Your Midwest Summer Music Festival Guide

Jul 3, 2014

Credit Des Moines Register

The music festival season is well under way, and as the fourth of July weekend approaches there are several to choose from around the Midwest depending on what kind of music you enjoy, and how far you would like to travel. But even if you already have plans for this weekend there are several upcoming festivals that are taking place on various dates throughout the summer

If you would like to stay closer to home, there are events like the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival taking place at the scenic LeClaire Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, July 3 – 5. Every year they include a mix of national and regional blues artists. This year for their 30th annual edition the lineup includes acts such as Curtis Salgado, Preston Shannon, and Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang.  

You don’t have to travel out of the state to find one of Top Ten Jazz festivals in the country, plus it’s free. The Iowa City Jazz Festival will take place July 3 – 5. If you can not make it in person you can tune in to a live broadcast of the main stage performances on KCCK 88.3 HD-2 if you live in the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids area or you can listen online here.

For you indie rockers out there, the 80/35 Music Festival is happening July 4 – 5 in Des Moines. The main headliners this year are Conner Oberst and Cake. And while you do have to pay for main stage access, there is still plenty of free music and activities for people of all ages.

Even at the end of the summer, another festival to look forward to in the early fall is the Maximum Ames Music Festival on September 25 – 28.  The four-day event will include performances from William Elliott Whitmore, Low and Elephant Revival.

If you would like to make a road trip sometime over the summer there are quite a few festivals going on across the Midwest to suite a variety of musical tastes.

Summerfest, the world's largest music festival has already begun in Milwaukee, WI but there is still four more days left out of this eleven-day music extravaganza where more than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan, Some of the remaining headliners are Zac Brown, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and Usher. But you can also find artists like New Order, The Hold Steady, Phantogram, and Bombino.

On the grounds of Macalester College, the Prairie Home Companion 40th Anniversary Celebration will take place over the holiday weekend July 4 – 6.  Many activities are free, including a Community Sing-Along with Garrison Keillor at noon Sunday. The Saturday show is sold out, but there are still tickets for Friday night.

After the fourth of July celebrations there are several music festivals going on in Chicago to catch some of your favorite indie artists.

The first is Pitchfork, July 18 – 20 at Chicago's Union Park, where Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Kendrick Lamar will headline with additional performances from St. Vincent, Dum Dum Girls, and Tune-Yards. There are still tickets available for Friday and Saturday.

All the regular and VIP passes are already sold out for Lollapalooza 2014 that’s going down in Grant Park, August 1 – 3, but if you have some major cash to spend there are still platinum 3-day passes available for a mere $3,600. The lineup includes major acts like Eminem, Outkast, and Kings of Leon as well as other contenders like Childish Gambino, Spoon, and Broken Bells.

This is the third year for Riot Fest at Humboldt Park in Chicago, September 12 – 14. What began as a multi-venue festival put together by DIY punk rock enthusiasts in 2005, Riot Fest now includes three stages along with a carnival, all in one location. The Cure, Jane's Addiction and Weezer are among the headliners at this Humboldt Park festival along with The Dandy Warhols, City and Colour, and The National.

There are other notable indie music festivals in the Midwest such as Maha Music Festival in Omaha on Saturday, August 16, featuring Death Cab For Cutie, The Head and the Heart, and Local Natives. And if you have your heart set on catching the Outkast reunion this summer, you can still so at LouFest in St. Louis this September 6 – 7. Portugal. The Man, Arctic Monkeys, and Future Islands are also on the bill.

Maybe Americana music is more of what you are looking for. The Mile of Music festival features over 200 artists from various genes such as folk, soul, jazz, country, and indie rock. The four-day event will be held in downtown Appleton, Wisconsin on August 7 – 10. Cory Chisel, The Autumn Defense (featuring members of Wilco), Nikki Lane, and the Baseball Project (featuring members of REM) are just some of the artists you will find there.

And for those who love the EDM experience. Kansas City hosts Dancefestopia 2014 September 12  – 13. Along with camping made available, it is located on the river with 50 artists on 3 stages and music till 5:30am.  A few of the headliners are Beats Antique, Vic Mensa, and Flux Pavilion. You can even catch chartered party buses headed to Dancefestopia in select cities, like Des Moines.

But if festivals are not your thing that’s okay, you can still catch some of your favorite artists at smaller venues and events. Either way you choose, take some time to enjoy some good live music this summer.