Indie Music Festivals Become Mainstream

Above almost all else, summer is a tremendous time to chill out at a few legendary indie music festivals. You can catch some sun, break away from the drudgery of daily life and, most importantly, discover new, cool, rising artists. Just check out some of the undiscovered talent in this year’s festival circuit: Paul McCartney, Metallica, Drake, Jack White and AC/DC. Who are those guys, right? Wait. Aren’t they some of the biggest, multi-platinum, undeniably huge artists of the past century? Then, uh, what are they doing at Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo?

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these festivals for becoming more and more mainstream. It’s truly wonderful to see Kanye West crash Coachella, really, but there’s no surprise there anymore. This leaves true independent music lovers rightfully wondering, “Where can we find the next great artist?” Fortunately, Long Island has a few rad local options that prove indie music festivals are by no means dead.

Perhaps the most recognizable but still more than viable option is the Great South Bay Music Festival. GSB cleverly gets feet in the door by bringing in known, respected faces such as Christina Perri and Colbie Caillat, but the real treats are the emerging artists, many of whom are local. With four stages and nearly sixty acts, there’s something for everyone at GSB. The Great South Bay Music Festival runs July 16-19 in Patchogue.

Who likes free stuff? The Long Island Summer Festival knows the answer to that is everybody. Everyone likes free stuff. Running July 11-12 in Farmingville, this festival features almost entirely LI bred artists. Sure, there’s a Journey tribute band, but still, there are some awesome indie groups here, including The Comos Brothers Band. They’re the very definition of on the rise. And then we have The Slim Kings, who combine the youthful sounds of their lead singer, guitarist and bassist with drummer Liberty DeVitto, a man with over thirty years experience performing with Billy Joel. So, if you’re looking for a festival with some real spunk, Long Island Summer Festival is perfect for you.

Nothing is more indie in today’s musical climate than jazz and the blues, though the popularity of last year’s Oscar-winning Whiplash could certainly serve as a counter argument. While the 2015 Freeport Blues and Jazz Festival already took place for the year as an all-day event on June 6, it appears as though this Long Island Blues Relief Fund supported festival, only around since 2013, will be a Long Island mainstay for years to come. It’s for a good cause, too! The Long Island Blues Relief Fund exists to help bolster appreciation for the arts all around the Island. Check this one out next year. The jazz fan in you won’t regret it!

Popular music is popular for a reason; a hell of a lot of people like it. Mainstream does not equate bad, and it’s dangerous to think so. That being said, it’s equally dangerous to stop pursuing new, potentially fascinating artists, which appears to be what many of the most respected music festivals are doing. Maybe the Sasquatch and Shaky Knees festivals of the world are becoming too understandably large to support the smaller discoveries, but we can always relax in knowing Long Island still maintains an indie mentality.