Lasers Music Festival Set

Festival season is officially upon us. As Coachella has likely been filling up your Instagram feed for the past two weeks, it’s always a nice reminder that the festi scene is booming in the United States. There’s no denying that the giant crowds, high costs, and widely diverse music selections of Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza can get extremely overwhelming. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible to catch ALL the musical acts you want to see at the bigger fests.

If you want a weekend in the summer to groove out to funky jam music, there are plenty of music festivals in 2018 to get your fix – most of which won’t break your bank account.

Here are three to consider.

1. Summer Camp

Summer Camp Lineup


Summer Camp Music Festival, based in Chillicothe, Illinois, is at an interesting point in its 17-year existence. While it has always been clear that the organizers want it to remain a low-key event with a jam-focused crowd, the perception seems to be teetering on the middle ground between a small-to-medium size festival and a big, mainstream one. Year-after-year, they are able to lock down bigger acts and draw more diverse crowds. In recent years, Summer Camp has brought in household names from the jam and EDM scene including the likes of Trey Anastasio, Steve Miller, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and more. Each year, patrons are treated to three days of Umphrey’s McGee and Moe.

Perhaps the best part about Summer Camp is you don’t camp with your cars. This means there is no distinct separation between the camping areas and the actual festival grounds. You only go through security at the very beginning and don’t have to conceal alcohol or anything else from security when you go from your campground to a show. Basically, once you’re inside, freedom reigns. Furthermore, because the festival isn’t congested with parked cars, you are never more than a 10-minute walk from any stage. Its host, Three Sisters Park, seems to have been created for a music festival.

Summer Camp is being held this year from May 25th – 27th. If you get the pre-party pass, it starts on May 24th. The VIP upgrade is affordable and highly recommended for this one. This allows you to bring alcohol into the festival at the beginning, gets you a ticket to the Thursday night pre-party, access to showers, nicer bathrooms, a number of shows at the VIP tent, and a show in the famous Red Barn. If you like festivals that are small, but not too small, Summer Camp is the fest for you.

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2. High Sierra

High Sierra Lineup


It’s no secret that music festivals have grown like crazy in the past couple decades. As a result, many have become highly commercialized events with all sorts of brand messaging to throw off the vibe. High Sierra Music Festival, in Quincy, California, is one of the few that does its best to resist the corporate takeover.

As a veteran camping music festival in California that dates back to 1991, the tight-knit community feel of High Sierra is felt by everyone involved; the organizers, staff, and patrons. The size of this festival is very manageable and unintimidating. While the scramble to get a good camping spot can be a bit hectic (like any other music festival) you are never too far from any stage.

High Sierra frequently welcomes bands like The String Cheese Incident, Lotus, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, and more. When it comes to jam music, High Sierra is one of the best festivals on the west side of the Mississippi.

The VIP passes get a little pricey. At the basic level, this pass gets you early entrance to get a good campground, access to a number of exclusive areas to see the stages, late shows, drink tickets, and a handful of festival memorabilia.

This 4-day festival normally takes place around July 4th weekend. This year, the dates are July 5th– 8th.  While you will definitely get some hot summer days, the nights exemplify the perfect Northern California weather.

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3. LOCKN’ Music Festival

LOCKN' Lineup


Formerly known as Interlocken, LOCKN’ is one of the newer camping music festivals on the scene. However, just because it’s a newer fest doesn’t mean it holds any punches in getting a great lineup and putting on a weekend for the ages.

While it doesn’t typically have a huge number of artists on the sheet, the festival has created a reputation for bringing in huge names. In its short existence, LOCKN’ has hosted jam legends like Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, The Allman Brothers, Phish, Widespread Panic, and many, many more.

Hosted at Infinity Downs & Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Virginia, LOCKN’ is a 4-day camping festival that usually takes place in late August. In addition to the heavy-hitter musicians, LOCKN’ is known for keeping the camping areas in good shape throughout the festival. The staff also does a great job in cleaning the porta-toilets on a daily basis – everyone knows how bad those can get towards the end of a fest…

This year, LOCKN’ is showcasing 4 sets of Dead and Company! This alone makes it a must-attend music festival in 2018. The fest also welcomes Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, and a number of the other usual suspects of the jam scene.

Going VIP will cost you a pretty penny. But the upgrades will enable you to live like a king (or queen). This includes hassle-free admission, air-conditioned bathrooms, access to the VIP lounge, Sunday brunch, merch, and more.

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What Are You Waiting For?!?

Whether you missed Coachella, or want your summer music festival to be a bit more jam niche, these three fests should definitely be on your radar. Perhaps the best thing about these three is they always bring in a good mix of veteran jam bands and new names on the scene.

Now, these are certainly not the only jam music festivals taking place this summer. If there is another one you feel should be mentioned, please fill us in in the comments!