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September 22, 2005 7:52 AM   Subscribe

What are some lesser-known (but awesome!) music festivals?

My full-time hobby is scouting artists for a new independent record label. I just finished running the CMJ Marathon and had the time of my life! I plan on attending other large festivals next year (SXSW and Icelandic Airwaves). But we're a small label and many of the acts performing at the larger festivals already have recording deals. I'd like to find some smaller events where I might hope to discover new talent before the major-label A&R guys move in.

These festivals are kinda what I'm looking for:

Green Man
Noise Pop
Athens Popfest
Wall Of Sound

Any others that you would recommend?

Primarily I am interested in hearing adventurous "pop" music, whether it is branded as folktronica, antifolk, space rock, indie rock, lazy pop, IDM, shoegazer, post-rock, or whatever label springs up next week.
posted by mds35 to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oops: Wall Of Sound
posted by mds35 at 7:54 AM on September 22, 2005

Twangfest is on the countrier end of indie rock, so perhaps not quite what you're looking for, but it's a hell of an event nonetheless.

There was supposed to be a festival in Toronto this year called 'Ear to the Ground' that might have been along the lines of what you were looking for, but it got cancelled due to budget issues. Keep an eye out to see if it comes back next year.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:07 AM on September 22, 2005

How about All Tomorrow's Parties on the south coast of England. The line-up is a mix of very leftfield stuff, 'cool' experimental music (Hella, The Locust), and a few popular and good bands (Trail of Dead, Mars Volta).

The festival itself is awesome - three days of non stop party and amazing music.

As the to 'unsigned' criterion, I'm not sure. I should think the majority of bands have deals, but most of them are of the type that just want to put out records and will thus will have multiple simultaneous releases on different labels. Also, I've never been to a better festival for actually mingling with the people that play the music. All the bands watch each other, the band members don't get mobbed and they are very friendly. Therefore, it'd be a good place to get some contacts.

Alernatively, come to Leeds in the UK and see three fantastic, unsigned bands a week.
posted by pollystark at 8:32 AM on September 22, 2005

The Philadelphia Folk Fest
posted by The White Hat at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2005

If you already know about Athens Popfest, what about Athfest, a weekend of rockin' music- all shows outside are free and it's all local. Plus, the CDs they sell showcasing some of the bands rock.
Then again, I don't think most the music at Athfest is pop-oriented; I find it to be more geared towards rock and country though that was from 3 years ago.
posted by jmd82 at 8:48 AM on September 22, 2005

La Route du Rock (hint for non-Francophones: click "English") looks like good fun. This year they had Yo La Tengo, Sonic Yough, !!!, and the Great Lake Swimmers, which is good enough for me. I wanted to go, but found out about it too late, and was going to Green Man the following week anyway.

If you were coming from the UK this year Condor Ferries could arrange transport and a ticket. I assume a similar deal will be available next year.
posted by caek at 8:51 AM on September 22, 2005

One of the premier gagrage fests has to be Sleazefest, held in Chapel Hill, NC every August.
posted by NoMich at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2005

posted by wsg at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2005

If you're ever in the UK around September check out Bestival.
posted by oh pollo! at 9:02 AM on September 22, 2005

MACRoCK has always been a fun festival featuring upcoming bands. Their past schedule is not online so here is a pitchfork link that tells an inadequate bit about it. It's also featured Mr. Lif, Little Brother, Prefuse 73, Animal Collective, Q and not U, Kid 606, Dashboard Confessional [a long time ago], and tons more.

Additionally, a friend and I put on a music festival here in Charlottesville two years ago called Fest Full of Rock... it featured RJD2, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hopesfall, The Unicorns, Broken Spindles, Magnolia Electric Co., Engine Down, El Guapo [aka supersystem], and The Out Circuit. 'Twas quite the success and I think one is happening this year, but I don't plan on getting involved with it.
posted by cloeburner at 9:21 AM on September 22, 2005

The Truck Festival is probably the most well known independent UK festival, and has unsigned/relatively unknown bands a-plenty.
posted by anagrama at 9:33 AM on September 22, 2005

Pushing, perhaps the definition of "IDM," i'd throw out there: Mutek, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival/DEMF/Movement Festival, Fuse-In, SF's Love Parade, Berlin's Popkomm, Decibel Festival, High Zero (in Baltimore)...etc etc etc...
posted by tpl1212 at 9:40 AM on September 22, 2005

There's a music festival at my place tonight, starting around 7:30. I'll be spinning some wax from my collection, kicking back in a recliner, and generally taking it easy.

You're welcome to stop by, and please bring any interesting vinyl you'd like played.

We might do it again next Tuesday, if you can't make it tonight.
posted by rocketman at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Fuse-In was an amazing time. I might have to go again.
posted by cloeburner at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2005

posted by ITheCosmos at 9:48 AM on September 22, 2005

Might be more hippies than you're looking for, but here's one around me:
posted by joshgray at 9:50 AM on September 22, 2005

A second vote for Sleazefest, it's part of why I moved to the Chapel Hill area. The region has also started a more general SXSW-type festival, Troika, held at the end of August.
posted by bendybendy at 9:51 AM on September 22, 2005

The Hillside Music Festical in Guelph, Ontario.

Great music, and a goddamn good time.
posted by generichuman at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2005

Terrastock, if it ever starts up again. It's certainly got the space rock covered.
posted by ubersturm at 10:09 AM on September 22, 2005

Anti-Pop Music Fest in Orlando (Google Fu failing to find the official website) and Bumbershoot in Seattle is terriffic.
posted by Heminator at 10:20 AM on September 22, 2005

Each spring Relix magazine publishes an impressive listing of upcoming festivals. Not just jambands either.
posted by terrapin at 10:24 AM on September 22, 2005

Damnit, there it is: Anti Pop
posted by Heminator at 10:24 AM on September 22, 2005

Blues Fest (sorry, you just missed it)

I'm also looking for a link to the Chunky River Blues Festival in Chunky, MS.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:08 AM on September 22, 2005

The Leaf Fesitval
posted by juggler at 11:09 AM on September 22, 2005

I always enjoy Comfest here in Columbus. It's billed as, "arguably the largest free,
non-corporate urban music and arts festival in the US." Three full days of bands on six stages. And there'll be beer.
posted by Otis at 11:13 AM on September 22, 2005

juggler: LEAF stands for lake eden arts festival, so "leaf festival" is redundant. Tourist ;)
Leaf is great, and I second the recommendation.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:30 AM on September 22, 2005

Here is a festival guide.
posted by mic stand at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2005

Evolve is fun. Over for this year though.
posted by stray at 1:36 PM on September 22, 2005

King Biscuit Festival
posted by wsg at 1:56 PM on September 22, 2005

Sounds like Mid Point Music Festival might be what you're looking for.
posted by cramer at 2:50 PM on September 22, 2005

Audioscope - happening in Oxford next month, is always awesome. And it's for charity.
posted by nylon at 3:44 PM on September 22, 2005

Magnolia/Spring Fest...

Magnolia Music & Events
posted by mhuckaba at 5:22 PM on September 22, 2005

Sorry, those festivals are mostly folk acts, but they do have some edgy groups.
posted by mhuckaba at 5:26 PM on September 22, 2005

I second MACRock. The town is small and it's a very doable festival in an inexpensive city.

I went to JMU (in the town where the thing is held) and I never went once. Now I'm here in Chicago and paying $$ to see all those artists (like Of Montreal) at local clubs...when I could've seen them for next to nothing in Harrisonburg, VA.
posted by awegz at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2005

The International Pop Overthrow. I've been to a couple of shows from each of the last two Chicago festivals, and it's been much fun.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:32 PM on September 22, 2005

posted by atom128 at 6:50 PM on September 22, 2005

I know a few people who've gone to Reggae on the River, but I hear it's over. [brain-deadening drumloop on that link]
posted by scarabic at 6:59 PM on September 22, 2005

Cleveland Music Festival.

Or, if you're open to jazz try the Tri-C Jazz Fest.
posted by stuart_s at 9:30 PM on September 22, 2005

Response by poster: You guys rock! Thanks, everyone!
posted by mds35 at 6:53 AM on September 23, 2005

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