10 Electronic Music Festivals To Attend in the U.S. in 2016Article by: Scott Sterling|@ststerling
Wed February 17, 2016 | 00:00 AM
The reality of the American electronic music festival scene is that it's so much more than predictable beats and drops. Current trends point to a rise in boutique, curated experiences for festies across the nation in a move away from the franchised, one-size-fits-all, in-your-face EDM extravaganzas that have dominated the scene for the past few years. Thus, the American dance music landscape is growing up considerably, with new-school ravers maturing towards more refined sounds and discovering the deep-rooted history of the music as more and more young, festival-hungry generations enter the scene. With the U.S. quickly catching up with Europe, the worldwide dance music community is getting more tight-knit than ever, with fans regularly hopping continents in the relentless pursuit of the perfect beat. Here are just ten of America’s best electronic music fests (that we did not highlight in our list last year), ranging from intimate underground parties to massive, hands-in-the-air celebrations.
Further Future, Las Vegas, Nevada (April 29-May 1, 2016)
Invoking familiar feelings for those who’ve spent time on the playa at Burning Man , this emerging fest brings elements of the transformational variety to the Moapa Indian Reservation just outside of Las Vegas. The intimate affair launched by Robot Heart in 2015 with a stellar lineup featuring the Orb, Actress, Rhye, and the Robot Heart collective itself performing into the wee hours of the morning, with afternoons featuring talks from such influential speakers as Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh and SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung. The desert setting is augmented with plush amenities like chill-out areas and free water. The 2016 lineup is stellar, with Derrick Carter, Caribou, Nicolas Jaar and Four Tet as just a few of the names on the Robot Heart-curated bill.
CRSSD Festival, San Diego, California (March 5-6, 2016)
One of America’s newest festivals made a big splash right out of the gate, with a deeply curated lineup of electronic artists in the laid-back, postcard-ready setting of downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park. The event is unique in that it’s strictly 21 and over, making for a decidedly more mature vibe across the scenic grounds. Rolling out two separate events in its inaugural year of 2015, the strong 2016 spring lineup features ODESZA, Tycho, Green Velvet and Lee K.
Moogfest, Durham, North Carolina (May 19-22, 2016)
This annual celebration of analog synthesizer legend Robert Moog has evolved and grown tremendously since its 2004 launch as a one-night affair in New York. What was once, in 2010, a three-day event in Asheville, North Carolina, 2016 sees the show set in the city of Durham, and blossoming into a full-fledged, four-day festival and conference happening across 17 downtown venues. This year boasts a packed roster that includes electronic music icon Gary Numan performing three of his influential albums (Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon) in their entirety, experimental pioneer Laurie Anderson and legends the Orb, alongside contemporary boundary-pushers like Oneohtrix Point Never and Tim Hecker. There's also a film festival (featuring ADULT.), art installations, workshops, and add Floating Points, Rob Hood, Daniel Lanois, DJ Harvey and the North Carolina debut of Blood Orange, and Moogfest 2016 has quickly become one the best festival lineups of the year, bar none.
Movement Electronic Music Festival, Detroit, Michigan (May 28-30, 2016)
This long-running celebration of all things techno – in the genre’s birthplace, no less – is one that all fans need to attend at least once. Set over Memorial Day weekend in the city’s riverside Hart Plaza, Movement always presents a finely crafted lineup that regularly highlights Motor City legends. This year they include Will Sessions featuring Amp Fiddler, Mike Huckaby and Seth Troxler next to international favorites Caribou, Four Tet, Moritz Von Oswald, Scuba, and scores more notable names. 2016 will also see techno godfathers Kraftwerk making their debut appearance at the vaunted fest.
Spring Awakening Music Festival, Chicago, Illinois (June 10-12, 2016)
This large-scale dance music fest brings the massive rave experience into the heart of Chicago with marquee headliners across multiple stages. Held in the city’s Soldier Field football stadium (home of the Chicago Bears) from 2011 through 2015, this year's event is moving a few miles south to Jackson Park due to a scheduling conflict with an international soccer tournament.But nothing will be lost in the change; expanding to six stages, the 2016 edition will feature full rave amenities including amusement park rides, art installations and fireworks. The city setting allows attendees to explore Chicago when not on festival grounds, which in 2015 featured Tiesto, Jack Ü and RL Grime.
What The Festival, Dufur, Oregon (June 17-20, 2016)
For something entirely different, What The Festival marries electronic music with the free-spirited and open-minded vibe found at conscious gatherings like Burning Man and Lightning In a Bottle . Cool off in a massive wading pool or firm up with yoga workshops by day, and then dance the night away to a wide array of EDM sounds in the woods of rural Oregon. With attendance in the range of 5,000 people, it’s an up close and personal three-day experience that, this year, boasts Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Jai Wolf, Claude VonStroke, Claptone, Lido (Live), Lettuce, J.Phlip, The Gaslamp Killer, and way more on the 2016 lineup.
Electric Forest Festival, Rothbury, Michigan (June 23-26, 2016)
Set in the scenic, woodsy confines along the shores of western Michigan, this four-day festival explores the connections between electronic music and jam bands. In 2016, this cross-section of sound is exemplified in the three headliners: The String Cheese Incident, Major Lazer and Bassnectar. Featuring elaborate production values that turn the Double JJ Resort into an eye-popping fantasyland, Electric Forest is powered by music that allows fans to experience an incredibly diverse range of artists. For instance, other names on the 2016 the lineup include jazz champion Kamasi Washington, summer anthem master Fetty Wap and DJ pioneer Jazzy Jeff, next to electronic acts like Porter Robinson, Duke Dumont and Flosstradamus. With a waterpark, golf course and a lake on the premises, campers are never at a shortage of activities when not taking in the all that sweet music.
Decibel Festival, Seattle, Washington (September 2016) [CANCELLED FOR 2016]
Detroit native Sean Horton brings his hometown’s penchant for wild innovation and "by-any-means-necessary" work ethic to this annual four-day event in Seattle that spreads cutting-edge electronic music across a host of venues throughout the city, including local parks and a boat party on the water. Daytime conferences allow prominent figures from a multitude of industry aspects to share their knowledge and experience. Attracting upwards of 25,000 people, the crowd skews towards hardcore music aficionados with lineups that feature pioneers alongside experimentalists. Decibel is a festival for the true heads.
Dirtybird Campout, Silverado, California (October 2016)
Launching in 2005, Claude VonStroke’s Dirtybird record label has propagated an appropriately down and dirty brand of party-time house music from San Francisco with a strong artist roster that includes J. Phlip, Justin Martin, and VonStroke himself. In 2015, the label celebrated ten years in the game with the first Dirtybird Campout, which set up shop in Oak Canyon Park for three days of bumping house music from label artists, mixed with more traditional, summer camp-style fun like tug-o-war, a talent show, "camp counselors," row boating, and kickball contests. From yoga classes and standup comedy to DJ sets from Benoit & Sergio and Dan Bell (both of whom performed at the inaugural event), the Dirtybird Campout has quickly established itself as a fun weekend in the great outdoors with a killer house music soundtrack.
Time Warp US, Brooklyn, New York (November 2016)
This underground techno celebration is a spin-off from the long-running European festival of the same name, showcasing the latest and greatest producers and DJs in the heart of Brooklyn. Event founder Steffen Charles takes a very hands-on approach to the show, personally booking artists like Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Sven Vath and Seth Troxler for the elaborate two-day event and its signature cave-like dance floor design. Based on this model, we believe 2016's lineup will not disappoint.