Hive Five: Under the Radar Summer Music Fests

Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle. Photo: Curt Doughty

We love the large festival setting as much as the next person, but there’s something to be said about a well executed, smaller affair. Here’s five summer festivals that look quite appealing to our ears and wallets, that also offer a bit of intimacy.

1. Mutek: Montreal, June 1-5

Lineup: Plastikman, Amon Tobin, Four Tet, arp, Modeskeletor, DEEPCHORD presents ECHOSPACE, FM Radio Gods, Gold Panda, Murcof + Antivj, Poirier, Siriusmo

Since 2000, Mutek, a not-for-profit organization spreading the gospel on electronic music and the digital arts, consistently culls together a lineup that rivals anything Europe can offer. Expect everything from bespectacled knob-twiddlers to full bands.

2. Do Division Street Fest: Chicago, June 4-5

Lineup: Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Bonobo, A Place to Bury Strangers, Big Freedia & the Divas with Rusty Lazer, Javelin, Thao & Mirah, Dengue Fever, White Mystery

Summertime in Chicago means a street festival on every block, but we’re digging this one for its diverse lineup curated by local promoters Empty Bottle Presents and Subterranean/House Call Entertainment. Why we love this fest: It’s the only place you can see the abrasive feedback-laden rock of A Place to Bury Strangers followed by the New Orleans bounce of Big Freedia  — but in a much homier environment.

3. Northside Festival: Brooklyn, New York, June 16-19

Lineup: Guided by Voices, Beirut, Yacht, Atlas Sound, Wavves, Surfer Blood, Deer Tick, Sharon Van Etten, DOM, Twin Sister, Thee Oh Sees

While New York City’s certainly tried to get into the summer festival game over the last decade with All Points West and 2003′s Field Day Fest debacle, L Magazine might’ve finally gotten it right: Focus entirely around Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, get a slew of bands with a just a few big names and keep the ticket prices low.

4. Capitol Hill Block Party: Seattle, July 22-24

Lineup: TV on the Radio, Explosions in the Sky, Thurston Moore, Battles, Ra Ra Riot, Les Savy Fav, Kurt Vile, Yuck, Fucked Up, Cults, Austra

Although dwarfed by Sasquatch! and Bumbershoot, Seattle’s mid-summer Capitol Hill Block Party reigns in a consistent lineup of indie starts that tends to rival the best afternoons at Coachella.

5. Afro-Punk: Brooklyn, New York, August 27-28

Lineup: Cee-Lo, Santigold, Janelle Monae, Fishbone, Jay Electronica, Toro Y Moi, Toshi Reagon, Ninjasonik, Cerebral Ballzy, Gordon Voidwell, Reggie Watts

Following up on the success of Afro-Punk, the 2003 documentary spotlighting African-Americans and punk music, filmmakers Matthew Morgan and James Spooner launched the first Afro-Punk Festival in 2005 to immediate praise. It has since become one of the city’s most celebrated festivals, as evidenced by the strongest lineup to date. In addition to the music, check out the Streets, Skate and BMX competition, and Bites and Beats Food Truck, featuring more than 20 Brooklyn vendors.

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