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Bumbershoot and beyond: Five upcoming music festivals

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Music festivals are an excellent way to hear lots of great music and check out new bands with a single admission fee, and I've got five in mind - two nearby, two in the Western US, and another out in the Atlantic Ocean - that you might want to put on your calendar. If you're a music fiend like me, have vacation hours to burn, and some wiggle room in your wallet, consider attending these talent-packed festivals in the coming weeks and months.

Bumbershoot
Seattle Center, September 5-7

Lineup: Katy Perry, Jason Mraz, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Black Eyed Peas, The All-American Rejects, De La Soul, MSTRKFT, Old 97's, Cold War Kids, Brett Dennen, dozens of local acts

This is Seattle's premiere music event taking place in the city, allowing you to retreat to your home for a nice shower and leftovers in the fridge after a long day of watching multiple acts at various stages under the Space Needle. Bumbershoot got tremendously big over the years, but this time around it appears to have returned to its roots, adding many up-and-coming regional bands on the three-day lineup in addition to the major talent on the main stage. Franz Ferdinand opens for Modest Mouse, who headline the entire festival on Monday night - I've seen each of these acts several times, and they're quite good in concert. Single day tickets are $35 through August 21, then jump to $50. Visit www.bumbershoot.org for more information.

Getting there: Easy as pie; from downtown take the monorail to/from Seattle Center. Or, take Sound Transit light rail to Westlake Center and hop on the monorail from there.

Musicfest NW
Portland, Oregon - September 16-20

Lineup: Modest Mouse, Arctic Monkeys, Mudhoney, Girl Talk, Frightened Rabbit, Tigercity, many Northwest bands

In just two hours, you can be in the Rose City listening to alternative heavyweights Arctic Monkeys or Modest Mouse, or a bevy of rising Northwest artists who'll play at various clubs in the downtown (or near downtown) area. This is a fabulous opportunity to catch all of those smaller bands currently getting written up in Spin or Rolling Stone magazines in intimate venues, like Passion Pit and Frightened Rabbit. Girl Talk's performance at Roseland Theater, an assembly hall-like venue just off Burnside, will be dynamite - the young DJ is a popular attraction on the dance music scene right now. Wristbands, admitting you entry to all shows on that given day (subject to venue capacity), are $60 per day. Visit www.musicfestnw.com for more information.

Getting there: By car is the most convenient, however Amtrak is an affordable and dependable method of travel from Seattle if you don't drive - PDX's Union Station is a five-minute walk from downtown. Hotel deLuxe and Hotel Lucia, two marvelous Gay-friendly places to crash in the Rose City, are offering festival packages. Look them up online.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
Austin, Texas - October 2-4

Lineup: Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, the B-52s, Arctic Monkeys, Grizzly Bear, John Legend, Phoenix

Austin, like Seattle, is a live music mecca. The Texas capital's SXSW Festival draws crowds from around the globe, and its sister event in early October has become a very hot attraction on the festival circuit. From Grammy winners Kings of Leon to indie prince Andrew Bird to punk-pop veterans the B-52s, not to mention Seattle-based rock giants Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band, this three-day gala screams "killer lineup." The huge bash takes place at Zilker Park, in the south Austin area. Jack White and his new band, The Dead Weather, will open for Eddie Vedder and company on the final day - that's worth the trip by itself. Single-day passes for Friday and Sunday remain priced at $85, Saturday is sold out. Visit www.aclfestival.com for more information.

Getting there: Alaska Airlines now provides non-stop Seattle-Austin flights, making to/from treks simpler. SGN music and travel writer Jessica Price knows the city well, and might be able to offer tips - e-mail her at jessica@sgn.org.

Iceland Airwaves
Reykjavik, Iceland - October 14-18

Lineup: Casiokids, The Golden Filter, The Postelles, The Megaphonic Thrift, Alaska in Winter, and lots of Icelandic and Scandinavian bands, DJs and singer-songwriters

Iceland is opening itself to the world - and to Seattleites, who can now fly non-stop to Reykjavik - with the growing Iceland Airwaves festival in mid-October. The Gay-friendly island nation in the Atlantic Ocean is said to be one of the planet's most scenic, and it's suddenly becoming the new "it" vacation spot for tourists of all ages, including young hipsters who're flocking to the capital city's nightclubs to catch top notch DJs in action. The lineup for this five-day event features talent mainly from Iceland, Scandinavia and throughout Europe, yet I expect more acts to be added in the weeks leading up to it and this could include more familiar performers from North America. Still, this is an excellent way to discover Iceland and attend a music festival with dozens of good, low-profile bands in a lush urban setting. Individual tickets will be available soon, but Icelandair (www.icelandair.com) is currently offering travel packages that include festival admission. Visit www.icelandairwaves.com for more information.

Getting there: For those who love to fly, try out Icelandair's brand new Seattle-Reykjavik non-stop flight. The airline can assist with accommodations, or check out www.visiticeland.com for tourism information.

Treasure Island Music Festival
San Francisco, California - October 17-18

Lineup: Grizzly Bear, MGMT, The Decemberists, Girl Talk, Flaming Lips, The Streets, Brazilian Girls, Beirut

Haven't been to San Francisco lately, and prefer a music festival to the wild Folsom Street Fair? Say no more; Treasure Island is the spot to be in mid-October as a two-day lineup of award-caliber performers take the stage. Concertgoers will be treated to a full roster of top indie acts with a view of the city skyline, and free shuttles to and from downtown make for a perfect getaway. MGMT hasn't toured much in the past year, so this is one of the few times to see them on the West Coast in 2009, and Grizzly Bear's catapult to fame continues with a high-brow appearance at the festival on Sunday. Single day tickets are $65, or purchase a two-day pass for $115. Visit www.treasureislandfestival.com for more information.

Getting there: Use your Alaska Airlines miles, offering multiple daily flights to SFO, or take advantage of the airline's dirt-cheap summer-end fares. Virgin also provides non-stop daily flights at low rates. Mosser Hotel, with its own basement recording studio, and Hotel Palomar come to mind in regards to comfy accommodations. Worth a second mention, free shuttles will get you from downtown San Francisco to Treasure Island - how's that for no-hassle?

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