If You Can Only Make it To One: Presenting Your Music Festival Power Rankings

03/06/2012 12:00 PM |

All Tomorrow’s Parties: I’ll Be Your Mirror, curated by Greg Dulli (of The Afghan Whigs) & ATP
September 21-23, Asbury Park, New Jersey

Ticket cost: 2
Since only a partial lineup is announced, we’ll go ahead and anticipate the number of artists performing based from previous years: It looks to be about 40. Using that number, then, and a $199 ticket price (plus Brown Paper Ticket fees), you’ll be paying roughly $4.98 per artist. While these smaller-scale festivals have a lot of pluses, it’s hard to compete with Bonnaroo and the big boys when breaking down the cost per band (and $199 is the early-bird price, mind you).

Travel expenses: 4
Hey! New Jersey! That’s not too far. No flight need, just a friend with a car or a round-trip train ticket from Penn Station at about $30 a pop. ATP provides shuttles from the station to the main venues, though you’ll likely want to splurge on a hotel room. Looking over the list on ATP’s website, it looks like an average room runs about $100 a night (cram a few people in there, yo). Easy breezy.

Location: 3
Though the sleepy and surreal Kutshers Country Club seems to still be the preferred backdrop for the fest, ATP will set up shop at last year’s newly minted location in Asbury Park, again diving time between the Convention Hall and the Paramount Theatre. For some, not having to deal with weather and crappy soundsystems make the indoor venues choice; for others, it takes away the festival “feel.” To those people, we point out that a boardwalk serves as a central hub.

Headliners: 2
It’s probable that, come September, the Afghan Whigs’ return will have lost a tad of its luster after seeing/reading about their Coachella and Primavera performances, though we can assume Dulli and co. will bring no less to the table.

Lineup: 3
ATP hangs its hat on being the rare festival able to bring bands out of the woodwork. While its early still early in the game, none of the bands announced, save for maybe Sharon Van Etten and The Roots, are ones you see playing around town too often. A rare performance by Louis C.K. (oh, yeah, there’s a comedy tent too) is enough to push people over the edge.

Atmosphere: 5
According to NPR, “The wall between fans and fame is mostly stripped away, as is corporate sponsorship. In terms of vibe, it is simply the best music festival there is,” and an awful lot of people share the sentiment. It’s true, this is one of the most unique festivals out there, one that creates an alterna-universe where eyeglasses and beards thrive, everyone doodled band logos on their notebooks in high school, and you can rub elbows with Steve Albini in a poker room.


2 Comment

  • What about Benicasim? It’s probably the best festival on the planet.

  • While not personally an indie guy, and therefor not a Sasquatch! attendant, I still love the nod to the greatest venue at which to see a show. Having seen many fantastic bands (Phish, The Dead/Allman Bros, DMB, among others) for multi-night stands, and live only 2 1/2 hours away, I take every opportunity to vouch for “Heaven’s Ampitheatre”(-Dave Matthews). The overall package of setting, sound, and atmosphere I’ve not experienced anywhere else. Not to mention the convenience, cost effectiveness, and party-hearty expanse that is the venue campgrounds (post-show rage fest!). This place is everything they say it is and then some, further supported by outranking bigger festivals with more space, stages, fans, and bands. Trust me when I say that while maybe not as “epic” in scale, 20K people is a lot more comfortable and enjoyable than 80K, and 1 stage in 1 majestic location is far easier and more enjoyable than 5-10 spread out over multiple acres. My basic point is if you live for live music, whether for a festival or single/multi-band tour, get to this venue. If you haven’t, it deserves a high ranking on the bucket-list….