Mississippi Allstars, this is the perfect time to dig into their riotous musicianship. Furthur: Of course! It's the band's only date this year between New Jersey and Colorado. "I'm always thrilled and honored to be working with Furthur," All Good founder Tim Walther says, adding that they've headlined three of the past five fests.
Skip It To be upfront about it, there are actually no scheduling conflicts throughout the festival. But if you're lookin' to get away from the music and maybe throw down some serious yoga on the grounds (yes, do), feel free to take a walk during Digital Tape Machine, the inconsequential side project of several members of Umphrey's McGee.
What To Bring "Shade" is the most important word when camping at summer fests. Bring some sort of canopy to top off your tent. Also: water. And, probably: more water. Leave your Cleveland mids at home, though. There'll be plenty of greenery on the grounds and — duh — you don't bring sand to the beach, as they say.
Good Grub All Good boasts some of the finest food and craft brew vendors from around the country. In fact, they have to turn sellers away because the demand to be on the grounds is just so high.
Green Cred Volunteerism is a cultural meme at All Good. Cleaning up the surroundings is highly encouraged, and campers are given all the supplies they'll need to maintain a clean home for the weekend. There's also the *don't leave anything but footprints* ethos espoused throughout the event.
The History It's the 17th year for All Good, which has been through six locations in four states over that time. The idea started out as a tight-knit outlet for the jam band scene (fewer than 1,000 initially attending), and it exponentially blossomed into a MAJOR ANNUAL EVENT.
Watch Out For... That guy's dread tentacles are about to whip you in the face as he goes for his sixth attempt at some sorta hula-hoop record — DUCK! Also, those dudes who always seem to be mumbling/shouting "Who's got my molly?" Yes, they clock in as the most annoying bros this side of Austin, Texas. (Eric Sandy)
Bunbury Music Festival • July 12-14
Headliners fun., MGMT, The National, Cake
Tix $55 for a one-day pass; $110 for all three days
Where? Take 71 to Cincinnati. The festival's at Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove, contiguous city parks along the Ohio River.
Don't Miss! If you're only springing for a one-day pass, make that day Sunday—with pedigreed stalwarts like Camera Obscura, Yo La Tengo, Belle & Sebastian, and Cincy natives The National, Sunday's lineup bolsters the festival's buzzband roster (and ultra-twee title) with substantial indie cred. But up-tempo rockers Tokyo Police Club, artsy electropop duo Chairlift, model-cum-precocious synth starlet Sky Ferreira, and Wolf Parade/Spoon supergroup Divine Fits make the whole weekend a worthwhile investment. And be sure to check out Walk the Moon and Youngblood Hawke, two local groups poised to blow up nationally this year.
Skip It You could try to muscle your way to the front of the squirmy dayglo-clad crowd during fun.'s set, or you could retreat to your car for some bong rips and Extreme Doritos and just turn on the radio if you're really jonesing to hear "Carry On" or "Some Nights" for the 27,000th time.
What To Bring The six stages span a mile-long riverfront park, so bring some good walking kicks and folding chairs to veg out in. Also kids ten and under get in for free, so grab a few short friends. And we totally wouldn't be caught dead here without acid-wash cutoffs, neon-framed aviator sunglasses, and ultra-shamanistic tribal accessories.
Good Grub The festival's food vendors are a who's who of local and regional foodie faves, with nary a national chain in sight. Favorites from last year likely to crop up again include authentic Liège waffles from Taste of Belgium, wood-fired pies from Fireside Pizza, home-style carne asada tacos from Taco Azul, exotic gelati from Dojo Gelato, avocado and peach-sriracha popsicles from Street Pops, and Hawaiian-style soba from Island Noodles. Also check out local brews from Morlein brewery in the festival's "craft beer village."
Green Cred Since the grounds are rented from Cincinnati's Park Board, which is committed to preserving green spaces, the festival's pretty eco-savvy, with abundant bike parking, free water to discourage plastic bottle purchases, entirely compostable serving containers and utensils from vendors, and recycling bins aplenty.
The History Just in its second year, Bunbury takes its name from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, and refers to any fabricated excuse to avoid boring social obligations. Works for us.
Watch Out For... Indie bros who volunteer themselves for the skins team in pickup games of ultimate between sets. Also we recommend devising some kind of drinking game inspired by trendy headliner haircuts—one hearty swig every time you spot someone sporting Jack Antonoff's Hitler youth sidebuzz, MGMT's Marc Bolan hobbit shags or The National's balding indie dad forelock wisps. (Hannah Franklin)