The best US music festivals of 2017: from Brooklyn to Seattle

Afropunk, EDM and indie rock get their moments in the sun as events like Pitchfork, Outside Lands, and Clusterfest perfect the art of the lineup

Surprise appearances, exotic locations, brazen gimmickry: in 2017, it seems as though music festivals are often more concerned with hype and aesthetic than the actual music. Thankfully, a handful of festivals across the US still understand that a lineup isnt just a list of names, its a cultural statement, a balancing act of competing elements that, once perfected, can define a moment or an era. A good lineup draws the right crowd, for that right vibe, for those truly transcendent festival moments but it is no easy feat. Here is our selection of the events that got it right this year.

Colossal Clusterfest, San Francisco

Jerry Seinfeld. Photograph: Christopher Lane

Comedy Central is moving outside of the TV world to put on a comedy festival with a difference. Colossal Clusterfest in San Francisco could become the Coachella of comedy. Headlined by Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart and Bill Burr, the three-day summit offers more than just laughs. This years music lineup features Ice Cube, Tegan and Sara, and the Bay Area weirdo-provocateur Les Claypools Bastard Jazz. The undercard isnt shabby either: from 2 Dope Queens to Hasan Minhaj, Tig Notaro and the charmingly named Alaska Thunderfuck, individuals of every ethnicity, gender and lifestyle have an equal opportunity to get on stage and make fools of themselves.

Civic Center Plaza and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 2-4 June,

Northside festival, New York

Brooklyns Northside festival fancies itself something of an updated SXSW, a borough-spanning circuit of panels and parties that favor the cutting edge of tech, entrepreneurship and music. Northside speakers include the Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, while networking events and tech workshops should keep aspirant thought leaders busy at least until the parties get started. The musical programming at Northside is equally eclectic: Dirty Projectors, Miguel and Kamasi Washington top an expansive bill of 400 acts that will fill up 12 Brooklyn clubs for five nights running.

Various venues, Brooklyn, 7-11 June,

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Electric Daisy Carnival. Photograph: C Flanigan/FilmMagic

Electric Daisy Carnival is the mother of all EDM events. More than 130,000 neon-clad dance music diehards will pour into the Las Vegas Speedway in the Mojave desert this June to see one of the most expansive lineups in the world of dance music. With more than 200 DJs including Diplo, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Kygo EDC Vegas isnt so much about expert curation as a catch-all approach combining EDM, trance, techno, drum and bass, trap and hardstyle and bringing them together into one surreal, chaotic, unparalleled bacchanal. As far as spectacles go, there is nothing else in the US quite like it.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, 16-18 June,

Mamby on the Beach, Chicago

This festivals third outing strikes a sweet spot between commercial and indie in an intimate setting on Oakwood Beach, which overlooks the citys skyline. Over two days and nights, indie acts including MGMT, Miike Snow and Walk the Moon are juxtaposed with more cerebral iconoclasts such as Flying Lotus and Todd Terje and the Olsens. The citys own house sound is represented by hometown hero Green Velvet, as well as Justin Martin, Tchami and the Magician, who all play in the Mixmag tent. Mamby brings together a diverse crowd to frolic in the sand with beach volleyball, fire spinners and live art, before unleashing the crowd back into the Chicago night for club nights and afterparties at the evenings close.

Oakwood Beach, Chicago, 24-25 June,

Pitchfork music festival, Chicago

PJ Harvey. Photograph: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Pitchfork has been a dominant force in the hipster taste for so long that youd be forgiven for taking its yearly festival lineups for granted. This year is up to the usual high standards: LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest, PJ Harvey, Solange and Thurston Moore head up a selection of acts that all share a timeless quality alongside a twinge of nostalgia for headier, pre-millennial days. The tightly wound undercard is a mishmash of underground underdogs from the house head Derrick Carter to the genre-sampling boom bap of Madlib and the power pop of The Feelies. Elsewhere, provocateurs such as Arca and Madame Gandhi will push the boundaries of alt-pop.

Union Park, Chicago, 14-16 July,

Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle

If your version of indie is more H&M than thrift store, Seattles Capitol Hill Block Party brings all the cool points of a Pitchfork Danny Brown, Thundercat and Mykki Blanco, for example with a major dose of party vibes. Diplos headline set will unleash bombastic bass and tawdry themes upon Seattles city center, while Run the Jewels, Jai Wolf and Angel Olsen will ensure that the energy stays uptempo. The indie acts Wolf Parade, Lord Huron and Cherry Glazerr promise that the great rock city of Seattle gets its share of guitar riffage.

Various locations, downtown Seattle, 21-23 July,

Outside Lands, San Francisco

One of the largest independent music festivals in the country, Outside Lands brings blockbuster headliners Metallica, The Who, Lorde, Queens of the Stone Age to the verdant inclines of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for its 10th edition. The park itself is so lush it could warrant headliner status itself, but with indie favorites such as Fleet Foxes, Alt-J and Future Islands supporting on stage, sun-kissed Bay Area day trippers will be spoiled for choice. A Taste of the Bay gourmet food program offers doughnut cheeseburgers, sushi burritos and a whole forest made of chocolate named Choco Land.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 11-13 August,

FYF Fest, Los Angeles

Missy Elliott. Photograph: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Pound for pound, FYF Fest has put up some of the best lineups in the US over the past few years, and 2017s edition features a particularly well-balanced event. Missy Elliott, Bjork, Frank Ocean and Nine Inch Nails headline, with Erykah Badu, Iggy Pop, Anderson .Paak and Flying Lotus supporting. FYF somehow manages to weave a thread through the multifarious underground scenes of Los Angeles, while cherry-picking big headliners that appeal to the repressed music critic in all FYF attendees. Time your day right, and you can go from seminal shoegaze (Slowdive) to disco (Horse Meat Disco) to psych (Temples) to Afrobeat (Seun Kuti & Egypt 80) without skipping a beat.

Exposition Park, Los Angeles, 21-23 July,

Afropunk, New York

The globe-trotting Afropunk festival touches down in its original Brooklyn home at the sweltering end of the summer, preceded by events in Paris and London and followed by more music in Atlanta and Johannesburg before the end of the year. The series, now a cultural cornerstone of the intersectional black experience, brings together artists from across the musical spectrum. New heroes like Kaytranada, Sampha, Willow Smith and SZA sit alongside familiar names like Dizzee Rascal, Macy Gray, and Gary Clark Jr in a lineup that challenges the idea of what black music is in 2017. With art installations and clothing markets, Afropunk offers a wholly novel and worthwhile perspective on the cultural role of a festival.

Commodore Barry park, Brooklyn, 26-27 August,

Oregon Eclipse, Ochoco National Forest

Oregon Eclipse, in the Ochoco national forest of the Pacific north-west, bills itself as a once-in-a-lifetime summit of alternative lifestyles and festival promotion outfits from around the world, all brought together under a full solar eclipse expected to take place during the festival. The lineup features the biggest names in the hippie fest circuit: Bassnectar, STS9, Shpongle and the String Cheese Incident. But theres also a healthy dollop of tech-house from the likes of Justin Martin, Max Cooper and Oliver Koletzki, and just to a ensure the vibes are as weird as possible, the festival also acts as a major meet-up for the psytrance community.

Big Summit prairie, Ochoco national forest, 17-23 August,

Read more: