The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

Festival Outlook


    Photo by Joshua Mellin

    Over the last several years, concertgoers have complained that the festival scene is oversaturated. Admittedly, each festival, from Indio to New York City, winds up looking increasingly similar side by side, year after year. In 2014, artists will perform an average of two summer music festivals – and many will play several more. That means fans around the world will collectively witness approximately 3,800 sets from 1,800 artists.

    So, which acts are the biggest culprits?

    For this week’s Festival Outlook, Michael Anderson combed through 100 of the biggest festivals in the market, from Manchester’s Bonnaroo to Oslo’s Øya, to identify the top 10 most overbooked acts at summer music festivals. (Some music fans refer to these with the un-PC term, “festival whores.”) Now, considering a number of major festivals have yet to release a 2014 lineup, we turned an eye to their 2013 bill.

    The bands that follow fit one of three categories: a.) big-time acts who disappeared and are making a comeback, b.) relatively young bands who are quickly becoming a household name (or one-hit wonder), and c.) those that tour without pause. These are the artists who play more than just a couple festivals; they’re so in demand that they’re among the few who play 10 or more.

    Shall we?

    Note: Had every summer festival already announced their lineup, it’s possible Outkast would’ve nabbed the number-one spot, as they’re set to play 40 festivals.

    10. Warpaint

    warpaint The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    Warpaint’s ubiquity shouldn’t surprise; while their music can wander, their rise to fame has been awfully linear. In 2010, they put out one of the most lauded albums of the year, and now they’re back with an album produced by Flood – whose work includes classic albums from the Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and Depeche Mode; a single licensed for a major commercial – “Love is to Die” for Calvin Klein; and a forthcoming multimedia documentary directed by Chris Cunningham – the man behind that Björk video of hot androgynous robots making out. (Full disclosure: Cunningham is the husband of bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg). In addition to their festival dates, Warpaint will appear alongside Queens of the Stone Age on a club tour.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 12

    9. The 1975

    the1975 The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    Like Bastille and Imagine Dragons, The 1975 is a member of the pop-rock class of 2013. They play straightforward rock music, and an intensely catchy single has made each a household name. For The 1975, the song’s called “Chocolate”, and it’s earned 11 million views on YouTube – more than recent hit singles from relative veterans Phoenix and Vampire Weekend. There’s nothing dangerous or risky about this band, but it’s hard to resist the charm of their sound’s smooth sheen and the gentle dance of their guitars.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 12

    8. Rudimental

    rudimental The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    Similar to Disclosure, Rudimental is at the forefront of the British house-music scene. Two of their singles hit No.1 in the UK. Reviews of their live shows have been rapturous. Like one of their influences, Massive Attack, Rudimental’s soundscapes are populated with many voices, from the famous to the more obscure. On stage, the two acts are akin; electronic sounds are crafted live with a full band, which includes the four songwriters, a drummer, a trumpet player, and three singers.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 12

    7. Chance The Rapper

    Image (1) Chance-the-rapper.jpg for post 393484

    Photo by Jeremy Larson

    When he played last year’s Lollapalooza, Chance the Rapper’s crowd overwhelmed the BMI stage. When he was booked, he hadn’t yet released Acid Rap – a mixtape that earned, on average, higher praise than Yeezus – and he hadn’t yet been tapped to open some of the biggest tours of the year (e.g. Eminem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Mac Miller). With new material on the way, including collaborations with new roomie James Blake, we can expect to hear a lot more from Chance in the coming months.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 12

    6. The Black Keys

    the black keys The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    A new album is presumably around the corner – reports about its imminent release have been circulating for over a year – which means The Black Keys should be in full promotional mode come festival season. That being said, when aren’t they? It seems the platinum-selling duo have headlined every major festival in the last several years. They even headlined Coachella two years in a row — for the tail end of the Brothers tour and the beginning of the El Camino cycle.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 13

    5. Foals

    foals del grande 051 The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    Photo by Debi Del Grande

    After years of success in the UK, Foals are finally breaking it stateside, and they’re milking it. When I first saw them, at Lollapalooza in 2008, their crowd was small and jumped up and down to every number. By the time I caught them at last year’s Outside Lands, their following had ballooned tenfold (unfortunately the attendees’ excitement had not). This is after a slow but steady trip to the big time: 2010 single “Spanish Sahara” soundtracked the promos for the penultimate season of Entourage, and last year’s “Inhaler” and “My Number” both found an American audience on alternative radio.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 13

    4. Disclosure

    New York, NY- Jan. 17, 2014  Disclosure performing at Terminal 5

    Photo by Robert Altman

    Fervor for this duo has steadily reached a fever pitch. When their debut dropped last year, publications (including this one) snatched it up immediately, and, by year’s end, they were hailing it a classic. Outside music über-fan circles, they’re catching on, too; a Bay Area radio host – on a station that, presumably, hits repeat on a six-song playlist that includes Eminem and Rihanna’s “The Monster”, in addition to Pharrell’s “Happy” – recently declared that Disclosure was “finally catching on” stateside after their success across the pond. In short: The casual listeners are coming, which means this band’s festival sets will be more packed than they were last season.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 13

    3. Bastille

     The 10 Most Overbooked Acts at Summer Music Festivals

    It’s no surprise why Bastille’s single “Pompeii” has earned the band a spot at over a dozen festivals. After the song found success on alternative-rock radio, it crossed over to adult contemporary and top 40. It’s because the song is undeniably catchy. It’s one to absorb instantly – for its melody – but loathe later; its sense of gravitas affected. Throughout, we hear an enormous “AY-AY-OH AY-OH” as if it’s coming from a chorus of soldiers in a temple with high ceilings. Lead singer Dan Smith croons repeatedly, “And if you close your eyes,” and the vague platitudes that follow I can’t even recall, just the “AY-AY-OH”. But that doesn’t really matter… as long as you do close your eyes, I’m sure plenty of you will feel that way at Boston Calling in Beantown or Governors Ball in the Big Apple.

    Festival appearances (announced thus far): 13

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