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HARD Summer 2015
Photograph: Foster Snell HARD Summer 2015

Summer music festivals in and near L.A.

Brush up on this year’s summer music festivals near L.A., including Coachella, Stagecoach and more

By Michael Juliano
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Not all summer music festivals require a road trip to the desert; in fact, you’ll find a pretty even split between local L.A. venues and day trip destinations. Most do, however, require plunking down a sizable chunk of change—thankfully we have plenty of free concerts to balance them out. While festivals aren’t the only upcoming concerts this summer, they certainly generate the most buzz—particularly the summer music festivals below.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in Los Angeles

Summer music festivals near L.A.

Coachella 2015, day 3
Photograph: Kate Wertheimer

Coachella

Music Music festivals Empire Polo Club, Indio

Coachella 2020 has been postponed until October due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 125,000 music lovers make a pilgrimage to the Empire Polo Club during each identical weekend of Coachella, whether bound for campgrounds or shuttling over from golf resorts and midcentury modern homes. Coachella’s all-embracing three-day lineup consistently crafts the pool of performers from which all other summer music festivals borrow. Even in the face of an increasingly predictable pattern, it’s hard to argue with a fest that finds room for Frank Ocean, Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Run the Jewels, Thom Yorke and Lana Del Rey atop its bill.

Stagecoach 2015
Photograph: Kate Wertheimer

Stagecoach Festival

Music Empire Polo Club, Indio

Stagecoach 2020 has been postponed until October due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Strap on your cowboy hat and make the pilgrimage to country music’s biggest jamboree, taking up residence at Coachella’s digs, the Empire Polo Club. Stagecoach is coming back for a three-day fest, and headlining the event this year are stars like Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church (plus Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and Diplo). Expect the usual mix of contemporary and classic country.

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Morrissey at FYF 2015, day 2
Photograph: Mallory Turner

Cruel World Festival

Music Rock and indie

Cake on the eyeliner, cry it off and then dance away the tears at this inaugural 1980s goth and new wave fest feauting Morrissey, Bauhaus, Blondie and Devo. On May 2, the grounds around the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson will host the Cruel World Festival, a one-day-only music fest that features almost every ’80s alt obsession imaginable: the Psychedelic Furs, Echo & the Bunnymen, Violent Femmes, the Church, English Beat, Public Image Ltd, Gary Numan, Missing Persons (you know they’ll play “Walking in L.A.”) and more.

Lightning in a Bottle
Photograph: Courtesy Lightning in a Bottle

Lightning in a Bottle

Music Music festivals

After years on the Central Coast, the annual event has made a move significantly closer to L.A., at Bakersfield’s Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area. Sure, it’s still a bit of a trek, but where else can you find a sustainable, vegetarian festival dedicated to equal parts music, food, art, yoga and wellness? Lightning in a Bottle has stepped up its musical lineup in recent years, with Kaytranada, Sylvan Esso, GRiZ, Purity Ring, Four Tet, Big Wild, Jon Hopkins and James Blake topping the 2020 bill.

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Redondo Beach Pier
Photograph: Courtesy Redondo Pier Association

Beachlife Festival

Music Music festivals

This surf-inflected music fest will once again take over the Redondo Beach coastline for three days, with a laid-back lineup that includes the likes of the Steve Miller Band, Counting Crows, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, G. Love & Special Sauce and a Bob Marley celebration featuring Ziggy and Stephen Marley.

EDC Las Vegas 2015
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Electric Daisy Carnival

Music Music festivals

On the outskirts of town at the Motor Speedway, Electric Daisy Carnival is pure, condensed Vegas. There is a VIP Ferris wheel. Helicopters shuttle in high rollers. The 135,000-strong crowd is soaked in ecstasy and spray tan. Every millionaire DJ that plays the laser-riddled nightclubs on the Strip is here. EDC introduced EDM as a Day-Glo spectacle for the masses in America, and its lineups in recent years have certainly lived up to the hype. Once you let the neon and bass wash over you, it is the time of your life.

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Joshua Tree Music Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Foster Snell

Joshua Tree Music Festival

Music Music festivals

Make your way to the desert for the Joshua Tree Music Festival, a gathering of like-minded indie musicians who will be rocking out to a dance-world-electro-funk’n groove. The biannual festival is a four-day party with over 30 bands in a unique lineup of artists who aren’t necessarily household names. There’s free water to all patrons, minimal service charges on tickets and yoga classes aplenty.

Lightning in a Bottle
Photograph: Courtesy Juliana Bernstein

Lightning in a Bottle

Music Music festivals

After years on the Central Coast, the annual event has made a move significantly closer to L.A., at Bakersfield’s Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area. Sure, it’s still a bit of a trek, but where else can you find a sustainable, vegetarian festival dedicated to equal parts music, food, art, yoga and wellness? Lightning in a Bottle has stepped up its musical lineup in recent years, with Kaytranada, Sylvan Esso, GRiZ, Purity Ring, Four Tet, Big Wild, Jon Hopkins and James Blake topping the 2020 bill.

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Stoned and Dusted
Photograph: Courtesy Stoned and Dusted

Stoned and Dusted

Music Music festivals

As a throwback to the gasoline genrator-fueled desert parties in the early ’90s, this on-the-down-low offshoot of Desert Generator is celebrating stoner rock and the desert music scene with a campout. The event kicks off at Pappy & Harriet’s with sets from Los Dug Dugs, Yawning Man, Corrosion of Conformity, Masters of Reality and Brant Bjork, co-founder of seminal stoner rock band Kyuss. Then the action moves into the Mojave for a show with Dead Meadow, Earthless, Big Scenic Nowhere and more. Details are hush-hush; we just know it’s somewhere near Joshua Tree.

Splash House
Photograph: Courtesy Nikki Jahanforouz

SPLASH HOUSE Palm Springs Pool + Music Weekend

Clubs

Say goodbye to dusty thoroughfares and violent porta-potties: Splash House takes the music festival concept off of sweltering desert land and places it poolside. Movers and shakers at this multi-location getdown are shuttled between the Renaissance, the Riviera Resort and the Saguaro to lap up big-name dance acts and DJ sets.

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Looking for free concerts?

Movie screenings, live concerts, comedy and more happen here at the Santa Monica Pier.
Photograph: Courtesy Twilight Concerts

Free concerts in L.A.

Music

Looking for free concerts in L.A.? Well, you’re in luck—music (aside from film, possibly) is the city’s most abundant form of entertainment.

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