Summer Music Festivals

May 28, 2010, 12:14 a.m.

It’s no secret. Palo Alto isn’t the liveliest of destinations if you’re looking for some musical invigoration. Shoreline Amphitheatre aside, a decent music venue is hard to come by in college town suburbia and Palo Alto is more of a fly-by than anything else on bands’ journeys to The City by the Bay.

Summer sure doesn’t help either.

For those staying on campus from June to August, finding any form of entertainment–audio or otherwise–is a daunting task. With the student population dwindled to a few clusters living in Wilbur, Mirrielees and the odd Row House, on-campus happenings–EPGY mixers aside–are hard to come by and Palo Alto becomes a little more constricting. There are only so many times you can walk up and down University Avenue.

So if you need to scratch your itch for good music or just get away from the palm trees and the burbs, here are a couple summer options. None require the time or financial commitment of a Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, and they all provide some form of escape within an hour’s commute.

ETD POP 2010

Summer Music FestivalsFor those unable to wait for summer, ETD POP 2010 may provide a little static sampler before finals week. Scheduled to take place this Saturday at Cow Palace, the 13th annual installation of the festival will look to turn the legendary venue into an electronic fortress. Organizers expect the 10,000+ capacity venue to be packed for artists from Dim Mak golden boy Steve Aoki, to European trance king Armin Van Buuren. This year’s festival, labeled “The Dream,” will also feature Benny Benassi, Stanford-favorites LA Riots and the always-entertaining Infected Mushroom. General admission tickets are on sale now for $70 a pop and festival doors open at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

BFD 2010

Finals are overrated anyways, right? For those able to squeeze some time out of their busy schedules during the Sunday of finals week, BFD 2010 at Shoreline Amphitheatre may be a worthwhile diversion. Not only does the festival feature the reincarnation of L.B.C. legends Sublime, but also the latest in indie, electronic, punk and rock. Among the other headliners include Deftones and Silversun Pickups, while familiar names such as Spoon and Against Me! fill up slots on the de facto side stage. Also popular will be the Subsonic Tent with acts like Matt & Kim, Toxic Avenger and The Limousines. Tickets are still on sale for the one-day event.


No, it’s not just a summer thing, but Popscene may be one of the most underrated music scenes in the Bay Area. Over the years, the Bay Area venue has provided indie enthusiasts with an intimate setting to see up-and-coming acts for a paltry price. Among the names on an endless list of those who have graced Popscene’s stage include Bloc Party, Death Cab for Cutie and Vampire Weekend. The early summer lineup at the 330 Ritch Street fixture is just as promising with acts for June including Delorean, Delphic and Hot Hot Heat. Most tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

Summer Music FestivalsIn its third year of operation, Outside Lands is scaling back slightly. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place over two days instead of the usual three on Aug. 14 and 15 in Golden Gate Park. But while they’ve cut the festival a day short, organizers don’t seem to be holding back in booking acts. Kings of Leon have already confirmed their appearance while Phoenix, Arcade Fire and Al Green are among some of the more high-profile rumors. The full lineup will be released on June 1, and advance two-day tickets should be available shortly thereafter.

Stern Grove Festival

Who said the best things in life aren’t free? Every year since 1938, the Stern Grove Festival Association has been providing an admission-free performing arts series featuring some of the most diverse acts from the Bay Area community. Located, as always, at Sigmund Stern Grove, the festival will take place from June 20 to Aug. 22. In a display of its characteristic diversity, festival organizers have booked everyone from the San Francisco Opera on July 4 to They Might Be Giants and Rogue Wave in late August. A complete calendar of the free events can be found online at

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