Coachella’s expansion to two weekends doesn’t really prove that more listeners than ever crave a weekend in a remote town at the mercy of desert weather, so much as it affirms the dominance of festivals in the summer’s musical landscape. The Bay Area and its more temperate climes is a principal stop for many such tours and the hometown, so to speak, of other fests. (Added bonus: unlike a certain SoCal desert extravaganza, purchasing tickets to most of these events does not require a payment plan.)
One of the largest dance music festivals in the United States, Beyond Wonderland, makes its home in Silicon Valley. Funk pioneer Bootsy Collins headlines the annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest and local, regional and national acts convene at the latest incarnation of C2SV Music Festival (a Metro affiliate).
Just a short drive away, the Lightning in a Bottle Festival settles in Monterey County for its Northern California debut, First City Festival returns for its second year with Beck and the National, and Outside Lands is back with Kanye West and Tom Petty headlining another three-day party in Golden Gate Park.
Pop’s reigning royal couple, Jay Z and Beyoncé, touch down in the Bay Area, and it’s a great summer to be a Beatles fan with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney both making Bay Area appearances.
May 23-25: Lightning in a Bottle
After running into problems at two sites in SoCal, Lightning in a Bottle tests the Northern California market with three days of music in Bradley, about an hour and a half south of Monterey. The festivities get under way at San Antonio Recreation this Friday with Moby, Baauer and San Francisco DJ Claude Vonstroke headlining the festival’s three main stages.
The party continues Saturday with Amon Tobin and Little Dragon before closing out Sunday with Phantogram, Beats Antique and The Gaslamp Killer. And for those looking to get realigned or commune with nature between performances, the festival also hosts the Lucent Temple of Consciousness with yoga, speakers and interactive exhibits highlighting personal improvement. (Matt Crawford)
July 13: Ringo Starr at City National Civic
Though his career has largely lingered in the shadows of his former Fab Four band mates, these past few years have been kind to former Beatle Ringo Starr. Beatles nostalgia has had a particularly good run recently, with Starr playing alongside Paul McCartney at the Grammys. They teamed up again a day later as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the Beatles’ landmark TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. An exhibit at the Grammy Museum was recently opened in Starr’s honor as well. But don’t get your hopes up if you’re itching for a “Hey Jude” sing-along at the City National Civic. Ringo will lead his All Starr Band, who’s supported him since 2012, through a set of mostly originals. Fun fact: ’70s singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren is listed among Starr’s ensemble. (Brandon E. Roos)
July 17: San Jose’s Music in the Park
San Jose summer destination Music in the Park halted as a weekly event after 2011, going dark in 2012, but it returned with a single, ticketed destination event last year. Latin favorites Ozomatli played to an eager crowd after local collective Sonido Clash opened festivities. For 2014, the San Jose Downtown Association has announced two events under the Music in the Park banner. Live 105 is presenting a “Then and Now” block party with The English Beat on July 17 in St. James Park. Two more acts will join the bill. Another summer staple, Pete Escovedo, headlines a night of Latin music at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Music in the Park’s old stomping ground, on Aug 21. Escovedo will be supported by recent Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia, who played to a packed house at San Pedro Square Market in March as part of San Jose Jazz Winter Fest. (BER)
July 27: Santana at Shoreline
Carlos Santana and his namesake group have carved out a career as one of the Bay Area’s best known musical acts. Santana’s signature tone has earned him worldwide acclaim and a slew of Grammys, most notably for 1999’s Supernatural. His 22nd album, the recently released Corazón, jumps headfirst into the rhythms and energy of Latin music—always an element of the band’s sound, just not the focal point. The guest-filled album includes appearances by Gloria Estefan, Lila Downs, Ziggy Marley and Wayne Shorter. Count on a concert highlighting standouts from Corazón in addition to an extensive list of fan favorites compiled over the years. (BER)
July 30: Arcade Fire at Shoreline
Fueled by the studio influence of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and inspired by a trip to Haiti, Montreal outfit Arcade Fire came up with an album last year that, surprisingly, made listeners want to dance. Reflektor moves past the moody, baroque indie rock that gained them notoriety on their iconic debut, Funeral, and its follow-up, Neon Bible. The more subdued, accessible The Suburbs helped them enter mainstream consciousness when it scored Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards (we appreciate the effort, Grammy committee, but you were still late to the game). Their July performance kicks off a number of California dates, and will be their first appearance since closing the Main Stage at Coachella. (BER)
August 5-6: Jay Z & Beyonce at AT&T Park
The power couple assures us that the viral elevator incident, where Bey’s younger sister, Solange, tried to judo chop and kick a tuxedoed Jay Z, was just a normal family problem—it’s happened to everyone, right? They didn’t waste any time after the security video was leaked to TMZ to announce the next day a second summer concert at AT&T Park. The duo should offer plenty more fireworks on stage with a collective catalog that features some of the biggest hits of the past 10 years. (MC)
August 8-10: San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
San Jose Jazz continues its liberal definition of jazz (that’s a good thing) with funk icon Bootsy Collins headlining the festival’s main stage this year. Bootsy’s outlandish outfits and custom shades almost overshadow his music, but his résumé speaks for itself, with stints playing for James Brown and George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic before going solo. Other highlights include Latin jazz originators Jerry González and the Fort Apache Band, Con Funk Shun and Pacific Mambo Orchestra. (MC)
August 8-10: Outside Lands Music Festival
The normally conservative organizers for Outside Lands took a little risk this year naming polarizing, future Kardashian-by-marriage Kanye West as a headliner this year. Despite the expected backlash from Kanye haters, the festival sold out in record time with all three-day general admission tickets purchased in just 24 hours. Tom Petty (a headliner at the debut festival), The Killers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Tiësto are among the nearly 60 other acts performing at the festival. (MC)
August 14: Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park
San Francisco’s loss is Santa Clara’s gain as the 49ers kick off their first season in the South Bay at Levi’s Stadium later this year, but San Francisco gets style points for its Candlestick Park sendoff with Paul McCartney, who last played the stadium in 1966 at the Beatles’ last concert ever. We’re guessing the set will be similar to his performance at Outside Lands in 2013—Beatles hits, songs from his band Wings and solo material, including tracks from his new album, appropriately titled New. (MC)
August 23-24: First City Festival at Monterey Fairgrounds
A product of Goldenvoice (the promoters behind Coachella), First City returns after a charming inaugural year that included Modest Mouse, Passion Pit and MGMT. The fest maintains its same sonic focus here, a good sign for the outing, which may still be trying to solidify its identity in a crowded festival landscape. Though there are names that are sure to touch on elements of R&B, soul and electronic, the main focus is still rock. Beck and the National headline, with other notables that include Best Coast, Phantogram, Cults and Lake Street Dive. If you’re looking to explore the lineup a bit further, check out the ambient R&B (sometimes derisively referred to as “PBR&B”) of How to Dress Well or the tight musicianship of Stones Throw Records’ artists the Stepkids. The latter is composed of three session musicians who pair their psychedelic explorations with far-out video projections—a must-see.
September 10-14: C2SV at SoFA District
C2SV Music Festival and Technology conference returns for its second year with five days of music and tech talks at its new home in the SoFA District. Lineup details are pending, but expect world-famous headliners and local favorites among the performers at local venues and an outdoor concert in the SoFA District.
September 20-21: Beyond Wonderland at Shoreline
Flower headdresses, neon and a general lack of clothing will all be in abundant supply when EDM spectacular Beyond Wonderland returns to Shoreline. After a successful inaugural run there last year, the fest expands its format to cover two full days. The lineup will likely feature the biggest names in EDM. Last year, radio staples Avicii, Calvin Harris and David Guetta shared the bill with unsung talents like Morgan Page and Cosmic Gate. Though Beyond Wonderland originated in San Bernardino, its only stop this year will be in the Bay Area, which could lead to a migration of dance die-hards from around the state converging on Mountain View.