The festival scene has long been a fabric of summer in Greater Cincinnati, with church and neighborhood festivals going down every weekend across the region. But during the past decade, almost as many music festivals have popped into the area as well.
From big-ticket, multi-day events to relatively smaller affairs with a focus on local performers, music lovers in Cincinnati now have tons of options for multi-act fests in the summertime.
Here are just a few choice options coming up; keep reading CityBeat all summer for more news on all of these (and the many others).
Northside Music Festival
WHAT: For the first time in its seven-year history, the Rock/Indie/Roots/Electronic/Hip Hop/Etc. Northside Music Festival expands to two nights. Presented by the Northside Tavern and We Have Become Vikings, the eclectic, free fest features some of the best musical acts in town, plus a couple of excellent Columbus, Ohio-based bands — The Nightbeast and Lab Partners.
WHEN: June 13-14
WHERE: Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside
WHO: Brian Olive, The Sundresses, Dream Tiger, State Song, Jeremy Pinnell, Ohio Knife, Abiyah, Young Heirlooms, The Perfect Children, Molly Sullivan and more
MORE INFO: Free; northsidemusicfest.com
AYE Music & Art Festival
WHAT: Now in its ninth year, the AYE (Adjust Your Eyes) festival is presented by local label Grasshopper Juice. The great local music and art (including stage installations, light shows and more) showcase reflects the label’s diverse output, with music ranging from Hip Hop and Electronic music to Rock, Punk, Experimental sounds and beyond.
WHEN: June 27-28
WHERE: Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky.
WHO: Black Signal, Meiosis, Counterfeit Money Machine, Peridoni, ethosine, Evolve, Don’t Fear the Satellites, Hunterquinn, Sweet Ray Laurel, LZRPNY and more
MORE INFO: $12 (one-day ticket); $20 (two-day pass); facebook.com/ayemusicandartfestival
Northside Rock and Roll Carnival
WHAT: Fourth of July in Northside is Cincinnati’s weirdest, coolest way to celebrate America’s independence thanks to the brilliantly eclectic and eccentric July 4 parade and the nearby three-day Rock and Roll Carnival.
WHEN: July 3-5
WHERE: Hoffner Park, 4104 Hamilton Ave., Northside
WHO: Twin Peaks, Tweens, Radioactivity, Protomartyr, Jaill, Bad Sports, Idiot Glee, Bummers Eve, The Cincinnati Suds, Leggy, Perfect Children, Mardou, The Hiders, Fist of Love and more
MORE INFO: Free; northsiderocks.com
Bunbury Music Festival
WHAT: Inspired by huge destination festivals like Lollapalooza, local musician/event entrepreneur Bill Donabedian brings his AltRock-centric Bunbury Music Festival back for its third year along the Ohio River’s banks.
WHEN: July 11-13
WHERE: Sawyer Point, 705 E.
Pete Rose Way, Downtown, and the neighboring Yeatman’s Cove (on the riverfront)
WHO: The Flaming Lips, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Empire of the Sun, Foxy Shazam, Cage the Elephant, Fitz and the Tantrums, Young the Giant, ZZ Ward, Heartless Bastards, Cults, The Orwell and more
MORE INFO: $65 (one-day ticket); $145 (three-day pass); bunburyfestival.com
Vans Warped Tour
WHAT: Warped Tour was created in the mid-’90s during the “traveling festival” boom but continued to thrive even when stationary events took over. Warped Tour continues to bring dozens of crowd-pleasers and up-and-comers to cities across the country for an affordable ticket price.
WHEN: July 16
WHERE: Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave., Anderson
WHO: Every Time I Die, Falling in Reverse, Yellowcard, Bayside, Bowling for Soup, The Ready Set, The Devil Wears Prada, BoyMeetsWorld, Saves the Day, Of Mice and Men, Mixtapes and more
MORE INFO: $38.50, $45 day of show; riverbend.org
Buckle Up Music Festival
WHAT: With Bunbury drawing thousands of music fans to the Cincinnati riverfront, founder Bill Donabedian decided to follow it up with another huge event at the same space, this time focusing on music that draws incredibly well in Greater Cincinnati — Country and Americana. This is Buckle Up’s debut event.
WHEN: July 18-20
WHERE: Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, and the neighboring Yeatman’s Cove (on the riverfront)
WHO: Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Alabama, The Band Perry, Emmylou Harris, Old Crow Medicine Show, Drive-By Truckers, The Lone Bellow, Houndmouth and more
MORE INFO: $65 (one-day ticket); $145 (three-day pass); buckleupfestival.com
Macy’s Music Festival
WHAT: A legendary Cincinnati music event showcasing classic and modern R&B artists, the Macy’s Music Festival has been around in some form since 1962. Artists from Aretha Franklin to Miles Davis have appeared at the event.
WHEN: July 25-26
WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium, 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Downtown
WHO: Charlie Wilson, Robin Thicke, New Edition, Chaka Kahn, Ne-Yo, Mint Condition, Chrisette Michelle, Keyshia Cole and more
MORE INFO: $48-$88; macysmusicfestival.com
Cincy Blues Fest
WHAT: The Cincy Blues Society has presented the Cincy Blues Fest for more than two decades, making it one of the longest-running Blues festivals in the Midwest. It’s a truly unique event, too, with its special side-stages, including one spotlighting Boogie Woogie Blues pianists. It’s also a great chance to check out some of the best Blues artists Greater Cincinnati has to offer alongside the national/international talent.
WHEN: Aug. 1-2
WHERE: Sawyer Point Park, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown
WHO: Guy Forsyth, Dana Fuchs, Jarekus Singleton, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan, Selwyn Birchwood and more
MORE INFO: $15 (one-day ticket); $20 (two-day pass); cincybluesfest.org
Stanley’s Summer Music Festival
WHAT: The longtime original local music supporters at Stanley’s Pub also get into the summertime music-fest mood every year. Along with Stanley’s Reggae Fest (June 21) and Stanley’s Blues & BBQ festival (July 26), music lovers can catch the Jam band-centric 14th annual Stanley’s Summer Music Festival.
WHEN: Aug. 22-23
WHERE: Stanley’s Pub, 323 Stanley Ave., Columbia-Tusculum
WHO: Strange Mechanics, Boogie Matrix, Subterranean House Band, Jerry’s Little Band, Spookfloaters, Grover, Dr. Foxcroft and more
MORE INFO: $12 cover (daily); facebook.com/stanleys.pub
Whispering Beard Folk Festival
WHAT: Founded in 2008, this Folk/Roots/Americana fest continues to grow, attracting great lineups and an ever-growing, die-hard fan base to the heart of nearby Friendship, Ind., almost completely by word of mouth.
WHEN: Aug. 22-24
WHERE: First Street and Friendship Road, Friendship, Ind.
WHO: Fairfield Four, Michael Cleveland
& Flamekeeper, Possessed by Paul James, J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt
Daubers, Willy Tea Taylor, The Tillers, Chicago Farmer, The Whiskey
Gentry and more
MORE INFO: $65 (weekend pass; price will increase soon); $20-$40 (one-day ticket); whisperingbeard.com