Submitted Date 01/24/2019

The Top 5 Music Festivals I've Ever Been To


I went to my very first music festival ever in June of 2013. Since then, I’ve been to all kinds of music festivals all across the country. Some camping, some non-camping. Some big, some small. Some only two days, some as many as four. Looking back, it’s hard to choose which ones were my favorite, because each music festival I’ve been to has been unique in its own way. I’m going to try and narrow it down to my top five though.


5. North Coast – Chicago, Illinois

My fifth favorite music festival that I’ve been to is North Coast. This music festival is one of my favorites because it is one of the very first music festivals I’ve ever attended. This three day non-camping festival takes place in my home city, Chicago. Chicago is home to lots of different music festivals including Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening, Riot Fest, and more. The reason I like North Coast so much is that the crowd of people there are so laidback and kind and just all around cool. I haven’t attended this festival since 2016 and have heard from other people that the vibes of the festival have changed for the worse, but I can’t confirm whether that’s true or not. In my eyes, it’s still the same amazing festival I’ve always known it to be. With four different stages, tons of great food and drink vendors, and a living art gallery, this festival remains one of my favorites. Not to mention that it’s right off the Green Line, making it extremely easy to get to for anyone living in Chicago.


4. Moods of the Madison – Ennis, Montana

My fourth favorite music festival I’ve been to happens to also be the smallest music festival I’ve ever attended. In 2016, I drove 22 hours from the Chicago suburbs where I live to the mountain town of Ennis, Montana because my favorite artist, Bassnectar, was scheduled to headline a tiny festival I’d never heard of called Moods of the Madison. This camping festival was only two days long and had no more than twenty names on the lineup between those two days. What made this festival so great? The fact that it was so small also made it extremely intimate. There were no huge lines for the bathrooms or food vendors. Everything was extremely walkable. There was plenty of space for everyone to dance at the one stage they had, so no one felt all cramped together like they do at most larger festivals. Everyone had a great spot for the show and didn’t feel the need to push through to get to the front because everyone was already at the front. Not to mention that everywhere you looked you saw mountains. It may not have had the big production that some larger festivals have, but being in the middle of the mountains listening to my favorite artist in such an intimate setting was an experience that I will never forget.


3. Electric Forest – Rothbury, Michigan

Ranking in at number three is the wildly popular four day camping festival, Electric Forest. I attended this music festival in both 2015 and 2016. The best thing about this music festival, in my opinion, is the production. It is truly like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Picture this. You enter the festival and are immediately greeted with music blasting from the Tripolee stage. Everyone around you is dancing and greeting you with a huge smile and an enthusiastic, “Happy Forest!” The joy that people exude at this festival is contagious. You continue on through the festival and find yourself underneath a huge wooden sign with the words “Sherwood Forest” printed on it. This is where things really get magical. Huge oak trees tower above you, walking performers wearing stilts or Marie Antoinette-esque dresses wander around, giant art installations are placed throughout. At night time, the lights go on and everything is illuminated in bright blues, purples, and greens. This festival is one of the largest ones I’ve been to. The forest itself is so big, with so many hidden spots to stumble across, making it easy to get lost inside of it. If you want to feel transported to another world, Electric Forest is the perfect place. It truly is magical. Kind of like Disney World for adults, but with tons of great music instead of rides and walking performers instead of Disney characters. The main reason that this festival doesn’t rank higher for me is that because it is so large, it tends to be very overcrowded. And the more people you have in one place, the more likely you are to run into some not so great people. My second experience at this festival definitely wasn’t as great as my first, mostly due to overcrowding and lots of rude people, but I would like to go back to give it another shot now that I’ve had a few years away from it because nothing quite compares to the level of production that this festival has.


2. Summer Camp, Chillicothe, Illinois

Now, for my second favorite music festival. Summer Camp. This is another home state festival, but the closeness of it is only one of many reasons why I love this festival so much. This four day camping festival feels like home to me. It was my first ever camping festival back in 2014, so it will always hold a very sentimental place in my heart. While the production level is not nearly as extreme as Electric Forest, the crowd and the vibe there is much more my speed. Everyone is so laidback and very rarely try to push through to get to the front or make snide comments at you like I’ve had people do to me at Electric Forest. But one of the best things about this festival that really sets it apart from other ones is that the campgrounds are not separate from the festival grounds. One other thing I didn’t mention that really sucks about Electric Forest is having to trek all the way from your campsite, which is sometimes nearly a mile away, to get to the entrance to the festival grounds and then having to wait in an hour (sometimes two hour) line to get inside. At Summer Camp, there is no waiting in line to get into the festival grounds because you’re already in them. This means that you can easily go to and from your campsite throughout the day without ever having to walk too far or wait in a line to get back inside the festival. It’s pretty great. If there’s an artist performing at 2:00 that you want to see, but after that, no one you want to see plays until 6:00, you don’t have to wander the festival aimlessly for those three hours in between sets. You can go back to your campsite and hang out until the next artist you see goes on. One last reason I love Summer Camp so much is that it always has a really great variety of music. Everything from EDM to jam bands to reggae to rap. They always go out of their way to create a really great, diverse lineup so that you have some variety over the course of the four days you’re there.


1. Camp Bisco – Scranton, Pennsylvania

Now, for the big one. My number one top favorite music festival that I’ve attended so far. Camp Bisco. Most of you probably associate Scranton, Pennsylvania as home to Dunder Mifflin from the TV show, The Office. I associate it as home to the most unique three day camping festival I’ve been to so far. First off, it takes place at a ski resort called Montage Mountain. The campgrounds are literally on a mountain. This factor is usually why most people I’ve talked to hate it. However, this is part of the reason I love it so much. There’s something about dragging a bunch of camping gear up a mountain and then working together to set your tent up on it that really bonds people together for life. This festival takes place in the middle of July, so it gets hot. Luckily, they have a water park complete with a lazy river, wave pool, and slides for you to cool off in during the day. That’s right. Water park by day, music festival by night. There’s even a Wave Pool Stage so you can listen to music while in the pool. That in itself makes it one of the coolest festivals I’ve ever been to. On top of that, this festival always comes through with one of the best lineups each year. They may not do any extravagant production like festivals such as Electric Forest do, but they really don’t need it in my opinion. The view from the mountain (especially at sunset) is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and it seems that all the artist always bring their A game at this music festival. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a set that was less than fantastic at this festival. Yes, carrying your camping gear up the side of a mountain kind of sucks. Yes, it gets very hot there. And yes, you probably will roll down to the edge of your blow up mattress while you sleep because you’re camped on an incline. But honestly, all of those things contribute to the unique experience that you get out of this festival. Both years that I attended, the first being 2015 and the last being just last year in 2018, I had some of the most fun I’ve ever had and seen some of the best musical performances I’ve ever seen. It may be a bit of a shitshow, but it is my favorite shitshow there ever was.


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  • Miranda Fotia 5 years, 3 months ago

    Great piece! Thanks for sharing!