9 Music Festivals to Attend This Fall

posted by Dan Murphy on September 17, 2014

Austin City Limits 2013 via the festival

Break out your sweaters, because it's Fall festival season! This is the wonderful time leading up to the cold, desolation of winter, so let's make the most of it. How so? Obviously, you should go to a music festival, and the North American festival season doesn't slow down just because it's getting a little chillier. Here are the best ones on this side of the Atlantic. 

Project Pabst

When: September 26-27
Where: Portland, Oregon
Who: Modest Mouse, Tears For Fears, GZA, Rocket From The Crypt, Guided By Voices, Lord Huron, Phosphorescent, and more

This brand new two-day event kind of sounds like every hipster stereotype thrown into a hat: a festival based in Portland featuring exclusively indie acts that's sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. We're one handlebar mustache away from an explosion of pretension, but who cares? This lineup freakin' rules. 

Downtown Festival

Downtown 2013 via the festival

When: October 2-4
Where: Cleveland, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York City, New York; Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas
Who: The War on Drugs, Justin Townes Earle, Future Islands, Deafheaven, Kiesza, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, and more

This traveling festival sees a different lineup in every city where it stops, so unfortunately not every artist mentioned above is playing in every city (that would be too awesome). However, the announced rosters are badass enough on their own to warrant attendance, and the LA and Houston lineups are still forthcoming. 

Austin City Limits

ACL 2013 via the festival

When: October 3-5 and 8-10
Where: Austin, Texas
Who: Eminem, Pearl Jam, Outkast, Skrillex, Beck, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey, Lorde (Weekend Two Only), Foster the People, The Replacements

Austin has attempted to solidify its supposed "Live Music Capital of the World" title for years in no small part by hosting some of the biggest festivals in the world. ACL is no exception, both satisfying mainstream audiences and staying true to the "Keep Austin Weird" mantra by booking some of the most important up-and-comers in the indie scene. 

Treasure Island

Treasure Island 2013 via the festival

When: October 18-19
Where: San Francisco, California
Who: Outkast, Massive Attack, Zedd, Janelle Monáe, Alt-J, St. Lucia, TV on the Radio, The New Pornographers, Jungle

Since 2007, Treasure Island has established itself as a staple in the West Coast music festival scene, specifically for its scenic surroundings on an island off the coast of San Francisco and its solid annual lineup choices. This year's deciding factor is clearly Massive Attack, who were only at a few festivals this year, none of which took place in the states. 

CMJ Music Marathon

Woodkid at CMJ 2013 via the festival

When: October 21-25
Where: New York City, New York
Who: The Kills, Cold War Kids, Bombay Bicycle Club, Slowdive, The Horrors, Courtney Barnett, Twin Peaks, Hunters, San Fermin

CMJ is essentially New York's answer to SXSW: it's the vehicle that breaks new up-and-comers and features no less than a billion showcases in the short span of five days. With a CMJ badge, you can expect to run around NYC non-stop taking in a plethora of good music until you drop. 

Life is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful 2013 via the festival

When: October 24-26
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Who: Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex, Lionel Richie, The Weeknd, The Flaming Lips, Alt-J

Las Vegas' Life Is Beautiful festival boasts one of the most impressive lineups of the year with both Kanye West and Outkast on the bill, not to mention rock acts Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, and The Flaming Lips. It almost reads like "Best Of" list of 2014 music festivals, making it a not-to-miss event of the Fall.

Voodoo Experience

Voodoo Experience 2012 via the festival

When: October 31-November 2
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Who: Foo Fighters, Outkast, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Zedd, Pretty Lights, 30 Seconds to Mars, Slayer, Awolnation

The draw of the Voodoo Experience comes not only from an impressive bill, but also its immersive festival style. Attendees spend their Halloween weekend in the already mystical city of New Orleans to attend what is closer to a carnival than a standard music festival.

HARD Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead 2013 via the festival

When: November 1-2
Where: Pomona, California
Who: Knife Party, Pretty Lights, Diplo, Calvin Harris, Zedd, Bassnectar, deadmau5 vs. Eric Prydz, Zeds Dead, RL Grime

The EDM community collectively lost its mind when this lineup dropped last month. It's a who's who of huge names from the scene over the last five years. Couple that with El Día de Muertos inspired festival design, and this is the place to be for ravers on the West Coast. 

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 via KTSW 89.9

When: November 7-9
Where: Austin, Texas
Who: Modest Mouse, Nas, Judas Priest, Neutral Milk Hotel, Girl Talk, King Diamond, Alt-J, Wiz Khalifa, Death From Above 1979

With the heavy festival rotation in Austin, Fun Fun Fun Fest has garnered a name for itself by breaking many conventions generally practiced by its rivals. Organizers dedicate stages almost solely to rock, hip hop, metal, and comedy, and still snag the most sought-after acts each year. With further perks like skateboarding demos and a diverse food vendor roster, Fun Fun Fun manages to keep it interesting every year. 

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See Also:

Treasure Island 2014 Reveals Daily Lineups
Do You Have What It Takes to Be Mayor of ACL 2014?
Escape Festival Reveals Daily Lineups for 2014