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Easy, Noisy Living: Nor-Cal's Best Summer Music Festivals 

Wednesday, May 29 2013
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Festival season may have begun months ago, but it's still just getting started. The warmest months of the year produce more outdoor music events in Northern California than any sane person can keep track of. To help you through them, we've compiled this breezy guide to the best events both within S.F. and in easy driving range. There are family-friendly festivals, riverside bacchanals, and lots of good places for the pale-skinned and desk-bound to get out of doors. So consider your options, buy your tickets well in advance, and don't forget the suntan lotion.

Huichica Music Festival

June 14-15

Headliners: Blitzen Trapper, Fruit Bats, Damien Jurado, Cass McCombs

Expect: A food, wine, and music festival for the DIY pickling set.

Where: Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma

Pricing: $18 (Friday-only ticket) to $90 (VIP two-day pass)

What's special: It offers a top-notch indie-folk lineup and posh grub without the snooty vibes.

Stern Grove Festival

June 16-Aug. 18

Headliners: Deltron 3030, Shuggie Otis, S.F. Symphony

Expect: To get there early if you want clear views of the stage.

Where: Sigmund Stern Grove Park, 19th and Sloat, S.F.

Pricing: Free!

What's special: There's a major free concert in S.F. every Sunday afternoon for most of the summer.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

June 21-23

Headliners: Damian and Stephen Marley, SOJA, Max Romeo, Bombino

Expect: Paeans to peace, love, and Jah; ganja smoke.

Where: Mendocino County Fair, Boonville

Pricing: $64.29 (Friday-only ticket) to $180.34 (three-day pass)

What's special: It's a reggae-leaning music festival in the weed capital of the world.

Rockstar Mayhem Festival

June 30

Headliners: Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, Machinehead

Expect: Pentagram tattoos, neck beards, power chords.

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

Pricing: $42-$93.90; $200 (VIP)

What's special: It will be the longest exposure to sunlight many of these people get all year.

High Sierra Music Festival

July 4-7

Headliners: Robert Plant, Primus, Thievery Corporation, moe.

Expect: A mini-Bonnaroo in the mountains.

Where: Plumas Sierra Fairgrounds, Quincy

Pricing: $85 (single-day pass) to $205 (four-day pass)

What's special: It offers a family-friendly Fourth of July camping trip with lots of live music.

Fillmore Jazz Festival

July 6-7

Headliners: Kim Nalley, Crystal Monee Hall, Afrolicious

Expect: Three stages of music, and the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast.

Where: Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy, S.F.

Pricing: Free!

What's special: You get to savor the old flavor of the Fillmore, once a world capital of jazz.

Phono Del Sol Music Festival

July 13

Headliners: Thee Oh Sees, YACHT, Bleached, Marnie Stern

Expect: A pleasant afternoon chilling in one of the city's under-appreciated parks.

Where: Potrero Del Sol Park, Potrero and Cesar Chavez, S.F.

Pricing: $20-$25

What's special: You get to see some of the best indie rock bands anywhere playing in the sunshine.

Reggae on the River

Aug. 1-4

Headliners: Julian Marley, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley and Blak Soil

Expect: A swimsuit bacchanal.

Where: French's Camp on the South Fork Eel River, 10 miles south of Garberville

Pricing: $190 (three-day festival pass) to $250 (four-day early arrival pass), camping included.

What's special: For its 29th edition, Reggae on the River is returning to its traditional home in the Redwoods.

Outside Lands Music Festival

Aug. 9-11

Headliners: Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix

Expect: The closest thing Northern California has to Coachella, except with fog and wind.

Where: Golden Gate Park, S.F.

Pricing: $249 (three-day pass) to $545 (three-day VIP pass); single-day ticket prices TBA

What's special: Paul McCartney, for one thing; plus, the Outside Lands mix of music, food, and drink bests any other big local festival.

First City Festival

Aug. 24-25

Headliners: Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, MGMT, Beach House

Expect: Skinny jean- (or skinny cut-off-) types rocking out and giggling on carnival rides.

Where: Monterey County Fair and Event Center, Monterey

Pricing: $149.50 (two-day pass) to $279.50 (two-day VIP pass)

What's special: A primo lineup of indie bands kicks off the inaugural edition of this event.

Rock the Bells

Sept. 14-15

Headliners: Wu-Tang Clan, Big K.R.I.T, Danny Brown, Tyler the Creator

Expect: Gut-rumbling beats; words your mom wouldn't like.

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

Pricing: $115.75 to $265.50 for two-day passes

What's special: Where else are you going to catch a hologram performance of Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E?

About The Author

Ian S. Port

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