Urban Music Festival Guide

Urban Music Festival

The popularity of music festivals in America has exploded over the last 20 years. From California to Florida, ranging from Jazz to Electronica, the US is now home to around 200 different music festivals and that number seems to grow every year. In 2010 225,000 people attended Coachella, making it the largest concert ever hosted on American Soil. With the 2013 Urban Music Festival officially open, veteran festival goers and music enthusiasts will be flying, road tripping, and hitchhiking to see the best live music line ups all across North America from now until October.

However, not all festivals are created equally. Urban festivals are quite different from their more rural camping-based festival counterparts. Knowing what you are getting into when attending a festival is an important part of having a good experience!

What to Bring

Small Marmot Backpack

  • Small backpack – If you feel the need to haul around anything more than a daypack, you are probably bringing too much. Free yourself from heavy packs that will weigh you down while rocking out! 
  • Sun screen – A must regardless of city.
  • Canteen – For liquids including, but not limited to, water. Stay hydrated!
  • Sunglasses – Don’t let glare ruin the view.
  • Hat – It can be fun, it can be silly, as long as it’s functional.
  • Poncho – Not all festivals are full of fun in the sun. Be prepared for rain… and mud! A light plastic poncho will keep you dry enough to still enjoy the show.
  • First aid kit – Moshing, interpretive dancing, and the occasional flying bottle are all excellent reasons to have some Neosporin and some Band-Aids close at hand.
  • Drugs (You know, the good kind) – Advil, decongestant, vitamins. After a day in the sun filled with loud music, head banging, and presumably very few nutritious foods, it can’t hurt to have a spare aspirin and a multivitamin around, just in case.
  • One random thing you probably don’t need but is fun anyway – Aa harmonica? Maybe some colorful duct tape? You never know when you’ll need a spare Sharpie Marker.
  • Blankets – Thin light ones for sitting. Warm thick ones for cuddling.Micro Fleece Throw
  • 2 Disposable cameras. One for you, one for someone else. Having a cheap disposable is great for festivals and it sure beats dropping your DSLR or iPhone in crowd of mosh pitters. Fill one with memories and adventure for you and the other with pictures of you and your friends. Leave it behind where someone will find it. It’s like the modern day message in a bottle.
  • Batteries – You’ll need them. It just happens.
  • Extra Sweater – Maybe it’s for you. Maybe it’s to keep a new friend warm at night. No one has ever regretted having an extra sweater on them.
  • Toilet Paper – More important than you might think. You never know what the dreaded wall of porta-potties has in store for you. You don’t need a whole roll, just enough for an emergency wipe.

    Other Ideas

    Lots of festivals are changing the way people participate at festivals. Noisepop’s culture club is described as “the TED talk” of music. Treasure Island has a free App as well as plenty of info on how to get around the city during the festival. Before you go, be sure to check out the festivals website to see what else is going on. Also be sure to check the weather before you head out! Festivals can still be a blast in the rain or snow, but make sure you are prepared for whatever flavor of fun Mother Nature is serving up!

    If you are new to the world of Urban Music Festivals or looking for a new Festival to check out, here are some of the biggest urban festivals happening this year.


    Where: Chicago, IL
    When: August 2nd -4th
    Type of Music: Alternative Rock


    Where: Austin, TX
    When: Sunday, March 17
    Type of Music: Various + Film

    Pitchfork Music Festival

    Where: Chicago, IL
    When: July 19th-21st
    Type of Music: Alternative rock, rap & hip-hop, electronica, and dance music

    Treasure Island

    Where: San Francisco, CA
    When: October 13 and 14
    Type of Music: Day One – Electronica and Hip Hop
    Day Two – Rock and Indie Rock

  • Did we miss something? Tell us what you bring when you’re partying like it’s ‘69.

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  • mike

    Coachella might want to check their facts. In 1986, 800,000 people attended a concert by the New York Philharmonic in Central Park.

  • Ted

    It is estimated that about 500,000 people actually made it to the Woodstock Festival.
    Done here in the USA in 1969. This makes is one of the biggest in the country, before outdoor concerts where not a fad.