Four Great Music Fests - 2008
Coachella gets all the hype when it comes to California music festivals, but there are plenty of excellent offerings much closer to home. The best of these is, of course, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, because it's free and filled with big names. But since we've noted that one elsewhere in our recommendations, here are four other favorites well worth the admission price.
Treasure Island Music Festival
This is only the second year for the big festival on the little island, but we're banking on it being just as much fun as year one. Treasure Island Music Festival brings you some familiar names from the summer's amphitheatre events (last year, that included M.I.A., Spoon, Modest Mouse, and DJ Shadow) in a setting that's cozy without feeling like a cattle call. Hosted by Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, little details like local artist booths, a Ferris wheel, and a cinematic view of the San Francisco skyline combine to make this Indian summer weekend (September 20 and 21) pretty spectacular, Bay Area style. Tickets cost $62.50 for one day, $115 for two. A VIP Four-Pack (four one-day tickets) with parking is $475.
Across the bay, October brings Budget Rock, a marathon weekend of punk rock 'n' roll at the Stork Club in Oakland. Previous years have featured hot-dog-eating contests, vinyl swamps, flea markets, and plenty of beer. But you don't need all the fancy lowbrow trimmings to commit to this long weekend of rowdy entertainment. Garage rockers from around the country share the stage with local celebs and reunions by underground legends like the Real Kids. Admission is $10 for one day, or three days for $25.
(((folkYEAH!))) may be based in Monterey, but promoter Britt Govea involves many a San Franciscan with the shows he presents. The music fanatic pulls the best of our local psych/folk/heavy rock scene and sets them up at destination festivals along the coast — usually the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur and the "haunted" Brookdale Lodge in the hills above Santa Cruz. The likes of Vetiver, Comets on Fire, and the Court and Spark have entertained camping throngs of hippie hipsters under this banner. Admission prices vary.
San francisco Jazz Festival
This fall festival has been a mainstay for jazz fanatics for the past nine years, showcasing top talent from clubs to concert halls (last year's performance by Pharoah Sanders at Grace Cathedral was absolutely a spiritual experience). SFJAZZ, the nonprofit that runs the fest, produces programming year round, including community outreach and the SF Jazz Spring Season concerts. Numerous jazz heavies have appeared over its near decade; it's a place to see legends near the end of their careers (Alice Coltrane) as well as the younger hipsters with a long road ahead (the Bad Plus). The spring season's remaining highlights include the Miles from India project on May 31, Brad Mehldau Trio on June 6, and Gilberto Gil on July 2. Admission prices vary.