Who doesn’t love rock stars? And who doesn’t love people who love rock stars? I know I do. And at the top music festivals, it’s all love. And business. And style. Being seen at rock festivals keeps your “it factor” high, your mind elevated, and lets you share time with your music tribe, inhale a head full of happy and float on a few days of the best vibrations around. Festivals are the backbone of the industry star-maker machine. They’re devotedly about breaking the scene and manufacturing music royalty. To break the festival circuit is to play the hottest shows, dethrone the best bands, write the most compelling tunes and for at least three nights straight, have fawning taste-makers eating from the palms of your crafty hands. Festivals are a chance to push boundaries, to see who’s who and to immerse in what the ancients called music magic. A kind of out of body experience that only unfolds in undulating crowds of strange, adoring fans, bands and the spontaneous attractions between them. A festival is like a memorial in the soundtrack of an artful life. Like Beltaine to bronze-age Celts, rock festivals define and reflect the zeitgeist of our time, and proclaim the kings and queens of cool, both on and off-stage. Politicians, the royals and even Hollywood movie stars want to be rock stars. At one time or another everyone yearns to peel back the veil of the elusive music elite and feel what they feel, see what they see, and sound how they sound. Here are 12 of the globe’s best music festivals to do your rock and roll duty sometime in the coming year:
1. South by Southwest SXSW
South By Southwest is simply the best music festival for discovering the next hot thing. Music Industry talent hounds simply can’t afford to miss this one, risking job, allies and their professional reputations for even considering missing it. If you want to experience talent chasers and fans co-mingling and picking each other’s’ style baskets, you’ve got to be at SXSW. And for fans, you’re guaranteed to find your next freakishly favorite band that will make you swoon when you get home. If you only make one festival every year, and you want to stay super ‘scene’, make it to South By Southwest. And you and your almost-famous entourage will bask in the glow of your own coolness for the rest of the year.