Eminem, Lady Gaga, Prince Parade at Summer Festivals: Preview

Big Chill
Festival-goers gather at the Big Chill festival in Herefordshire. This year's summer festival season is about to start with events across the world. Photographer: Mark Beech/Bloomberg

Eminem, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder are confirmed fit to play. So are Prince, Arcade Fire, Soundgarden, Roxy Music and the Scissor Sisters. In this weird team, Bono is out with a back injury, and U2 substituted with Gorillaz.

The line-ups for this year’s rock festival season have shifted as much as some squads in the soccer World Cup. While names such as LCD Soundsystem, Massive Attack, Muse and the Prodigy come up many times, festival organizers are trying to appeal to the widest possible audience with eclectic choices.

Fans at California’s Coachella in April, always the first big event, got a hint of what to expect from rapper Jay-Z and U.K. band Muse -- as well as the mother of all traffic jams.

Whether your preference is a city or country location, here’s a roundup of the world’s better festivals:

June 8-Sept. 14: Ibiza Rocks. Weekly Tuesday concerts on the Mediterranean holiday island include LCD Soundsystem, Pendulum, Florence and the Machine, the Prodigy and Delphic -- whose debut album “Acolyte” (Polydor) is highly recommended.

June 10-13: Bonnaroo. The camping festival in Manchester, Tennessee, hosts Wonder, Jay-Z, the Kings of Leon and intriguingly the Flaming Lips, performing Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

Eno Not Included

June 17-19: Sonar. Many acts at the electronic festival in Barcelona, Spain -- from the Chemical Brothers to LCD Soundsystem -- were influenced by U.K. band Roxy Music. Aptly, the festival marks Roxy’s reunion of singer Bryan Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and sax player Andy Mackay. While keyboard wizard Brian Eno isn’t included, the group will reprise its greatest 1970s moments.

June 23-27: Glastonbury. A roster of more than 120 acts includes Wonder, who closes the U.K. festival, and Muse -- though no longer U2. Everyone from Lady Gaga to Rolf Harris gets a moment on stage. Let’s hope the world’s biggest greenfield festival remains so (too much rain and it turns into a sea of murky mud.)

June 25-27: Hard Rock Calling. This London event (formally Hyde Park Calling) again clashes with Glastonbury. Those who take rock seriously and are prepared to suffer for their art go to Glasto, while those who require a warm bed indoors stay in town. Pearl Jam, McCartney and Wonder play, though all on different nights.

June 24-27: OpenAir St. Gallen. The Strokes and Kasabian raise the temperature at a Swiss event that has gone off the boil in recent years.

Sausages, Beer

July 1-4: Rock Werchter. Expect Belgian sausages, beer, shuttle buses and award-winning organization at one of the biggest countryside fests. Muse, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Them Crooked Vultures top an impressive lineup.

July 1-4: Roskilde. The Danish festival overlaps with Werchter and shares some of the same artists. Its trump card, though, is those performers making rare appearances, such as Prince and punk poetess Patti Smith.

July 2-4: Wireless. The Hyde Park show has changed names, sponsors and duration in the past five years, while always going for a hip lineup that this time includes Pink and Jay-Z.

July 2-17: Montreux Jazz Festival. The Swiss event has less to do with jazz and more with being willfully perverse. The crazily diverse roster includes Phil Collins, Regina Spektor, Billy Idol, Gary Moore, Petula Clark and Pat Metheny.

July 8-11: Oxegen: Ireland’s top festival has Eminem.

July 15-18: Benicassim. The usual suspects seen at many fests -- Kasabian, the Prodigy and Gorillaz -- travel to Spain. The event has a unique selling point: it’s beachside.

Fuji Backdrop

July 30-Aug. 1: Fuji Rock Festival. This jamboree in the ski resort of Naeba, Japan, is known for its breathtaking backdrop and eccentric roster that veers from Massive Attack to Roxy Music, Kula Shaker (remember them?) the Scissor Sisters and local talent Ken Yokoyama.

Aug. 5-8: Big Chill. The aptly named coolest festival around is in Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire, U.K. Acts include Massive Attack and Thom Yorke, both back from Japan, M.I.A. and Lily Allen.

Aug. 6-8: Lollapalooza. One of the best lineups is at the Grant Park, Chicago, event, led by Lady Gaga, the reunited Soundgarden, underrated Social Distortion and Green Day.

Aug. 12-14: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. This Oxfordshire festival is one of the friendliest. Its lineup includes Little Feat and Thea Gilmore, which might just be enough to forgive sets by elders Status Quo and Rick Wakeman.

Aug. 21-22: Virgin/V Festival. While some of the Richard Branson-inspired fests are taking a break in Canada and Australia, the U.K. original lives on with gigs in Essex and Staffordshire. The Kings of Leon and Kasabian are among acts to play both sites.

Aug. 27-29: Rock en Seine. The Paris show includes the ubiquitous Massive Attack and Arcade Fire, who return in August with a third album titled “The Suburbs.” Local bands include the wonderfully named electro-rockers I Am Un Chien.

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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