I Can’t Get No Sleep – A Grown Man’s Guide to North America’s Most Intriguing Summer Music Festivals


“I Can’t Get No Sleep” is the main lyric of the hit song “Insomnia” by 90’s British Dance sensation, Faithless.  Those same words will probably be uttered by anyone attempting to conquer this summers North American music festival circuit.  On this continent alone there will be over 120 major events taking place between June 1st and Sept 7th.  Even if you had unlimited time and money it would be virtually impossible to attend them all.  With that being said, if I did have the budget and if I did have the time, here are the festivals one would find me ‘not’ sleeping at this summer.

The first day of Summer falls on June 21st this year, but lets get real in most of our minds the season begins when the calendar flips past the last day of May. So, on the 6th of June we will kick off our tour at FIELD TRIP 2015 in Toronto (tickets prices are $85 – $120).  Other than Chicago, this is supposed to be the best non coastal city to party in on this continent and this festival will take place in the heart of it!  While there’s food, fashion and art to be had at this two day event, I’m going for the music, with Alabama Shakes, De La Soul and Morning Jacket highlighting a lineup 25 bands deep.

Speaking of Chicago, that’s where we will head next for SPRING AWAKENING 2015 which takes place from June 12th – 14th inside the city’s hallowed football stadium, Soldier Field.  Tickets are an average of $184, but should be well worth it with a lineup that rivals any major electronic festival in Europe including Zedd, Tiesto, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Diplo, Skrillex and Duke Dumont.  Need I say more?  Because there are a lot more.

3LAU at EDM, Las Vegas

I hope you’ve properly hydrated because were just getting started.  With its unapologetic opulence and excess, Las Vegas is a modern day Babylon, making it the perfect pitstop for more mind melting mayhem.  Twenty miles off the Strip, inside a NASCAR speedway made to look like an amusement park on extasy, 300,000 revelers will converge for The Electronic Daisy Carnival.  EDC also sets up in New York and London, but it’s here at WE’RE A BIG DEAL’s second home that you can have the most fun. For tickets prices ranging from $329 to $20,000 (not a typo) you can see every major DJ who didn’t make it to SPRING AWAKENING.  Above & Beyond, Calvin Harris, Ferry Corsten, Krewella and Dzeko & Torres will be high on my must see list at this three day event, which takes place on June 19th to 21st.

There’s no time to sleep, but that doesn’t mean we can’t chill for a little bit.  Lets get out of the desert and head north to the cooler climes, of the TALL TREE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2015 in Port Renfrew, BC.  I know virtually nothing about this one other than it takes place at the base of beautiful Browns Mountain, surrounded by a forest of redcedar trees.  From June 26-28th for as little as $100, you can hear music that doesn’t come out of a can or a computer. Did I mention they also have a slip and slide?  What speaks to summer more than that?

Let’s head out of the wilderness and back to the big smoke, for SUMMERFEST in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival”, it features 800 acts over 11 days.  It starts on June 24th, but were only going for the final weekend at an average ticket price of about $100.  I’ll bob my head to Lupe Fiasco and Awol Nation on July 3rd, laugh at Weird Al Yankovic and the world’s best Prince imitator; Gabriel Sanchez on July 4th and shut it down reliving by the 90s with Smash Mouth on July 5th.

I don’t hate on any genre of music and therefore country shall be represented when we catch the tail end of the CALGARY STAMPEDE 2015, which takes place from July 3rd-12th in Alberta.  You can watch the likes of Miranda Lambert on July 9th or her husband Blake Shelton on the 10th, but to tell you the truth I’m more likely to be found watching some real bad asses trying not to fall off of 2000 lbs of angry bovine.  Stampede shows will cost you $40, but concert tickets will be significantly more dependant on the artist.

 Pemberton Music Festival – joshualewis.net

This tour takes us back to my home province of British Columbia, for the PEMBERTON MUSIC FESTIVAL 2015 from July 16th -19th for $299.  A two and a half hour drive from my doorstep (or a thirty minute helicopter ride since money is no object) will put me in front of acts like A$AP Ferg, M.I.A., The Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar or Jack U.  Since we won’t get the kind of stunning mountain vistas that Pemberton provides anywhere else on our trip, I’ll elect to make use of the festival campsite.  I’m sure my girlfriend will wish me the best of luck from her hotel room in nearby Whistler.

British Columbia is a magnet for X-Game style athletes, and they will be on full display for CENTER OF GRAVITY 2015 on July 24th-26th in Kelowna.  Okanagan Lake and beach will the playground for wakeboarders, BMXers, FMXers, Skateboarders and Freestyle Mountain bikers with DJ acts providing a soundtrack to the action. Any remaining tickets can be had for $189-$209.

The “Dirty South” is the pitstop for the smallest, but arguably most interesting stop on our circuit; SECRET STAGES FESTIVAL 2015.  For two days (July 31st – Aug 1st) 60 bands will be performing in bars which fall within a two block radius of downtown BIRMINGHAM.  In what essentially amounts to a kinder surprise of music festivals, you pop into an establishment and witness a relatively unknown band that may or may not be on the verge of making it big. For a mere $35 this is also the biggest bargain of the entire trip.

Whoever said “You can’t go home again” is a damn liar, because for the 4th time on this journey I find myself back in British Columbia. The temperate rainforests of Salmo is the place, and SHAMBALLA 2015 is the space. It’s been a summer staple for British Columbians for years, but now the rest of the world is starting to catch on. Get down to the likes of Mixmaster Mike (Beastie Boys), DJ Jazzy Jeff, Skrillex or Pretty Lights on one of six unique stages from Aug 7th -10th. ($365).  If ever there was a time to (air quotes) reconnect with nature on this trip, really (air quotes again) breathe it in, this is it.

Shamballa – www.patricklatterphoto.com

As this is a North American adventure, ILL SONIQUE 2015 in Montreal may be the closest in distance and spirit to a European festival.  Deadmaus, Die Antwoord, Rae Sremmurd and Azelia Banks are just a few of the acts that will hold down one of this continent’s most unique cities on Aug 14th and 15th ($145).

I’m good at many things, but clearly scheduling is not one of them. Right after going clear across the continent from Salmo, BC to Montreal, I take us right back to the west coast for the FYF FEST 2015 in Los Angeles (Aug 22nd & 23rd with Tix from $175 – $329).  I’m sure more than a few Hollywood stars will be amongst those in attendance to watch Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, Morrissey, DeAngelo and Dinosaur Jr get down. In case you were wondering the celebrities will be the ones leaving 45 minutes early after arriving an hour and a half late.

If June signifies the beginning of summer then Labour Day marks the end of it and with it the final leg of our festival tour.  From September 6th-13th, Lifestyles Vacation Resort in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic is the home to GROOVE WEST 2015, a week long chill out dance party.  With artists like Skream, MK and Kenny Dope it’s bound to get a little hype, but ultimately this is about slowing down for the first time in 2 months and preparing yourselves for the transition back into the real world.

At the end of it all, if you see me lying alone on some quiet sandy beach, warm caribbean waters nipping at my feet, please leave me alone, because you know I need to sleep.

The article writer practicing post 2015 North American Festival Tour sleeping

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