Ok guys, I’m actually going to do it. I am going to declare to my readers (and to the rest of the free world), which major festival this summer has the best lineup.

Why am I doing this? Because I believe in the power of bold declarations and hard-fought proclamations. Like they say in the great American musical Hamilton, “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything,” and I am getting to a point in my life where I am done hedging my bets. I’m tired of being safe. I’m tired of trying to appease everyone all the time. I want to make a statement! I want to have an opinion! I want to say “this lineup is better than that lineup and if you have a problem with it then you can go to hell!”

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So that’s why, today, before God and the rest of the music industry, I am going to shed all allegiances and declare which festival I believe has the strongest lineup in 2017. I’m going to do it, consequences be damned.

But before that happens, I need to drop a few caveats (look, you can be both bold and nuanced at the same time, it’s not mutually exclusive). Here’s my first major caveat — my opinion is totally irrelevant. Not only has no one asked me which festival has the best lineup, but my decision-making process is based solely on my personal opinion and musical listening habits, as well as those artists that I would most like to see live at a festival. I have no idea what went into booking any of these acts, and if I did, it probably wouldn’t have skewed my judgment anyways. Would I be more inclined to say Coachella had a great lineup because of their quick-thinking replacing Beyonce with Lady Gaga after the “Halo” singer got knocked up? Yes it would, but sorry Goldenvoice, I’m not picking Coachella as the best festival lineup of 2017.

Second point — everyone else’s opinion is hugely irrelevant, perhaps more so than my opinion (or perhaps less so, depending on your perspective). The worst thing a festival promoter can ever do is read the comment sections on a lineup announcement article, because people tend to say terrible things about festivals they have no intention of attending. Of course, that’s not always the case— some festivals get incredible responses when they bring an artist to town that hasn’t played the market in years. Take this year’s Governor’s Ball festival on Randall’s Island, which marks the return of Tool to New York after nearly a decade-long absence. Great get by Founders Entertainment, but I’m not picking Governor’s Ball as the best festival lineup of 2017.

I don’t listen to EDM, so pretty much every event promoted by Insomniac or Disco Donnie or LiveStyle is off the list. I love the BottleRock lineup this year with Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters, probably two of my all-time favorite acts, but again, not making the cut. FYF Fest in Los Angeles just dropped their lineup with a headlining slot for two acts I would absolutely love to see — Missy Elliot and A Tribe Called Quest. I’m definitely going this year, but also, definitely not picking them as number one.

Bonnaroo with U2? Awesome. But not number one. Nic Adler’s family-friendly Arroyo Seco Festival in Pasadena with Petty and Mumford, Alabama Shakes, the Shins and Weezer? Hell yeah I’ll be there in dad jeans to see the band Live with original frontman Ed Kowalczyk. It’s gonna be an incredible fin de semana! ¿Para Numero Uno? No lo creo.

And hey, before I pick the number one lineup, I guess it won’t hurt to throw out my number two — that would be Panorama Festival in New York with Frank Ocean, Solange, Alt-J, Nine Inch Nails and A Tribe Called Quest. Seriously, awesome amiright? Better than good….hell, it’s better than great! But there can only be one number one. And unfortunately for Panorama Festival, there is no sharing the top spot.

That’s right. Sharing is not caring, dammit! Unless of course, it’s ME sharing my opinion on the best lineup of 2017, which then must be of some limited importance to you. After all, you’ve made it this far into my essay (we’re at the 700 word mark right now).

So ladies and gentlemen, the best lineup of 2017, in Dave’s very humble opinion, belongs to…..

How did I come to this conclusion? Lollapalooza has booked the most bands that I am interested in seeing this summer. I’ve never seen Chance the Rapper, but love his album Coloring Book and really want to check out his show. Muse and Arcade Fire are probably my two favorite modern rock bands and it’s been a few years since I’ve seen either and think they are great festival headliners. And then rounding out the top of the lineup are a half-dozen acts I would love to see this summer — The XX, Lorde, Justice, Alt-J, Run the Jewels, Cage the Elephant, Ryan Adams, Migos and Spoon.

After the sixth or seventh line, I have no idea who any of these bands are. But I think the top of the lineup is super strong. In fact, it’s the best I’ve seen so far this summer. And although I definitely didn’t pick Lollapalooza because it’s a global festival brand and booked by C3, I will say its a bit of an added bonus since it’s mostly booked by Huston Powell, who is probably one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met in music.

That’s a joke. He’s not very friendly. I’ve been relentlessly pursuing him for the past year asking him for help captioning this photo and he’s both literally and figuratively slammed the door in my face.

What the hell does this picture mean? Why are they standing on the ladder so close together? Is Huston helping this mystery man, or hindering him? How high off the ground are they? And why does this strange ritual play out at night?

I can’t stop thinking about it.

Alas, some mysteries just aren’t meant to be solved. At least we’ve put the best lineup question to rest and hopefully we can all move forward to more important matters, like which lineup poster has the best font. I’m still waiting for someone to publish one in comic sans.

Dave Brooks
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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
Dave Brooks
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