Shows on the road: 17 driveable music festivals


In the Midwest, distances are conquerable. If it's less than 500 miles away, it's an easy commute for the corn-fed and fun-seeking denizens of the flyover states. So that means scores of music festivals fall within the realm of possibility this summer.

Wisconsin? Yawn. Iowa? An easy afternoon. Even Nebraska is a sprightly jaunt when the weather is fair and there's a revolving stage of music and trucks full of beer waiting. With that in mind, we've collected all the music festivals that are a reasonable distance from the Twin Cities — keeping in mind that "reasonable" is a relative term in these parts.

Do Division Street

June 3-5, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup: Doomtree, A Place to Bury Strangers, Beach Fossils,  BADBADNOTGOOD, J-Rocc, Fruit Bats, Nikki Lane, ShowYouSuck

Tickets: Free

Worth it?: If you can get vacation days in time, yes. This year's Do Division is the largest in the street festival's 10-year history, and it's easily the best festival that's named after a Thursday song. Plus, it might be nice to get to know a neighboring city's local talent — while also seeing hometown favorites Doomtree against a new skyline.


June 29-July 10, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Drive: 5 hours

Lineup: Paul McCartney, Luke Bryan, Sting, Weezer, Pitbull, Selena Gomez, Hollywood Vampires, Blake Shelton, Death Cab for Cutie, Kacey Musgraves, Blink-182

Tickets: $20 for a single day; $90 for an 11-day pass

Worth it?: Where else can you see basically every living British music legend (sans Elton John) in one place? Summerfest is a bout of insanity that Milwaukee has every year, and this year, they pull no punches. Good luck scoring an AirBnB over that 11-day stretch, but if you've got a crash pad lined up, you can't get a better value. 


July 8-9, Des Moines, Iowa

Drive: 3.5 hours

Lineup: Nas, the Decemberists, Wolf Parade, Black Lips, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Lizzo, Craig Finn

Tickets: $45 for a single day; $80 for a weekend pass; VIP sold out

Worth it?: Recently reunited Sub Pop luminaries Wolf Parade haven't announced a date in Minnesota yet, so if you're a junkie for off-kilter, mid-aughts college indie, then you have to go to Iowa to catch the rekindled magic. For the ticket price, seeing Nas and a couple highest-tier Minnesota artists is well worth it. Comparatively, $45 is like a T-shirt at Fifth Element.

Moondance Jammin Country Fest

June 17-19, Walker, Minnesota

Drive: 3 hours

Lineup: Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Travis Tritt, Randy Houser, Chris Janson, Neal McCoy, Chris Hawkey, 32 Below

Tickets: $120 for a single day; $170 for a two-day pass; $475 VIP

Worth it?: If you feel like driving a while and never leaving the Gopher State. Moondance caters to the rootinest-tootinest of festivalgoers, to the point where the lineup is really just a soundtrack to endless Coors Light consumption. If you prefer alligator boots to flower crowns this festival season, Moondance is your ticket (though Country Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin, is closer and has a stronger lineup).

Rock the Garden

June 18, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Drive: Take a boat! It's in the middle of the river in the middle of Minneapolis

Lineup: Chance the Rapper, the Flaming Lips, M. Ward, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Polica, Hippo Campus, GRRRL PRRTY

Tickets: $65; VIP sold out

Worth it?: The novelty of being on Boom Island while the Walker's sculpture garden is being renovated makes 2016's RTG unique, but other than that, the Current's annual showcase is underwhelming. Chance the Rapper is a really amazing and unprecedented act to land, but everyone else — especially the cast of locals you can see at the Fine Line or Turf Club whenever you want — wouldn't be exciting if the Current didn't stamp their immutable seal of approval on them. 

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 15-17, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup: Brian Wilson, Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, Carly Rae Jepsen, Broken Social Scene, FKA twigs, Shamir

Tickets: $65 for a single day; $165 for a three-day pass

Worth it?: Like a Best New Music designation come to life with a Best Music Ever candidate (Brian Wilson is performing Pet Sounds in full) mixed in, 2016's P4K Fest is again the best show in the Second City. Judging by Sufjan Stevens' theatrics at Boston Calling this past weekend, the Windy City native is in classic form this festival season. Can you afford to miss his wings and reflector suits this summer?

515 Alive

July 22-23, Des Moines, Iowa

Drive: 3.5 hours

Lineup: A$AP Ferg, Bear Grillz, Destructo, Hippie Sabotage, Zeds Dead, Machine Gun Kelly

Tickets: $59; $89.50 VIP

Worth it?: Untz. Untz. Untz. Untz. If that's the sound of you having a good time, then 515 Alive has plenty for you. Be wary of the VIP, though. A measly $30 upcharge for all-access is pretty goddamn suspicious. Chances are it's not much of an upgrade.

Warped Tour

July 24, Shakopee, Minnesota

Drive: 30 minutes

Lineup: Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, Reel Big Fish, Sum 41, Yellowcard, and, naturally, Prof and Waka Flocka Flame

Tickets: $38

Worth it?: The Emo Revival is over. Is the pop-punk revival imminent? If Warped Tour's 2016 roster is a harbinger of anything, it's that we'll soon be overtaken by eyeliner and pogo dancing. Nostalgia can't be killed, and neither can your unwitting enthusiasm for it. Your meager $38 gets you early-re-adopter status at Canterbury this summer. 


July 28-31, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey, Future, Disclosure, Haim, The 1975

Tickets: General admission sold out; $650-$2,200 VIP

Worth it?: The festival that made Chicago the ultimate music fest destination in the Midwest delivers with yet another absurd lineup. Spanning genres and generations, Lolla '16 is equal parts retrospective and future showcase. You just need to decide if the notoriously hellish crowds and the lack of GA tickets are worth the two tanks of gas it takes to get there.

WE Fest

August 4-6, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Drive: 3 hours

Lineup: Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Montgomery Gentry, Steven Tyler with the Loving Mary Band, Billy Currington, Kid Rock (yup)

Tickets: $90 for a single day; $179 for a three-day pass

Worth it?: If you ever felt like Detroit Lakes didn't feel Detroit-y enough, rap-doofus-cum-country-rock-doofus Kid Rock will remedy that at Minnesota's Biggest Party. Eric Church alone is worth the $90 admission, but there isn't much of a supporting cast to redeem WE Fest.

Hinterland Festival

August 5-6, Des Moines, Iowa

Drive: 3.5 hours

Lineup: Willie Nelson, San Fermin, Ray LaMontagne, Cold War Kids, Grace Potter, Lake Street Drive, Pokey LaFarge

Tickets: $55 for a single day; $95 for a two-day pass; $259-$599 VIP

Worth it?: As far as the "slow" music festivals go, Hinterland has the roundest lineup. It's a fit place to ramble if you've heard the call for the open road.

Eaux Claires

August 12-13, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Drive: 1.5 hours

Lineup: James Blake, Beach House, Lucius, Vince Staples, Deafheaven, Jenny Lewis, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Erykah Badu, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Har Mar Superstar, Fog 

Tickets: $169; VIP sold out

Worth it?: Justin Vernon's destination festival by the Dells is a big step down from last year's inaugural go-round, but Eaux Claires isn't up against Pitchfork Fest this year. The positive side is that it's become less of a Bonny Bear & Friends group hug and more of a rounded extravaganza. Rap and metal acts crowding the bill is a welcomed turn.

Summer Set

August 12-14, Somerset, Wisconsin

Drive: 45 Minutes

Lineup: Skrillex, Bassnectar, Chance the Rapper, Steve Aoki, Grimes, Fetty Wap, Flux Pavillion, St. Lucia, Flatbush Zombies

Tickets: $194.50-$400; $495.00 VIP

Worth it?: Best festival in the Midwest.

Maha Music Festival

August 20, Omaha, Nebraska

Drive: 5.5 hours

Lineup: Grimes, Passion Pit, Vince Staples, the Joy Formidable, Diarrhea Planet, Diet Cig

Tickets: $55; $185 VIP

Worth it?: If you like lookin' at corn for a while, sure. Maha's strength is in its undercard — both Diarrhea Planet and Diet Cig put on a raucous live show, especially when you're dancing in the dust of the heartland — though headliners Grimes and Passion Pit are an exuberant pairing for a single-day fest.


September 9-11, Kansas City, Missouri

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup: Gramatik, RL Grime, Lektrik, Adventure Club, Bear Grillz

Tickets: $159; $259 VIP

Worth it?: As far as EDM fests go, Dancefestopia is pretty low-level. Without the star power, though, you can focus on just listing from set to set and enjoying the vibes. 

Riot Fest

September 16-18, Chicago, Illinois

Drive: 6.5 hours

Lineup: The Misfits, Morrissey, Nas, Deftones, Rob Zombie, the Hold Steady, NOFX, Brand New, Thursday, Ween


Worth it?: Basically every band you ever loved is reuniting for Riot Fest, including the apparently cash-strapped Misfits. It's honestly incredible how many rekindled love stories will be hitting the stage in Douglas Park. On top of that, it'll be the last time you can see Motion City Soundtrack together until they get back together for the 2026 edition of Riot Fest. You should reunite with some old college dorm mates and head out.

Festival Palomino

September 17, Shakopee, Minnesota

Drive: 30 minutes

Lineup: Trampled by Turtles (of course), the Arcs, Andrew Bird, Frightened Rabbit, Cactus Blossoms

Tickets: $48; $147 VIP

Worth it?: God no. Palomino is on the opposite trajectory as Soundset — every year, it somehow gets worse, and 2016 is a facepalm.