This concern is strictly U.S based. International festivals are suffering too, though not as much. Lollapalooza, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, and others have produced lineups that if you analyze properly: are poor lineups compared to past years. Why? Because many more festivals have emerged worldwide, and the talent is thus spread out. So you’re paying more and getting less. How does one conclude they are below the standards of past lineups of the same fests? Analyze each of them.

How does one analyze a festivals lineup quality? Questions. Like so: Question 1: How many acts have I already seen (repeats) on this bill? A lot? Not good. How many reunion acts are on this bill? One?None? Compared to the 3 or 4 that have been there every past yearexcept for this year? Noted, and not good. How many constantly touring acts are on this bill? Most the bill? Not good. Those three factors are the best way to analyze (number of repeats, reunion acts and constantly touring acts are on the bill), plus consider if the dates of the fest are convenient for you or not, and lastly, calculate if the total cost is really worth seeing a lot of the acts you’re planning to pay for. Especially if they are mostly acts you’ve already seen, constantly tour and will show up in your city soon (your city being a lot closer than the festival itself), or if they haveclose to zero reunion acts, it may not be as worth it as much as you think.

INDIO, CA, APRIL 14 2012- The Coachella Music Festival in the afternoon of the second day.(Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times)
INDIO, CA, APRIL 14 2012- The Coachella Music Festival in the afternoon of the second day.(Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times)

Unless of course, you’re the exact opposite of me: I’m the guy who’s been to almost 500 different concerts of every genre you canpossibly think of over the last 8 years. If you are someone whom has been to less than 25 concerts your whole life, then YES, I strongly encourage you to attend a major U.S festival such as Coachella, Firefly, etc. However, if you are a concert veteran such as myself, factors change, and one must analyze.

For the people whom have also almost seen it all for the time being, and are lazy about checking the best festival source there is, I’d highly recommend Goodsearching/Googling ‘Shaky Knees music festival’. Given how much you’re paying and what it gives you, it’s the best the country has so far for alternative rock. Coachella and Firefly follow (those two have a lot more than alternative rock too, they also have EDM, rap, blues, etc). Those two defy some of therules I’ve instructed the readers of the piece to follow, though they give you the MOST amount of overall acts that you’re paying for. More bang for your buck in contrast to the competition. 

The comment I want to leave you all with is this: use the three analytical questions in your head, plus calculate cost and dates, when deciding on whether a festival is truly worth it. Realize that compared to 2007-2013, the last 2 years have been OFF for music compared to what live music veterans are all used to in those 7 years (thank gosh for last years Riot Fest & Gov Ball). This piece is only targeted for people who go to music festivals for the music mostly, and are unclear on how its best to be smart about assessing a festival. Though if that differs from how you see things, if you are new to the scene or you’re more set on strictly the experience, go to the festival your head and heart is already set on. If your mind and your passion is already set on a fest, GO. The moment is yours.