West Coast Festival Guide: Looking Back to Plan Ahead
Already planning your next round of festivals? We’ve got you covered, from the Golden State to the Pacific Northwest.
Ahh, music festivals. For many of us, these multifaceted gatherings are basically heaven on earth. From massive mainstays like Coachella and Burning Man to more intimate gatherings in the woods, desert, and even on the beach, there’s a party out there for everyone. Loud music, mind-bending art, delicious food, connecting with friends both old and new… who could ask for more? Add a healthy dose of cannabis to the equation and you’ve got a recipe for a fantastic experience.
While the 2018 festival season is nearly over, it is never too early to start planning your adventures for next year. That said, there are dozens upon dozens of parties out there and picking only a few (or even just one) can be a daunting task. Luckily for you, several of us here at Mychron are seasoned festival veterans and we’re only too happy to be your guide, your guru, your party sherpa, if you will. To that end, we’ve put together a list of the best events that went down this summer; we’re certain you’ll find one that catches your attention. Check it out below.
Lightning in a Bottle || Bradley, CA
Curated by The Do Lab, Lightning in a Bottle has grown from humble beginnings into one of the most desirable festival destinations in the country. Perched on the shores of Lake San Antonio in Central California, this event is akin to living inside a dream for several days. From musical performances on stages both colossal and intimate to burlesque shows and workshops with some of the foremost minds in our community, there’s no shortage of things to do and see. Set up camp and prepare to dance, swim, stretch, and explore to your heart’s content.
“Music, art, yoga, meditation, workshops, speakers, performances, camping for up to 5 days. The BEST transformational music festival. A pack your own trash policy + a green team ensures a very clean environment. Even after my 8th year, it still seems to get better every time.”
- Henry P. || LIB Attendee
Past Performances: Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Bassnectar, ZHU, Tipper, Emancipator, Sango
Outside Lands || San Francisco, CA
Every August, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park magically transforms into Outside Lands: an all-out celebration of California culture. That means beer, wine, fashion, and, of course, stellar musical offerings. There’s even a full-fledged comedy lineup to keep you smiling throughout the weekend. The festival also made quite a few waves this year with the inclusion of an all new area: Grass Lands. A cannabis-themed town square with all the ganja products you could imagine, this new addition to Outside Lands excites us beyond belief; we’re already looking forward to seeing it expand next year!
“The music, the food, the comedy, the atmosphere. It's my favorite music festival hands down! I've been 10 years in a row, and I've never been disappointed! ” - Mary S. || OSL Attendee
Past Performances: The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine, Janet Jackson, Future, Beck
Northern Nights || Piercy, CA
While all the festivals on this list are great in their own regards, Northern Nights holds a special place in our hearts. For one, the venue is stunningly beautiful. It’s nestled alongside a bend in Humboldt’s Eel River and provides a natural swimming hole, a centuries old redwood grove, and ample space for dancing. The lineup always comes correct, blending electronic music, live bands, hip-hop and performance art together seamlessly. And the cherry on top? Northern Nights hosts a canna-centric 215 Zone, paying homage to all the Emerald Triangle has to offer in terms of herbal goodness. Now that cannabis is recreational in California, we can’t wait to see how this zone evolves.
“Went for the music and came back with so much more. Northern Nights somehow manages to provide a sense of community that no other festival can match. You are encouraged to be your full uninhibited self and are not only accepted but celebrated for it. Northern Nights also happens to be held in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and the festival is fully committed to being environmentally friendly so we can continue to enjoy this beautiful space.”
- Austin || NNMF Attendee
Past Performances: Mr. Carmack, Brasstracks, Living Legends, Talib Kweli, G Jones
Bumbershoot || Seattle, WA
Bumbershoot is one of the longest running festivals on the West Coast, and for good reason: it provides an experience like no other. Since 1972, the festival has attracted thousands of attendees to Washington’s sprawling Seattle Center for a weekend of art in all its various forms. While the performance lineup is always on point, the event goes beyond a music festival; it’s a multi-disciplinary celebration featuring music, comedy, theatre, visual arts, film, and much more. And seriously, who doesn’t want to dance the night away under the Space Needle? If you’re looking to travel for some festivities next year, this one needs to be on your list.
“The programming at Bumbershoot strives to be a contemporary microcosm of what is current across all disciplines and genres within those art forms, giving our audience opportunities few other festivals in the world offer.”
- Bumbershoot Mission Statement
Past Performances: Flume, The Roots, Haim, Lil Wayne, Mura Masa
What the Festival || Wolf Run Ranch, OR
Easily one of the most magical festivals in the country, What the Festival must be experienced to be truly believed. It’s like a slice of Burning Man blew away in a particularly nasty dust storm and landed in the forested foothills of Oregon. This boutique event features 8 stages of electronic & live music, Funktion One sound, movement classes, and the world’s largest temporary wading pool. Yeah, you read that right; there’s a weekend-long pool party here. ‘Nuff said. The team behind WTF took 2018 off to recuperate, but we’re sure the 2019 incarnation will be one for the books; be there.
“Our mission is simple: We want to move your bodies, senses, and souls. We want you to leave feeling connected and to be inspired from your full immersion into art, music, and community.”
- WTF Mission Statement
Past Performances: Gramatik, Haywyre, NastyNasty, Rezz, Classix, Barclay Crenshaw, Lafa Taylor
Reggae on the River || Piercy, CA
Reggae on the River focuses on two things: community and irie, high vibe music. Now in its 34th year and co-produced by High Times, the festival brings out the best in both modern and traditional reggae, dub, and dancehall; there’s even a little ska thrown in for good measure. Plus, the event is hosted on virtually the same property as Northern Nights. That means you get to enjoy the soothing sounds of reggae bass lines while exploring the redwood groves and the cool waters of the Eel River. And while you won’t find a 215 Zone here, it’s a safe bet that ganja smoke will be floating through the air all weekend.
“The secret to a good show is not the music… music is an integral part; I’d put it at number two. What would be number one? Community. The sense of community… If you can create that magic among a large group of people for a long period of time… ideally several nights, that creates a sense of community.”
- Doug Green || ROTR Creator
Past Performances: Iration, Israel Vibration, The Original Wailers, Don Carlos, Busy Signal
California Roots || Monterey, CA
Don’t let the name fool you: California Roots isn’t all about California or roots reggae music. The festival provides an immersive blend of reggae, rock, folk, and hip-hop, with artists both homegrown and international. Since its inception in 2010, Cali Roots has attracted fans from all walks of life, making the vibes here some of the best around. Look around during any performance at the now legendary Bowl stage and you’ll see smiles for miles. It’s a beautiful thing. Fun fact: the event takes place at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the same venue where Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire back in 1967.
“California Roots is a celebration of unity in the reggae community, delivering a cosmic blend of good vibes, family, happiness, peace, and love.”
- High Times
Past Performances: Rebelution, Steel Pulse, Atmosphere, E-40, Tash Sultana, Ozomatli
Upstream Music Festival + Summit || Seattle, WA
Taking place in Pioneer Square, the heart of Seattle’s arts district, Upstream gets a ton of points from us for their “open campus” mentality. The event features two main stages that function as a home base, with over 15 separate venues surrounding them. Guests are welcome to wander freely between the many attractions, allowing for serendipitous meetings between creators and fans. The lineup is extremely eclectic, featuring national and international acts alongside hundreds of up & coming performers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Adding to the experience is the Summit, a one day conference featuring artists, music industry professionals, event producers and creative directors who all have significant experience navigating this ever-changing industry.
Past Performances: Miguel, The Flaming Lips, Little Dragon, Pomo, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kamaiyah, Tacocat
Dry Diggings || Placerville, CA
One of the newer festivals on the West Coast circuit, Dry Diggings is quickly making a name for itself. A powerhouse reggae lineup coupled with camping and plenty of craft beer is a tried and true recipe for an excellent time. However, that’s far from all this event has to offer. Mimosas for all on Saturday morning? Check. A cabana style village and water park? Check. Cannabis infused yoga sessions!? That’s a big check. There’s even a full-fledged skate park with several competitions throughout the weekend. Definitely make sure this one is on your list for next year.
Past Performances: SOJA, Collie Budz, Stephen Marley, Common Kings, JBoog
KAABOO || Del Mar, CA
Another new addition in an ever-expanding market, KAABOO and the team behind it put a ton of energy into re-defining the festival experience. Musically, they provide a world-class lineup featuring everything from rock and pop to R&B and hip-hop. This is combined with incredible cuisine, craft libations, comedy acts, contemporary art, dancing and much more. Essentially, this event seeks to tantalize all five of your senses. On top of that, the weather in Del Mar is almost always perfect, so you can enjoy everything KAABOO has to offer while barely breaking a sweat.
“Forget what you know about music festivals, we’ve shifted the paradigm and built something new. KAABOO is the perfect weekend escape, described in a word that comes from whatever the hell we feel like yelling when we’re high on life and having fun.”
- KAABOO Mission Statement
Past Performances: The Foo Fighters, N.E.R.D., Cake, TLC, Stone Temple Pilots, Gucci Mane