We’re only four weeks into 2017, and yet we could already map out the summer. There’s nothing really shocking about that, though. By now, it’s become customary for major festivals to drop their lineups before Walgreen’s even has a chance to start stocking Valentine’s Day goodies. And really, it’s a relief in the sense that we get to plan ahead and start to put the pieces together on how the entire festival season is going to look.
So far, it’s a pretty mixed bag. That’s not to say there aren’t some intriguing lineups — what the hell do you think this list is for? It’s just that nothing really leaves us looking like this:
Aside from a few banner names, most of the festival offerings look pretty similar. Chance the Rapper is headlining everywhere. So is Frank Ocean. And if you thought Kendrick Lamar was ready to step away from festivals to hit the studio, think again. Of course, none of us are complaining about seeing these names atop the posters; it’s just that they don’t exactly scream 2017. Where is St. Vincent? Isn’t Sky Ferreira putting out an album? Aren’t Gorillaz coming back?
Perhaps we have to wait for the second half of the year to find out — you know, when the Lollapaloozas, the Pitchforks, the FYFs, the ACLS, and the Voodoos put out their lineups. Or maybe, and let’s hope this isn’t the case, more acts have opted out of festivals to tour on their lonesome? Again, it’s too early to find out. The good news is that we have more than enough lineups to sift through, and there are some must-attend events coming up in the months ahead. To help us pare down the offerings, we even teamed up with our good friends over at Your EDM.
10. Middle Lands Festival
MVP Headliner: At a festival as unique as Middlelands, the lineup almost comes second to the experience itself … almost. There’s no headliner distinction on Insomniac lineups, so you have to look a little harder, but they’re there: Major Lazer are known for their showy performances. So putting them in a medieval festival setting is almost guaranteed to bring about exciting results.
Best Gets: But as anyone who’s been to an Insomniac festival knows, sometimes the best sets don’t come from the headliners. To everyone’s surprise, Jurassic 5 was booked for Middlelands, as was Rae Sremmurd, Rich Chigga, and Pouya, representing a strong hip-hop showing that you wouldn’t ever expect. Then there’s still Phantogram, Bonobo, Lido, and more to contend with, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Added Value: To make things even more interesting, Middlelands booked popular actor Kristian Nairn for the festival, better known for portraying the character Hodor on Game of Thrones. Nairn is actually an accomplished producer and DJ and somewhat of an ambassador to the festival, making it all the more authentic.
Can’t-Miss Rookies: And there are even more rising artists you can’t afford to miss, like Elohim, Quix, MSCLS, Pham, Carlyle, Moksi, Sikdope, and more.
Final Thoughts: With Insomniac and C3 Presents, the promoter for festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, teaming up together, there’s no doubt that Middlelands will be one of the best music festivals of the year for electronic music, or at least one of the most unique. And with an extra camping component added, you can expect a lot of themed activities to be going on well into the night.
09. Governors Ball
MVP Headliner: Tool might have a younger generation turning to Wikipedia, but there might not be an act with a more dedicated fanbase in music today. Take into account the fact that the group hasn’t played NYC in 11 years, and you have the makings for a single set that could move tickets regardless of the rest of the lineup.
Best Gets: With the release of the best album of his career in December, Childish Gambino was pegged by many to be a fixture on festival lineups this year. But that hasn’t been the case (maybe blame the Han Solo movie for that), and Gambino’s set at Governors Ball, along with appearances from the likes of Phoenix, Mark Ronson Vs. Kevin Parker, Wu-Tang Clan, Charli XCX, and The Avalanches all stand strong for the New York event.
Added Value: Chance the Rapper is one of the hottest new headliners for the year and figures to bring a massive set as he closes out the first night of Governors Ball. A strong mid-tier, which includes Rae Sremmurd, YG, Air, Cage the Elephant, and Lorde, bodes well for music fans coming out to the three-day fest.
Can’t-Miss Rookies: Electronic wizard The Range is magnetic live and figures to win a lot of new fans on Randall’s Island. On the other side of the spectrum, Los Angeles rising stars Muna figure to become fixtures of music festivals as their career continues, and this might be a good time to get in on the ground floor.
Final Thoughts: With a competing festival taking place just a month later, the remarkable thing about both Governors Ball and Panorama is that they both managed to put together festivals better than many others that don’t have to split the talent pool in two. Following the rainout on the final day of last year’s fest, Govenors Ball is hoping things run smooth and that the festival can rebound. With this lineup, they’re off to a good start.