Better Than Coachella: The Festivals of Summer

Whether you want to stay local or get out of town, there’s a slew of local music festivals coming up.

Stefan Aronsen

Colossal Clusterfest
Friday-Sunday, June 2-4, at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and Civic Center. $100-$250; clusterfest.com

For an open public space right in the middle of San Francisco, the Civic Center doesn’t really get much love. But after being underutilized for decades, the space will host the first-ever Colossal Clusterfest. The most eye-popping act on the three-day music and comedy festival is the acerbic comic Jerry Seinfeld, who rarely makes live appearances. Los Angeles rapper Vince Staples, one of the most exciting young voices in hip-hop, will perform, as will Ty Segall, the beloved former San Francisco resident and punk-rocker extraordinaire. For laughs, don’t miss Kevin Hart, Fred Armisen, Sarah Silverman, and the Broad City duo of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Stevenson.

Huichica Music Festival
Friday and Saturday, June 9-10, at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. $40-$95; huichica.com

Held at the Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Huichica wins for summer event with the hardest-to-pronounce name. Fans should not be deterred by the festival’s tongue-twisting moniker though, as this laid-back gathering put on by (((folk YEAH!))) features established folk and psych-rock acts like Cass McCombs, Robyn Hitchcock, Beachwood Sparks, and the Allah-La’s. Highlights of the two-day event include Dean Wareham performing songs from his slowcore group Galaxie 500 (disbanded since 1991) and a performance from Curls, the new vehicle from indie icon and ex-Girls frontman Christopher Owens.

Phono del Sol Music Festival
Saturday, June 17, at Potrero del Sol Park, 2827 Cesar Chavez St., San Francisco. $15-$60; phonodelsol.com

Phono del Sol is the perfect antidote to massive, corporate music festivals. Tucked away in a small neighborhood park in Potrero Hill, it’s always heavy on local acts. Two of the biggest names at this year’s festival are rising Oakland shoegaze star Jay Som and longtime San Francisco mainstays Thee Oh Sees — who left for L.A. in 2013, sniff sniff. But there are plenty of lesser-known acts who are worth coming out to see, too: Madeline Kenney is an Oakland musician who sings over dreamy soundscapes, Rayana Jay is an R&B chanteuse with a smoky voice, Duckwrth is a maximalist hip-hop artist who raps over blown-out beats, and Bells Atlas are a feisty indie group who combine the skittish pop nature of groups like Dirty Projectors with the retro-pop sensibilities of Cults. Along with the great music, attendees can nosh on delicious items from an array of local food trucks like Kabob Trolley, Curry Up Now, and Bobcha.

ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival
Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25, at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. $55-$75;  id10tfest.com

There is a lot of promise to this inaugural festival, curated by comedian Chris Hardwick, which features an eclectic combination of musicians and comedians. Musically, fans can check out acts like power-pop icons Weezer, EDM band Zeds Dead, and indie rockers TV on the Radio. For laughs, the festival offers a broad range of comics, from established performers such as The State founder Michael Ian Black, to up-and-comers like Saturday Night Live alum Michael Che, and Garfunkel and Oates, a laugh-out-loud musical-comedy duo comprised of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci.

Burger Boogaloo
Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2, at Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster St., Oakland. $69-$199; burgerboogaloo.com

The Oakland event specializing in scrappy garage-rock, surf-pop, and punk officially hit the big time this year when it managed to land the iconic Iggy Pop as the headliner. Hosted by lowbrow auteur John Waters, the festival has grown from a small showcase of Burger Records bands into an event prestigious enough to bag punk mainstays such as the Buzzcocks, X, and Redd Kross. Even after expanding to two stages, this gathering at Mosswood Park has retained its chill, neighborhood vibe — and last year, the Mummies parked their 1966 Pontiac Bonneville in the middle of the park. Other standout acts include loveable oddballs like Nobunny, Personal and the Pizzas, and hometown favorites Shannon and the Clams.

Northern Nights
Friday – Sunday, July 14-16, at Cooks Valley Campground, 83950 Road 442 E., Piercy, Calif. $229-$329; northernnights.org

Lazy, secluded rivers and rustic, wooded environs might make you think of folksy scenes replete with banjo-picking and washboard-strumming locals. But Northern Nights flips the script. In a campground deep in the woods of Cooks Valley, it’s an immersive experience, featuring progressive electronic artists like Big Wild and Justin Jay, and inventive DJs with stages set up alongside the Eel River. A kind of Burning Man West, few festivals can match Northern Nights for its combination of sensory-enhancing lights shows, party music, and communal enjoyment — a setup only possible when you drop like-minded people in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

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