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Concerts Music Festivals

Top 100 Music Festival Lineups of All Time

June 26, 2018 by Vivid Seats and Consequence of Sound

The Greatest Music Festivals Ever

Vivid Seats and Consequence of Sound break down the best music festival lineups ever.

For more than a half-century, festivals have been a pillar of the North American music scene. From Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin performing at Woodstock in 1969 to Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, and Nine Inch Nails taking the stage at Bonnaroo in 2009, some music festivals have risen above the rest.

Vivid Seats and Consequence of Sound teamed up to compile the Top 100 Music Festival Lineups of All Time in North America. Drawing from exhaustive research and analysis of more than 1000 festival lineups, the list is guided by a simple principle: What did seeing this lineup at that moment in history mean to those in attendance?  

Exploring these celebrated festivals ultimately reminds us of their power to form unforgettable memories as we sing deep into the night while our favorite performers electrify the crowd.


Vivid Seats/Consequence of Sound Top 100 Music Festival Lineups of All Time

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The Top 50 | The Top 10

100. Pickathon (2013)

Pickathon 2013 Lineup Poster

Date(s): August 2-4

Location: Happy Valley, Ore.

Headliners: Feist, Andrew Bird, Divine Fits, and The Devil Makes Three

What Pickathon does outside of Portland is truly special for a lot of reasons, most prominently its intimate wooded setting. Imagine turning a corner and coming upon a clearing in which a young Sturgill Simpson is crooning, Shakey Graves is shaking, or King Tuff is shredding. Then the next night you're stumbling upon a Divine Fits dance party or a White Fence freak-out. Pickathon is the rare truly unique experience, and 2013 presented the best bill with which to experience it. –Ben Kaye


99. The Roots Picnic (2010)

Date(s): June 5

Location: Philadelphia

Headliners: The Roots, Vampire Weekend, and Method Man, Ghostface, and Raekwon

The third edition of The Roots’ annual hometown throw-down featured an inspired and eclectic mix, including tUnE-yArDs, Meek Mill, and Mayer Hawthorne warming up the main stage. The Roots were joined by John Legend and Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghostface, added after a planned Run-DMC reunion was scrapped. Closers Vampire Weekend stormed through tracks from Contra, then only a few months old. Side stage acts even included Clipse. –Scott T Sterling


98. Corona Capital (2015)

Date(s): November 21-22

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Headliners: Kings of Leon, Jack White, Morrissey, Massive Attack, Beck, and Damon Albarn

For a festival so upfront about capitalistic cash-ins that it's named after a sponsor, Corona Capital spent its fifth year turning Mexico City into a getaway vacation for England's musical elite — and they brought England's weather with them. Massive Attack and Damon Albarn christened the stage while The Kooks, Kasabian, and neighbors Lykke Li and Melody's Echo Chamber warmed it up. –Nina Corcoran


97. Osheaga (2014)

Date(s): August 1-3

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Headliners: Outkast, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and The Replacements

Osheaga never pigeonholed itself into one genre, hence the wide headliner spread in 2014. Outkast repped rap, Jack White covered rock, Arctic Monkeys had indie rock, Skrillex did EDM, Lorde was pop, and The Replacements were a throwback. And somehow the festival still had money for a solid undercard, too. –Nina Corcoran


96. Pitchfork (2007)

Date(s): July 18-20

Location: Chicago

Headliners: Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, New Pornographers, Slint, and De La Soul

In its second year as a full-fledged independent festival, Pitchfork built upon the hipster-approved blogrock of the 2006 edition by reaching further across genres and eras. Yoko Ono was the biggest get (it remains the most recent of her three or so American festival appearances), but the Friday full-album sets, the fest's first hip-hop headliner, and I-saw-them-when sets by acts like Beach House and Clipse make this one worth updating your MySpace about. –Tyler Clark


95. Eaux Claires (2015)

2015 Eaux Claires Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 17-18

Location: Eau Claire, Wis.

Headliners: Bon Iver, The National, Sufjan Stevens, and Spoon

The brainchild of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner, the first edition of Eaux Claires brought their collaborative spirit to Wisconsin — near where Vernon famously wrote For Emma, Forever Ago. Bon Iver's set dusted off rarities like "Lump Sum" and "Blindsided" from their acclaimed debut and welcomed special guests like Colin Stetson, The Staves, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner to the stage. –Killian Young


94. Shaky Knees (2015)

Date(s): May 8-10

Location: Atlanta

Headliners: The Strokes, Wilco, Pixies, Tame Impala, Ryan Adams, and Neutral Milk Hotel

The Strokes played their first concert of the year, debuting “All the Time” and dusting off “You Talk Way Too Much” for the first time since 2004. Perhaps even more impressively, Tame Impala proved why they would be a festival juggernaut for years to come, cruising through Currents’ “Let It Happen”, “Eventually”, and “Disciples” two months before the album’s official release. –Killian Young


93. Summer Jam (1994)

Date(s): June 21

Location: East Rutherford, N.J.

Headliners: Wu-Tang Clan, Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, and Nas

Imagine hearing Illmatic, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and Midnight Marauders all within a year of their respective releases. The inaugural edition of Hot 97's Summer Jam brought together a legitimate who's who of future hip-hop legends to the Meadowlands Arena, while also ushering the rap festival into the mainstream. –Killian Young


92. Camp Flog Gnaw (2015)

Date(s): November 14

Location: Los Angeles

Headliners: Snoop Dogg, Tyler, The Creator, Odd Future, A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, and Danny Brown

Though the Tyler, The Creator-curated festival began from humble beginnings in 2012, it really came into its own in 2015, snagging some of the best hip-hop acts of the past, present, and future, even including a secret set from Vince Staples. Odd Future performed as a group for the last time ever – though they were missing Tyler and Earl – marking the end of an unfortunately short and incredibly chaotic era. –Steven Edelstone


91. Moogfest (2014)

Date(s): April 23-27

Location: Asheville, N.C.

Headliners: Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, M.I.A., Giorgio Moroder, and CHIC ft. Nile Rodgers

2014's Moogfest turned the clock back to 1985, and showgoers couldn't be more thrilled. Moog has become as respected as the musicians that use their gear — a rarity in music brands, and capitalism as a whole. Kraftwerk performed its 3D shows while Laurie Anderson charmed during her solo set — with her Moog voice filters, of course. –Steven Edelstone


90. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (2010)

2010 Hardly Strictly Business Bluegrass Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): October 1-3

Location: San Francisco

Headliners: Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Randy Newman, Conor Oberst, and Avett Brothers

San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass offers the best bang for your buck ... and not only because it's completely free. 2010 was likely the fest's best ever lineup, offering up the legendary likes of Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Randy Newman, The Avett Brothers, MC Hammer(!), Jenny Lewis, the late, great Sharon Jones, and as always, Conor Oberst. Not bad for a free ticket! –Steven Edelstone


89. Riot Fest (2013)

Date(s): Traveling

Location: Chicago, Toronto and Denver

Headliners: The Replacements, Iggy and the Stooges, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, and Pixies

After imploding on stage during their set at the 1991 Taste of Chicago, The Replacements returned to the Windy City (as well as Toronto and Denver) as conquering heroes rather than drunk embarrassments. Reunions were a mini-theme of this year's lineup, which also featured now-rare appearances by everyone from Quicksand to The Dismemberment Plan to Rocket from the Crypt. Plus, they had a carnival. Who doesn't want to ride a Ferris wheel while listening to Danzig? –Tyler Clark


88. Boston Calling (2017)

Date(s): May 26-28

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Headliners: Tool, Chance the Rapper, Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, and The XX

Boston Calling moved to a full three-day, three-stage format in 2017, and they showed the big boys they came to play. From local acts to the growth of the comedy stage into a major draw to Wolf Parade, Sigur Rós, The XX, Danny Brown, Moses Sumney, and Lucy Dacus, there just isn't a lick of fat on this bill. Seeing a tiny event grow into something this major should give you faith that festivals aren't dead in the 2010s.–Ben Kaye


87. Big Ears (2010)

Date(s): March 26-28

Location: Knoxville, Tenn.

Headliners: The National, Joanna Newsom, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, and The XX

Big Ears 2010 was a haven for music fans that appreciate loud, dark sounds and a pleasant surprise to anyone who rolled their eyes when Bryce Dessner of headliners The National was tapped as a co-curator. Tim Hecker, Liturgy, William Basinski (of the famed Disintegration Loops), Ben Frost, and Gang Gang Dance represented a stark contrast to the syrupy sounds of Joanna Newsom and My Brightest Diamond. A solid lineup, and one that gave attendees of all taste persuasions a chance to experience something new. –Meagan Fredette


86. Voodoo Fest (2004)

Date(s): October 16-17

Location: New Orleans

Headliners: Beastie Boys, Green Day, Pixies, and Sonic Youth

The Pixies? The Sonic Youth? In 2004? A more Gen X-friendly headlining bill could hardly be conceived, but Voodoo Fest's tight day-and-a-half schedule ensured only quality acts. Hip-hop was also faithfully represented, with the inclusion of A Tribe Called Quest, Mix Master Mike, and Cypress Hill. Sometimes less really is more. –Meagan Fredette


85. Texxas World Music Festival (1978)

1985 Texas World Music Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): June 30-July 4

Location: Dallas

Headliners: Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart, and Van Halen

The lineup was late ‘70s rock and roll heaven, but record-breaking 120-degree temps made it feel like hell for the 80,000 in attendance. It was a huge show for Van Halen, just months removed from releasing their debut album. Coming directly from Japan, lost gear forced the band to improvise on borrowed equipment, and they still stole the show from headliners Aerosmith, who were joined by Ted Nugent. Cheech & Chong even provided between-set comic relief. –Scott T Sterling


84. Goose Lake International Music Festival (1970)

Date(s): August 7-9

Location: Leoni Township, Mich.

Headliners: Bob Seger, MC5, The Stooges, Faces, Jethro Tull, and Chicago

With legendary Detroit promoter Russ Gibb at the helm and local businessman Richard Songer using his own 350-acre plot of land, “Michigan’s Woodstock” drew more than 200,00 rock fans, but legend has it a mere 45,000 paid the $15 entrance fee, with most utilizing holes in the barbed wire-topped fence surrounding the site. The wild event was overrun with drugs, landing Songer in court for facilitation. He was found not guilty. –Scott T Sterling


83. Noise Pop (2001)

Date(s): Traveling

Location: San Francisco and Chicago

Headliners: Bright Eyes, Jimmy Eat World, Spoon, The Shins, Superchunk, and The White Stripes

Noise Pop continued its rich history of showcasing area artists and rising alternative acts across multiple intimate San Francisco venues. This edition included The White Stripes rocking the Great American Music Hall right after the release of White Blood Cells, The Shins supporting locals The Aisler Set at Bottom of the Hill, and Superchunk and Spoon teaming up at Bimbo’s 365 Club. –Killian Young


82. Governors Ball (2013)

Date(s): June 7-9

Location: Randall's Island, New York City

Headliners: Kanye West, Kings of Leon, and Guns N' Roses

Governors Ball commenced on Randall’s Island in 2013 despite flash flood warnings. Flipping the bird at less than favorable conditions, Kanye West debuted five new songs from Yeezus. Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, and Guns N' Roses delighted crowds, but, sadly, the festival was dead in the water by Kings of Leon. –Karas Lamb


81. Street Scene (2005)

Date(s): July 29-30

Location: San Diego

Headliners: The White Stripes, The Killers, Snoop Dogg, Pixies, Garbage, and The Flaming Lips

In 2005, two decades into its existence, San Diego's now-defunct Street Scene bubbled over. It relocated from Gaslamp Quarter to Qualcomm Stadium to accommodate for the growth: Snoop Dogg, Pixies, Garbage, The White Stripes. And to think, the day started off with Death Cab for Cutie and Spoon in their prime. –Nina Corcoran


80. FYF (2017)

FYF 2017 Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 21-23

Location: Los Angeles

Headliners: Missy Elliott, Björk, Frank Ocean, Nine Inch Nails, A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, Iggy Pop, and Solange

FYF's swan song included such luminaries as Missy Elliot, Nine Inch Nails, and Björk. Its cool-kid vibe is partially to blame for its demise; abuse thrives in cultures of aloofness. Still, the artists on the 2017 bill represented a fight against that culture: women musicians, while still not an equal fraction, were represented in greater numbers than festivals past. Solange, quickly making a name as a modern legend, was a standout, as was NIN's loving tribute to David Bowie. –Meagan Fredette


79. Summer Jam (2000)

Date(s): June 30-July 2

Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Headliners: Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg

One year before Jay-Z posterized Prodigy on the Summer Jam screen, HOT 97’s annual festival hosted a west coast invasion as Cali rap titans Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg headlined with Eminem fresh off the debut of The Marshall Mathers LP. Aaliyah’s set was her final performance at the fest. –Karas Lamb


78. Hangout Festival (2011)

Date(s): May 20-22

Location: Gulf Shores, Ala.

Headliners: Foo Fighters, Paul Simon, The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, and The Flaming Lips

Alabama hit a goldmine in 2011. Hangout Festival scooped up a string of headliners that were as exciting back then as they are today, especially if you love to jam: Paul Simon, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, and Foo Fighters. –Nina Corcoran


77. Austin City Limits (2014)

Date(s): Oct 3-5, Oct 10-12

Location: Austin, Texas

Headliners: Eminem, Pearl Jam, Outkast, Skrillex, Beck, and Calvin Harris

Austin City Limits has gone head to head with Coachella for the better part of a decade, and 2014 is a strong case for their contention over the years. Boasting two of hip hop’s GOAT acts in Eminem and Outkast with Pearl Jam sandwiched between is the stuff of legends, especially considering deep undercard additions like Interpol and Sam Smith. –John Flynn


76. World's Greatest Funk Festival (1979)

Date(s): July 1

Location: Detroit

Headliners: Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy's Rubberband, and Rick James

It was a true summit of funk superstars as the Mothership landed over hordes of frenzied fans at Detroit’s notorious Pontiac Silverdome. The Gap Band, Brides of Funkenstein, and George Clinton’s P-Funk girl-group spin-off, Parlet, rounded out the “Eight Hours of Pure Funk,” per the newspaper ad. Rick James was a breakout star of the show, just three months from dropping his second album of the year, Fire It Up. –Scott T Sterling


75. Rock the Bells (2007)

2007 Rock the Bells Lineup Poster

Date(s): Various

Location: New York, San Bernardino, and San Francisco

Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill, The Roots, and Public Enemy

Rock the Bells played host to Rage Against the Machine’s highly anticipated reunion tour in 2007. The band rocked alongside co-headliners Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill during four days in New York, San Bernardino, and San Francisco where RATM was the first non-rap act to headline the hip-hop festival. –Karas Lamb


74. Detroit Electronic Music Festival (2000)

Date(s): May 27-29

Location: Detroit

Headliners: The Roots, Mos Def, Richie Hawtin, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson

Detroit’s rich techno subculture had been years in the works by the time that DEMF arrived, and the inaugural year paid homage by featuring some of the city's finest talents with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson fronting the bill, along with a lethal dose of hip-hop and soul in Mos Def and The Roots. –John Flynn


73. Sasquatch! (2007)

Date(s): May 26-27

Location: George, Washington

Headliners: Björk, Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, St. Vincent, and Spoon

Not only was this Sasquatch! lineup stacked, but the entire event took place over just two days (for the final time in the festival’s history). The scenic Gorge Amphitheater played host to not one, but two Beastie Boys sets. And Arcade Fire returned as a top-line act, with Neon Bible in tow, after a triumphant performance two years prior. M.I.A. was also on the bill, but couldn’t make it due to visa issues. –Killian Young


72. Warped Tour (1996)

Date(s): Various

Location: Traveling

Headliners: Blink-182, Deftones, NOFX, and Pennywise

If the inaugural Warped Tour in 1995 got the roving punk rock summer camp off the ground, 1996 was the year that Kevin Lyman turned Warped into a formidable festival force. Featuring indie heavyweights like NOFX, Pennywise, and Face to Face alongside megastars in training like Blink-182, Warped began the process of solidifying itself as an alternative-alternative rock festival. –Ryan Bray


71. Riot Fest (2017)

Date(s): September 15-17

Location: Chicago

Headliners: Jawbreaker, Nine Inch Nails, QOTSA, New Order, Wu-Tang Clan, Paramore, M.I.A., and At the Drive-In

From its 2005 inception as a festival held at multiple venues around Chicago, the aptly dubbed Riot Fest, which specializes in punk, alternative rock, and hard-hitting hip-hop, has always resisted the idea that less is more. That is until co-founder Sean McKeough died in late 2016 and the festival decided it needed to drop its Denver iteration the following year and return to its Chi-town roots.

While seeing the fest become a one-town affair again may have been a bummer, there’s absolutely nothing depressing about a lineup full of classic, can’t-miss acts like Jawbreaker, Nine Inch Nails, and New Order. –Regan Bexler'


70. Lollapalooza (2012)

2012 Lollapalooza FEstival Lineup Poster

Date(s): August 3-5

Location: Chicago

Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White, and Florence + the Machine

Lollapalooza 2012 was a mess. A severe Midwestern thunderstorm on Saturday forced the evacuation of over 60,000 people from Grant Park to, well, anywhere they could find cover. Massive crowds shut down traffic on the buttressing Michigan Avenue, arguably the city's busiest street. The rest of the weekend was spent playing catch-up with the schedule while mud caked attendees up to their knees. Luckily, Frank Ocean's beautiful set soothed any discontent, and Black Sabbath channeled that rage into a mind-blowing 10-minute drum solo by Tommy Clufetos. –Meagan Fredette


69. Vegoose (2007)

Date(s): October 27-28

Location: Las Vegas

Headliners: Daft Punk, Rage Against the Machine, Iggy and the Stooges, and Muse

The last of three annual Halloween shows is hallowed ground for Daft Punk fans, as it’s the site of the band’s last US concert to date. The celebratory show was the Stateside culmination of the Alive 2006/2007 tour, and that collective energy was palpable. Iggy and the Stooges playing Fun House front to back and blistering sets from Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine were just icing on the disco robot cake. –Scott T Sterling


68. Summer Jam at Watkins Glen (1973)

Date(s): July 28

Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Headliners: Grateful Dead, The Band, and the Allman Brothers Band        

With 600,000 descending upon Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway, the 1973 Summer Jam at Watkins Glen will forever warrant its historic repute by virtue of its turnout alone. So staggering was the assemblage of people that most of the audience were unable to see the likes of The Band and the Grateful Dead performing on stage, and several historians later claimed it was the largest gathering of people in the history of the United States at the time. –Brian Coney


67. FYF (2016)

Date(s): August 27-28

Location: Los Angeles

Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, Grace Jones, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala, Air, and Grimes

FYF has always felt like Coachella's impossibly cool sibling, and this year was no exception. In 2016, they booked artists that make listeners feel more enlightened by association, though that's not a criticism — it's a testament to how deeply acts like Grace Jones, Explosions in the Sky, and Kendrick Lamar have influenced pop culture. Other inventive acts, like Oneohtrix Point Never and Blood Orange, made sure the audience used their brains. It was a shame that technical stage issues riddled such a stellar lineup, but anyone dancing to the reunited LCD Soundsystem was lost in their own world. –Meagan Fredette


66. California Jam (1974)

Date(s): April 6

Location: Ontario, California

Headliners: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Not only did 1974’s California Jam boast some of rock’s greatest heavyweights as headliners, but it also brought together some of the century’s biggest musical acts in one lineup. A backing by ABC made it possible for viewers to see the sets from celebrated lineup standouts like Earth, Wind & Fire, The Eagles, and Deep Purple - where guitarist Ritchie Blackmore infamously smashed his guitar into a camera before hurling its remnants into the crowd - from their own home. California Jam was so successful that it was resurrected four years later as California Jam II. –Lindsay Teske


65. Day for Night (2016)

2016 Day for Night Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): December 17-18

Location: Houston

Headliners: Aphex Twin, Björk, Travis Scott, and The Jesus and Mary Chain

Aphex Twin’s first US show in over eight years was a major coup for Day for Night. But beyond its other top-notch artists (Björk’s interactive digital experience, a reunited Butthole Surfers, John Carpenter), the festival continued to establish itself as a mesmerizing experience of sound and light by moving into its new home — a warehouse converted from a former post office. –Killian Young


64. Outside Lands (2017)

Date(s): August 11-13

Location: San Francisco

Headliners: Metallica, The Who, Gorillaz, Lorde, and A Tribe Called Quest

Sure, the cancellation of A Tribe Called Quest and Queens of the Stone Age put a damper on this fest, but Outside Lands showed how deep this lineup was even without two of its biggest gets. Gorillaz brought out damn near everyone, and Lorde and Solange showed The Who that the next class of headliners is more than alright. –Steven Edelstone


63. Northern California Folk-Rock Festival (1968)

Date(s): May 18-19

Location: San Jose, Calif.

Headliners: Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Country Joe and the Fish

Drawing as many as 100,000 people over two days -- a much bigger crowd than anyone could have expected -- the inaugural Northern California Folk-Rock Festival was a clear-cut attempt to cash in on the Monterey Pop model with a lucrative rock concert. Numerous drug overdoses aside, it succeeded and lays claim to one of the decade's most quintessential rock festival lineups. –Brian Coney


62. Bonnaroo (2014)

Date(s): June 12-15

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Lionel Richie, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Frank Ocean, and The Flaming Lips

Was this the last great Bonnaroo? The Manchester, Tennessee, fest has declined in recent years, but 2014 offered a monster lineup, including the legendary Jack White headlining set, complete with a 10-song encore. Festivalgoers were also treated to a rare Frank Ocean performance, as well as Kanye’s quest for redemption, Elton John sing-alongs, and a seemingly way-too-early mid-afternoon set from Arctic Monkeys. –Steven Edelstone


61. Street Scene (2006)

Date(s): August 4-5

Location: San Diego

Headliners: Tool, Kanye West, A.F.I., Snoop Dogg, Social Distortion, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wu-Tang Clan, and Queens of the Stone Age

Kanye West was still riding high after Late Registration, but gave the crowd a taste of Graduation with “The Glory” a year before its release. After not touring since 2002, Tool hit the road again in support of 10,000 Days, landing at Qualcomm Stadium for one of only two US festival dates this year. My Chemical Romance and Lupe Fiasco were also both slated to appear but had to cancel their sets due to injuries. –Killian Young


60. Ozark Music Festival (1974)

1974 Ozark Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 19-21

Location: Sedalia, Mo.

Headliners: Aerosmith, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Eagles, America, Joe Walsh, Blue Oyster Cult, REO Speedwagon, and Lynyrd Skynyrd

The tiny town of Sedalia, Missouri, was in no way prepared for the rock and roll debauchery that overwhelmed it with the arrival of this infamous one-time event. Sold to the local officials as a soft-rock and bluegrass show for 50,000 fans, more than 150,000 folks rolled in and took over, thanks in large part to a full-page ad in Rolling Stone. Sex, drugs, and so much American heartland rock and roll ensued. –Scott T Sterling


59. Bridge School Benefit (2000)

Date(s): October 28-29

Location: Bay Area, California

Headliners: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Robin Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foo Fighters

Neil Young always looked for fresh angles to bring to his annual Bridge School Benefit, but he particularly knocked it out of the park in 2000. In addition to reuniting Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for the benefit for the first time since 1989, the 2000 lineup might be the fest’s most diverse. Young brought together old friends (Tom Petty) alongside new ones like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, and Dave Matthews. He even roped in Robin Williams for a little added hysteria. –Ryan Bray


58. Coachella (2015)

Date(s): April 10-19

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Drake, ACDC, Jack White, Tame Impala, The Weeknd, and Florence + the Machine

The real allure of Coachella's 2015 lineup was its incredibly forward-thinking sub-headliner bookings, all of which have or will secure headline slots at festivals nationwide in the years to come. It's the perfect example of how the gargantuan festival has continued to set itself apart. Seeing Tame Impala open for ACDC is bucket list material for sure. –John Flynn


57. Newport Folk Festival (2015)

Date(s): July 24-26

Location: Newport, R.I.

Headliners: Roger Waters, '65 Revisited, Sufjan Stevens, Tommy Stinson, J. Mascis, and Jon Batiste

Folksters had been crowing about Newport Folk's revival for years at this point, but 2015 was when everyone else really paid attention. My Morning Jacket played an unannounced set and then backed Roger Waters; James Taylor played an unannounced set to finish the one that was rained out in 1969; the performers at the '65 Revisit festival-closing set honoring Bob Dylan were completely unannounced. The stuff they didn't tell you was that good, which speaks volumes. –Ben Kaye


56. Farm Aid (1985)

Date(s): September 22

Location: Champaign, Ill.

Headliners: The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Loretta Lynn, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lou Reed, and Neil Young

Organized by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp as a benefit for America's at-risk farm families, the inaugural edition of Farm Aid found the three blowing out their Rolodexs for a truly stacked one-day festival at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. This heartland blowout, which brought together 30 years' worth of rock, country, and folk luminaries, tugged at Baby Boomer hearts and raised $9 million for its stated cause. –Tyler Clark


55. Atlantic City Pop Festival (1969)

1969 Atlantic City Pop Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): August 1-3

Location: Hamilton Township, N.J.

Headliners: Jefferson Airplane, CCR, Janis Joplin, Santana, and Iron Butterfly

Atlantic City Pop Festival was 1969's 24th festival and the last before Woodstock in mid-August. Attended by 100,000-plus people, it featured Santana's East Coast debut and flaunted a bill of artists, including Buddy Rich and BB King, the likes of which Woodstock had no real equivalent. CSNY didn’t show, and Joni Mitchell bailed after one song, but the festival’s mythical status has been strengthened by the fact that almost no video or audio footage from the festival exists. –Brian Coney


54. Austin City Limits (2018)

Date(s): October 5-14

Location: Austin, Texas

Headliners: Paul McCartney, Metallica, Childish Gambino, and Arctic Monkeys

Sure, Paul McCartney has toured a bunch lately, but ACL secured Macca for his only confirmed festival date of 2018. Ditto for Metallica. Even looking beyond the two other leading acts in Arctic Monkeys and Childish Gambino, the lineup is deep with exciting artists who’ve put out music this year, such as Janelle Monáe, CHVRCHES, David Byrne, and Father John Misty. –Killian Young


53. Newport Jazz Festival (1956)

Date(s): July 5-7

Location: Newport, R.I.

Headliners: Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, and Louis Armstrong

The 1956 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival produced one of the most heralded live albums in jazz history: Ellington at Newport, a vivid (though, it was later revealed, often studio-recreated) portrait of the concert that revitalized the big band legend's flagging career. If you can only queue up one song, check out “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”, which features a 27-chorus connecting sax solo by Paul Gonsalves that whips the audience into a literal frenzy. –Tyler Clark


52. Bonnaroo (2008)

Date(s): June 12-15

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: Pearl Jam, Metallica, Jack Johnson, and Kanye West

If Radiohead in 2006 kicked off Bonnaroo's second phase and 2007 was them successfully blending old and new, 2008 was the fest just going bonkers. Let's forget Kanye's notorious "performance" -- his booking was huge. Chris Rock opened for Metallica (!?). My Morning Jacket played a legendary four-hour set in the rain. Vampire Weekend and MGMT both played on Thursday. M.I.A. vs. Willie Nelson vs. Rilo Kiley was a real conflict that actually happened. Glorious madness, everywhere you looked. –Ben Kaye


51. Sasquatch! (2005)

Date(s): May 28

Location: George, Wash.

Headliners: Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Joanna Newsom, Wilco, Modest Mouse, and Pixies

It may only have been a single-day festival at the time, but Sasquatch! 2005 packed a ton into a 24-hour period, featuring five acts (Pixies, Modest Mouse, Kanye West, Wilco, and “The” Arcade Fire) who have since become bona fide headliners in their own right. But look closer at the small print, and you’ll see one of the deepest lineups to grace the Gorge, including Glen Hansard’s The Frames, Joanna Newsom, and Bloc Party, hot off the release of Silent Alarm. –Steven Edelstone


50. Essence Music Festival (2014)

Essence 2014 Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 4-7

Location: New Orleans

Headliners: Prince, Nas, Janelle Monáe, and Nile Rodgers

This three-day fest was all about Prince (backed by 3rdEyeGirl and the New Power Generation horn section), who topped the Fourth of July bill with an epic two-hour crowd-pleasing show packed with hits. He also picked the acts that preceded him: Chic featuring Nile Rodgers and Janelle Monáe, making cameos during both sets. Prince would even go on to pop up at protege Liv Warfield’s late-night after-party show, hitting the stage around 4 a.m. –Scott T Sterling


49. Beale Street Music Festival (1995)

Date(s): May 5-7

Location: Memphis, Tenn.

Headliners: Fleetwood Mac, Al Green, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, and John Prine

It's difficult to choose just one lineup from the 40-plus years of one of America's longest-running music festivals. In the end, we liked the 1995 edition best; in addition to catching Fleetwood Mac during a rare tour of their 1967-1974 material, it also boasted a high concentration of American music legends, ones from both around the country (the headliners, plus Leon Russell, Dr. John, and more) and Memphis itself (Al Green, Koko Taylor, Rufus and Thomas). –Tyler Clark


48. Atlanta International Pop Festival (1970)

Date(s): July 3-5

Location: Byron, Ga.

Headliners: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, BB King, and Allman Brothers Band

The second — and final — of these festivals was one for the ages. The Allman Brothers Band was still an emerging act, grateful to open the show. They were so well-received that the band was asked back to close the fest on Day 2. In between, massive crowds enjoyed The Jimi Hendrix Experience (whose “Star-Spangled Banner” was highlighted with fireworks), Mountain, Mott the Hoople, and the Bob Seger System over the scorching Fourth of July weekend. –Scott T Sterling


47. Austin City Limits (2011)

Date(s): September 16-18

Location: Austin, Texas

Headliners: Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, and Coldplay

Seeing Stevie Wonder live is a gift. Anyone lucky enough to attend one of his shows is treated to a peerless combination of musical mastery, achingly beautiful songs, and unbridled joy. His set at ACL 2011 was no different, though, as we noted in our original review of the fest, many attendees flocked to see My Morning Jacket's competing set. Still, the overall theme of this lineup felt indebted to Wonder's spirit: soulful rock acts dominated, like Coldplay, Arcade Fire, and The Head and the Heart. –Meagan Fredette


46. Big Sur Folk Festival (1969)

Date(s): September 13-14

Location: Monterey, Calif.

Headliners: Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and CSNY

A first-rate comedown from the heady haze of Woodstock, which was held only weeks earlier, the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival boasted one of the strongest bills of the year by way of Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and festival mainstay Joan Baez. First held five years previously, about 10-15,000 people camped out for three miles up and down the Pacific Coast Highway for this two-day blowout. –Brian Coney


45. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2004)

2004 Dave Chappelle Block Party Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): September 18th

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Headliners: The Roots, Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Dead Prez, Common, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Bilal, John Legend, A-Trak, and The Fugees

In our days of corporate tents and stages, few music festivals could be thought of as surpassing their own medium. Dave Chapelle's Brooklyn Block Party is one of them, though. Most of us, like myself, watched the Michael Gondry-directed documentary, and this was by design. Free tickets were dispersed like illegal rave invitations, and even then, only a few thousand people attended the concert, which was held in one of Bedford-Stuyvesant's empty blocks. In the film, the skies are gray, providing a soothing background for artists like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu to croon masterfully. Rap legends like Black Star (Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def) and Dead Prez lit up the stage with their social criticism at a time when the nation needed those words. It's one of the rare moments in which Kanye West himself played a supporting role — this time to the Fugees, who reunited just for this lineup. The Roots provided backing music, Chappelle provided comedy, and a nation was gifted an enduring example of the vitality of Black art. –Meagan Fredette


44. Coachella (2002)

Date(s): April 27-28

Location: Indio, California

Headliners: Björk, Oasis, The Strokes, Foo Fighters, and The Chemical Brothers

After having her "Pagan Poetry" clip removed from MTV, Björk had hit a pinnacle that she would only further eclipse after the release of Volta and her 2007 headlining Coachella slot. The Reykjavík avant pop star joined an absolutely massive Oasis who seemed an impossible booking at the time, as well as a nascent Strokes and stadium-primed Foo Fighters. –John Flynn


43. First Annual Detroit Rock ‘n Roll Revival (1969)

Date(s): May 30-31

Location: Detroit

Headliners: Sun Ra, MC5, Chuck Berry, and The Stooges

This unlikely collection of artists paid due homage to soul, bebop, protopunk, Motown, funk, and just about everything in between. The sheer contrast of some of the torch bearers of punk music and one of jazz music's most forthright pioneers is astonishing. It's hard to believe this bill existed pre-Woodstock. –John Flynn


42. Lollapalooza (1994)

Date(s): Various

Location: Touring

Headliners: The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, L7, and Green Day

What a difference two years can make. At Lolla '92, both The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana played daytime sets on the side stage. At Lolla 1994, grunge music was the star. Nirvana was booked as the headlining act; however, the band dissolved when Kurt Cobain passed away that April. The atmosphere was thick with grief. His wife, Courtney Love, traveled with the fest in his memorial stead. The supporting acts also paid service to grunge's influences: punk, funk, and hip-hop all contributed to its nascence, and acts like George Clinton and Pharcyde kept this lineup feeling especially cohesive. For the showgoer who wanted something more experimental, Stereolab and The Verve soothed, Boredoms punished, and Guided by Voices gave comfort to those mourning Cobain. –Meagan Fredette


41. Bonnaroo (2012)

Date(s): June 7-10

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: Radiohead, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, The Beach Boys, Bon Iver

The return of Radiohead, of course, gave 2012 a huge boost, but Phish's return would also be major -- as it'd be the historically jammy festival's last jam headliner for four years. Questlove reintroduced the world to D'Angelo with the sneakiest comeback ever during the Superjam. Black Star gave a rare performance, and both The Beach Boys and Ben Folds Five brought their reunion tours to the farm. And Danzig Legacy appeared. At Bonnaroo. Let that sink in. –Ben Kaye


40. Toronto Rock and Roll Revival (1969)

1969 Toronto Rock n Roll Revival Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): September 13

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Headliners: John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, The Doors, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard

Not publicly known in advance, the appearance of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the Plastic Ono Band at the 1969 Toronto Rock and Rock Revival elevated a radical 12-hour music festival to something special. While it would later become a tradition, it doubled up as the first festival where audience members held lighters aloft to welcome a performer onstage (the story goes that fest MC Kim Fowley came up with it in order to ease Lennon's stage fright). –Brian Coney


39. Coachella (2003)

Date(s): April 26-27

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, Iggy and the Stooges, and Sonic Youth

After a few years of trial and error, Coachella arguably found its stride in 2003. Led by the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, and a newly reunited Iggy and the Stooges, 2003 also was the first year Coachella welcomed onsite camping, a feature that helped the festival's drawing power immensely in the years that followed. –Ryan Bray


38. Newport Jazz Festival (1954)

Date(s): July 17-18

Location: Newport, R.I.

Headliners: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, and Gene Krupa

As experiments go, this one was pretty inspired. Billed as the first jazz festival, the inaugural edition of the Newport Jazz Festival may very well be the first modern American music festival period. Held over two days on the lawn of the Newport Casino, the festival filled the summer skies with indelible sounds of jazz history, including the voices of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, the piano of George Shearing, and the trumpet of Dizzy Gillespie. –Tyler Clark


37. Lollapalooza (2010)

Date(s): August 6-8

Location: Chicago

Headliners: Soundgarden, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Green Day, and Phoenix

At Lolla 2010, Perry Farrell went heavy on the EDM "experience" and ticket sales; the fest had reached its peak attendance up to that point. But huddled masses and corporate-branded techno stages couldn't hold a candle to Lady Gaga's headlining performance. The Fame Monster had just been released; it was arguably Gaga's theatrical peak. She changed costumes, wore vertiginous shoes lacking any heels, and seemed in command of her new, if short-lived, pop crown. And despite the thousands of ecstasy-laden ravers, the rock lineup was solid, with Soundgarden dazzling the Chicago festival. It was the band's first show in 13 years. They didn't need dancers or dizzying lights. The late Chris Cornell's voice was more than enough. –Meagan Fredette


36. Bonnaroo (2013)

Date(s): June 13-16

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Björk, and Wilco

It's hard to root for a lot of Roo's later lineups, but 2013 was the last of the greats. ZZ Top played against the Wu-Tang Clan, and Kendrick Lamar was a third-tier act -- that's the world 2013 was living in. Jim James also led arguably the last of the "iconic" Superjams (2015 came close), and it was slotted late night against Billy Idol and "Weird Al" Yankovic, which may be one of the most mind-shattering conflicts in history based on pure performance prowess. –Ben Kaye


35. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest (2016)

2016 New Orleans Jazz Fest Lineup Poster

Date(s): April 22-May 1

Location: New Orleans

Headliners: Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Steely Dan, and Van Morrison

The 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival occurred days after the deaths of Prince and NOLA’s Allen Toussaint. The two-day fest doubled as a tribute with performances from Paul Simon, Neil Young, Steely Dan, and Van Morrison. Stevie Wonder performed “Purple Rain” acapella with a megaphone in the rain. –Karas Lamb


34. Bridge School Benefit (1997)

Date(s): October 18-19

Location: Bay Area, California

Headliners: Neil Young, Metallica, Lou Reed, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Alanis Morissette

Never underestimate the power of Neil Young. As the organizer of the weekend-long charity concert Bridge School Benefit, he convinced Metallica, Lou Reed, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band, and more to perform stripped-down sets to more children than they were probably used to, curating a festival environment that was as memorable as it was intimate — something most festivals could only dream of. –Nina Corcoran


33. Denver Pop Festival (1969)

Date(s): June 27-29

Location: Denver, Colorado

Headliners: Tim Buckley, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Frank Zappa, Iron Butterfly, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Though swiftly eclipsed by Woodstock just two months later, the 1969 Denver Pop Festival lured a peak attendance of 50,000 people via acts like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Despite being blighted by gatecrashers and the ensuing riot tactics employed by Denver Police, it guaranteed its legacy by playing host to the final performance of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. –Brian Coney


32. Made in America (2013)

Date(s): August 31-September 1

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Headliners: Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, Public Enemy, QOTSA, Kendrick Lamar, and Solange

Beyoncé headlined Day One of Jay-Z’s Made in America festival in 2013, where Kendrick Lamar also performed good kid, m.a.a.d. city, Day Two headliner Nine Inch Nails previewed music from their 2013 album, Hesitation Marks, and Queens of the Stone Age played ...Like Clockwork at the second annual fest. –Karas Lamb


31. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (2013)

Date(s): April 26-May 5

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Headliners: Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson, The Black Keys, Patti Smith, B.B. King, and Frank Ocean

Jazz Fests lineups are always a unique medley spanning decades of music history, but none have seemed as poignant as 2013’s. The festival welcomed a Channel Orange cultural icon to close out in the presence of legends like B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, and Patti Smith. –John Flynn


30. Seattle Pop Festival (1969)

1969 Seattle Pop Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 25-28

Location: Seattle

Headliners: Chuck Berry, Tim Buckley, The Byrds, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Flying Burrito Bros., Ike and Tina Turner

Seattle Pop Festival was a one-time-only dream that only cost $15. Those who made the trek got to see iconic sets by Chuck Berry, Tim Buckley, The Byrds, Bo Diddley, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Ike & Tina Turner, Alice Cooper, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. If the lineup sounds too good to be true, just remember that there wasn't enough food and water available for the whopping 50,000 attendees who turned up. –Nina Corcoran


29. Coachella (2006)

Date(s): April 29-30

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Depeche Mode, Tool, Daft Punk, Madonna, and Massive Attack

The year that everyone talks about. The year that is ubiquitously heralded as just that: "The year." Looking past 2004's massive headlining duo in Depeche Mode and Tool, 2006's Daft Punk inclusion is widely regarded as one of the most exciting moments in festival history. Not to mention Madonna in the dance tent. I get shivers thinking about it. –John Flynn


28. Heatwave (1980)

Date(s): August 23

Location: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

Headliners: Talking Heads, Pretenders, B-52s, and Elvis Costello

Thanks to the Great American Festival Shortage of the 1980s, a ton of amazing new wave acts never really got a chance to shine on the summer stage. Despite its one-day schedule and relatively unknown undercard (sorry, Holly & the Italians fans), Toronto's Heatwave gave us a glimpse of what might've been. Also: the Remain in Light-era Talking Heads played their first live show together in the fest's sunset slot. Somebody get us a time machine. –Tyler Clark


27. Miami Pop Festival (1968)

Date(s): December 28-30

Location: Miami

Headliners: Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, and Grateful Dead

This three-day extravaganza offered up an impressive panorama of stars across genres. Considered the first US fest to feature multiple stages happening simultaneously, fans took in Jose Feliciano, Hugh Masekela, and Iron Butterfly leading up to the headliners — all for $7 per day. Rolling Stone loved the event, calling it "a monumental success in almost every aspect, the first significant — and truly festive — international pop festival held on the East Coast." –Scott T Sterling


26. Texas International Pop Festival (1969)

Date(s): August 30-September 1

Location: Lewisville, Texas

Headliners: BB King, Sam and Dave, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, and Santana

The locals protested. The Mayor expressed disdain. Yet, the Texas International Pop Festival is regarded as one of the most celebrated cultural events in the state’s history. Taking place Labor Day Weekend of 1969, the festival shook the southern suburb of Lewisville to life through an eclectic lineup that included Grand Funk Railroad, Sly & The Family Stone, and a then-emerging Led Zeppelin. The festival may have raised a little hell, but it created a lasting legacy by bringing titans of blues, rock, soul, and funk together in one festival. –Lindsay Teske


25. Bonnaroo (2007)

2007 Bonnaroo Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): June 14-17

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: The Police, Tool, The White Stripes, and Widespread Panic

Bonnaroo 2007 served as The Police's first festival date on their reunion tour before they would finally say farewell to the road the year after. Tom Morello joined Tool onstage for "Lateralus", while The White Stripes unleashed cuts from their brand-new Icky Thump. And, of course, the Superjam featured another impressive combination of Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Questlove, and Ben Harper, who tackled tracks like “Good Times Bad Times” and “Dazed and Confused”. –Killian Young


24. Schaefer Festival (1975)

Date(s): Various

Location: New York City

Headliners: Bob Marley, Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, Aerosmith, Journey

The second to last Schaefer Music Festival in New York City's Central Park was more of a slate of music programming than a music festival itself. Nothing in the festival's history was highlighted quite like the incredibly rare showing from Bob Marley and the Wailers. Busting through a 14-song set, Marley and company performed classics like "No Woman, No Cry" and "Get Up, Stand Up". Tickets to the showing were a mere two dollars, and it is reported that Bob Marley’s performance in 1975 gathered more than 15,000 people. –John Flynn


23. Coachella (2011)

Date(s): April 15-17

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Kings of Leon, Kanye West, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, and PJ Harvey

This was the first year Coachella became the festival we know today. Sold out in less than a week, this was one of only a handful of shows Kanye played surrounding the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, closing out the whole thing with cameos from Justin Vernon and Pusha-T. In just a three-hour period, that final day also packed in performances from The Strokes, The National, and PJ Harvey. –Steven Edelstone


22. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (1970)

Date(s): April 22-26

Location: New Orleans

Headliners: Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, The Meters, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Mahalia Jackson

Credit the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for never deviating too far from being, first and foremost, a celebration of the city's proud musical pedigree. Never was that more the case than in 1970. The inaugural festival loaded its then-modest lineup with provincial powerhouses like The Meters, Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Jazz Fest has boomed out of its backyard over the years, but its inaugural year offered unassailable proof that a homegrown fest can do big things. –Ryan Bray


21. Austin City Limits (2013)

Date(s): October 4-6, October 11-13

Location: Austin, Texas

Headliners: Depeche Mode, The Cure, Muse, Kings of Leon, and Atoms for Peace

For fans of pessimistic, if grandiose, English music, ACL 2013 was the place to be. The fest was so synth wave-heavy that Kendrick Lamar was the bill's only hip-hop act. Atoms for Peace (featuring Thom Yorke), The Cure, Muse, and Depeche Mode exemplified the early 2010s push towards "classic" Sad White Boy music, and boy, the goths represented. Dave Gahan is every bit a rock star powerhouse as he was in 1985; the limber Depeche Mode frontman spun his mic stand around like it was a ballroom dancing partner. Robert Smith was as sad as ever. Festival attendees, it turned out, would also have another reason to cry: heavy rains and floods caused ACL to cancel its last full day of performances. –Meagan Fredette


20. Harlem Cultural Festival (1969)

1969 Harlem Cultural Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): Various

Location: Harlem, New York City

Headliners: The Fifth Dimension, Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Nina Simone

Spread across six Sunday afternoons in the summer of 1969, the free programming held in Mt. Morris Park came to be known as "Black Woodstock" for both its prodigious collection of talent and the counterculture energy of its performers. Perhaps the festival's most memorable moment came during Nina Simone's appearance on August 17, in which the singer used her performance of "Revolution" as a fiery call for black liberation and political ascendancy. –Tyler Clark


19. Lollapalooza (2008)

Date(s): August 1-3

Location: Chicago

Headliners: Radiohead, Kanye West, Rage, NIN, and Wilco

In Chicago, the summers are scorching, and fans smooshed into sweaty masses to catch Radiohead, who'd just released In Rainbows that previous year. Their lighting production was nothing short of extraordinary; it was a dazzling display of dangling neon tubes, massive projections, and yes, a soul-enveloping rainbow. Fireworks from nearby Navy Pier crested Chicago's skyline while Thom Yorke sang "Fake Plastic Trees" with an acoustic guitar. Still, many attendees were anxiously awaiting Kanye West's performance to close the festival; he'd just been booed offstage at Bonnaroo that June. Luckily, Ye treated his native Chicago to a memorable homecoming show, ferocious strobe lights and all. –Meagan Fredette


18. San Francisco Kool Jazz Festival (1976)

Date(s): June 11-12

Location: San Francisco

Headliners: Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Staple Singers, Smokey Robinson, and B.B. King

The Bay Area was rocking when this powerhouse lineup descended on the Oakland Coliseum, which itself was still recovering from a pair of shows featuring the Grateful Dead and The Who. The vibe was decidedly different when this two-day event rolled out legends from the worlds of jazz and R&B. The undercard boasting the likes of Archie Bell, Donald Byrd, and Hampton Hawes gave fans a reason to show up early. –Scott T Sterling


17. Coachella (2007)

Date(s): April 27-29

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Björk, Rage Against the Machine, "The" Arcade Fire, Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys, Jesus and Mary Chain, Amy Winehouse, and Willie Nelson

2007 was a year of bombast in indie music: the bigger, the more bass trajectory-driven, the better. But Coachella, which became a three-day fest that year, took an opposite approach by stacking its lineup with deliriously sublime acts like Björk and Amy Winehouse. That year was Winehouse's must successful; and her gravel-voiced Coachella set is lauded as one of her best. Another UK legend, The Jesus and Mary Chain, played their reunion show at Coachella 2007; they were joined by, in true California fashion, Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson for "Just Like Honey". –Meagan Fredette


16. Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival (1967)

Date(s): June 10-11

Location: Marin County, Calif.

Headliners: The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, Captain Beefheart, and Tim Buckley

Regarded as the catalyzing event of the Summer of Love, Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival curated a lineup of artists whose sound was as kaleidoscopic as its atmosphere. Sunshine pop and psychedelic rock were well-represented in the uber-‘60s lineup that included The Seeds, The Chocolate Watchband, and Every Mother’s Son -- not to mention The Doors and The Byrds at the precipice of explosion. It was the ultimate soundtrack for the hippie-attended, mountain-top festival. –Lindsay Teske


15. Desert Trip (2016)

2016 Desert Trip Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): October 7-9, 14-16

Location: Indio, California

Headliners: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and The Who

Considering how heavily festival culture skews toward younger crowds, Desert Trip seemed like a curious square peg on its face. But credit Coachella organizers Goldenvoice for welcoming classic rock fans to the party. The three-day festival featuring Neil Young, The Who, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, The Stones, and Bob Dylan proved there was broader life beyond the otherwise rather narrow festival market. –Ryan Bray


14. Tibetan Freedom Concert (1998)

Date(s): June 13-14

Location: Washington, D.C.

Headliners: Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Herbie Hancock, A Tribe Called Quest, Sonic Youth, Dave Matthews Band, and R.E.M.

When Kraftwerk only shows up halfway down your lineup poster, you know you've got a pretty stacked lineup on your hands. Such was the case at the third edition of the Beastie Boys' benefit festival. In addition to non-headlining appearances by KRS-1, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other huge names, the fest also featured a rare American festival appearance of OK Computer-era Radiohead, so we're contractually obligated to include it. –Tyler Clark


13. Coachella (2008)

Date(s): April 25-27

Location: Indio, California

Headliners: Prince, Roger Waters, Jack Johnson, Portishead, Kraftwerk, and Aphex Twin

Ask any seasoned Coachella-goer what the best performance in the festival’s history was and –with the new exception of Beyoncé this year – most would point towards Prince’s legendary 2008 set, accentuated by his mind-melting cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”. Elsewhere, Roger Waters performed Dark Side of the Moon in full (becoming the first major classic rock legacy act to headline), Kraftwerk played a rare American set, and both The Verve and Rilo Kiley performed for one of the last times ever on an American stage. –Steven Edelstone


12. Outside Lands (2012)

Date(s): August 10-12

Location: San Francisco

Headliners: Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Jack White, and Beck

You wouldn’t normally expect to see Stevie Wonder at a festival, but here he was, joining a stacked cast of headliners that somehow didn't include Foo Fighters, Beck, and Jack White on the top-most lines, the latter of whom played a secret acoustic set in the middle of Golden Gate Park with Tom Morello. Tame Impala played an extremely early afternoon set just two months before the release of Lonerism, while a then-virtually unknown Eric Andre held down the comedy stage. –Steven Edelstone


11. US Festival (1982)

Date(s): September 3-5

Location: San Bernardino, Calif.

Headliners: Talking Heads, The Police, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, and Grateful Dead

Apple's Steve Wozniak was sick of the selfish me-firstism of the 1970s, so he set out to spark the community spirit of the 1980s in the way we love best: with a gargantuan music festival. Held over Labor Day weekend in San Bernardino, the inaugural US Festival was a rarity in an '80s music landscape mostly devoid of big-time festivals. So was its stacked lineup, which also included Ramones, Santana, The Kinks, and Jimmy Buffet. –Tyler Clark

10. Coachella (2012)

2012 Coachella Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): April 13-15, 20-22

Location: Indio, Calif.

Headliners: Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, The Black Keys, and Radiohead

Forever remembered as the Tupac hologram year, this lineup offered so much more – including a Radiohead/Bon Iver/The Shins/Noel Gallagher mainstage run on Saturday. Elsewhere, this edition of the Indio fest featured a Jeff Mangum sunset performance, Girls’ last-ever American show, Pulp and Mazzy Star reunions, and star-building undercard sets from Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Childish Gambino, and The Weeknd. –Steven Edelstone


9. Astrodome Jazz Festival (1973)

Astrdome 1973 Jazz Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 13-14

Location: Houston

Headliners: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Bobby Womack

A gathering of black music elite, most at the peak of their powers. Stevie Wonder was just days away from dropping Innervisions, Aretha Franklin had just teamed up with Quincy Jones for Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), and Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” ruled radio. With jazz giants like Ella Fitzgerald, Mingus, and Rashaan Roland Kirk on hand, Houston was the place to be on this summer weekend in 1973. –Scott T Sterling


8. Bonnaroo (2009)

2009 Bonnaroo Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): June 11-14

Location: Manchester, Tenn.

Headliners: Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, and Elvis Costello

2009 was truly peak Bonnaroo, and each subsequent lineup must be judged against it. Even if it hadn't been Beastie Boys' final show and Springsteen's Super Bowl encore, the undercard would sustain its greatness. Every act on the top four lines could headline a stage today, and then you have Animal Collective, St. Vincent, Raphael Saadiq, Grizzly Bear, Lucinda Williams... It's the perfect balance later years only dreamt of, and a level of exhaustive flawlessness few festivals in North America have matched since. –Ben Kaye


7. Lollapalooza (1992)

1992 Lollapalooze Festival Lineup Poster

Date(s): Various

Location: Touring

Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pearl Jam, and Lush

Lollapooza will never top this lineup. It was a billing that brought out the best in disaffected shoegaze, nihilistic goth sounds, classic hip-hop, and pure rock star antics. (When else in history could Lush sneak into Ice Cube's trailer and write him a message on his mirror in red lipstick?) Grunge was just a twinkle in the eyes of flannel-wearing American youth, and England was still seen as the exporter of world's finest rock music. The Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, and — if you can believe it — Nirvana each played on Lollapalooza's side stage. All three acts, of course, would come to dominate rock music for years to come. Any self-respecting, grizzled indie rocker will never let anyone forget their attendance at this fest. –Meagan Fredette


6. Newport Jazz Festival (1958)

1958 Newport Jazz Fest Lineup Poster

Date(s): July 3-6

Location: Newport, R.I.

Headliners: Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, and Louis Armstrong

The Newport Jazz Festival's incredible run of '50s booking continued with the 1958 edition, which found organizers branching out to include its first rock performer: Chuck Berry. It was a controversial move, as founder George Wein recalled in his 2003 memoir: "When he went into his duckwalk during ‘School Days,’ I literally cringed. I could almost feel the knives that the critics were going to hurl in our direction. Needless to say, the crowd loved it." –Tyler Clark


5. US Festival (1983)

1983 US Festival Lineup Poster

Date: May 28-June 4

Location: San Bernardino, Calif.

Headliners: The Clash, Van Halen, David Bowie, and Willie Nelson

It's incredibly hard ... no, impossible, to believe that the only band that matters once shared a festival bill with the only man that matters. The unlikely clash of glam rock's alien figurehead and post punk's most influential grouping seems unlikely, even impossible. But there you have it. Just like the moon landing, it happened. Not only did it happen, but it happened with Willie Nelson and Van Halen in tow, with the latter earning a Guinness Book of Records-shattering 1.5 million dollars for their performance at the height of their commercial success as a group. –John Flynn


4. Coachella (2004)

2004 Coachella Festival Lineup Poster

Date: May 1-2

Location: Indio, California

Headliners: Radiohead, The Cure, Kraftwerk, AIR, and Pixies

Coachella nabbed Radiohead for their only US show of 2004, and Thom Yorke and co. rewarded the Indio crowd with a set that led off with then-recent Hail to the Thief cuts like “2 + 2 = 5” and “There There” while also featuring “Karma Police”, “Paranoid Android”, and, yes, even “Creep”. Pixies also reunited for their first festival date in over a decade while The Cure debuted three songs live for the first time. The small-font part of the lineup also showcased future headliners, including The Killers, The Black Keys, and LCD Soundsystem. –Killian Young


3. Newport Folk Festival (1965)

1965 Newport Folk Festival Lineup Poster

Date: July 22-25

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

Headliners: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Donovan, Son House, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, and Johnny Cash

Each one of the Newport Folk Fests from the '60s has its legends, but none are as defining as '65. Dylan being on the lineup was just a continuation of his rise since Joan Baez had introduced him two years prior, but the chords he played that Sunday evening resonated for decades. And in the same weekend, Baez introduced the US to Donovan. This lineup is not just retrospectively impressive; it's eternally significant. –Ben Kaye


2. Woodstock (1969)

1969 Woodstock Festival Lineup Poster

Date: August 15-17

Location: Bethel, White Lake, New York

Headliners: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Who, and Santana

Woodstock was a revolution for a reason. Looking back, it's hard not to idolize the lineup — Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, Ravi Shankar, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — knowing what we know now. Joe Cocker gave a legendary performance of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends". The seven-minute version of "My Generation" during daybreak. Hendrix's pyrotechnic rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner". The three-day festival spilled into four days. Yet, before any of that happened, the lineup itself was already revolutionary, causing 400,000 people to trek to the middle of nowhere to see it. –Nina Corcoran


1. Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967)

1967 Monterey Pop Festival

Date: June 16-18

Location: Monterey, California

Headliners: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Simon & Garfunkel

Woodstock will always occupy a uniquely mythological place in the pantheon of American musical festivals, but the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival remains a luminous snapshot of a countercultural epoch beyond compare. Though big-hitters including Dylan and The Beatles were noticeably absent, the three-day festival excelled in its aim of elevating rock to the same prestige as jazz and folk, all while introducing American audiences to future luminaries like Hendrix, Joplin, Shankar, Redding, and The Who. Consider it the coming-out party not only for these storied legends but also for the rock and roll festival as we know it. –Brian Coney

Thank you to our friends on the writing staff at Consequence of Sound for researching and compiling this list.

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