7 Bay Area Music Festivals To Look Forward to this Summer
Even though Mark Twain allegedly said the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco, the Bay Area is pretty hot when it comes to music festival season. From the iconic, long-time multi-day affairs to the new offerings serving up something a little different, there’s pretty much something for everyone taking place in all corners of the Bay. Take a look at the music festivals in the Bay Area that KALW is looking forward to this summer.
Mill Valley Music Festival
Produced by the Mill Valley Chamber and Noise Pop Industries, the Mill Valley Music Festival brings together a heady mix of local and national acts on May 13 - 14, 2023 at Friends Field in Marin County. The arts and culture fest takes place below the slopes of Mount Tam, and features the likes of CAKE, Michael Franti & Spearhead, NPR Tiny Desk Contest winners Tank and the Bangas, and local favorites Orchestra Gold. Festival goers can also enjoy delicious eats from Mill Valley restaurants, plus a market featuring local artisans and artists. Be sure to check out the Sweetwater Stage for up-and-coming musicians.
BottleRock Napa Valley
You can obviously expect good food and wine at the BottleRock Festival, which takes place at the Napa Valley Expo from May 26-28, 2023, but the festival also features a veritable feast of treats for the ears. From Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lil Nas X to Duran Duran and Lizzo, the three-day affair brings together some of the biggest names in music as well as under-discovered acts that will soon become your favorites. The culinary stage is a draw all on its own, with presentations from celebrity chefs, and there’s always all the art, beer and wine, and the official aftershows if you can’t get enough.
Re:SET Concert Series
The brand-new Re:SET Concert Series bills itself as a music festival with a twist, offering an experience that allows fans to see all the performers on the lineup instead of having to choose between a few different stages. The headliners BoyGenius, Steve Lacey, and LCD Soundsystem each chose the performers on the bill with them each day, giving a curated experience featuring acts like Jamie XX, Toro y Moy, James Blake, and Bartees Strange. The inaugural concert series takes place at the Frost Amphitheatre in Stanford June 2 – 4, 2023.
The first thing you need to know about the Mosswood Meltdown is that it’s hosted by John Waters, who describes the festival as “a July 4th musical pyrotechnic display that explodes all on its own with slamming human cherry bombs, moshing punk-rock roman candles, and scary screaming sparklers of every race and gender.” The next is that it takes place July 1-2, 2023 in Mosswood Park in Oakland and features acts like Le Tigre, ESG, The Rondelles, and more. Plus, of course, great food vendors and a beer garden for when you need to take a break from moshing.
Blue Note Jazz Festival
Napa’s other summer music festival offering is the Blue Note Jazz Festival, taking place this year from July 28 – 30 at the Silverado Resort. The three-day event aims to present an intimate feeling affair while offering up some of the biggest names in modern music. Curated by musician Robert Glasper and hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle, this year’s festival celebrates 50 years of hip-hop music and the influence that jazz has had on the genre. Headliners include the iconic De La Soul, Change the Rapper, Nas, and Mary J Blige, plus a few surprise guests.
Outside Lands is probably the quintessential San Francisco summer festival, drawing crowds from near and far to experience one of the biggest culture events on the calendar. Taking place each year in Golden Gate Park and spanning three days of music, food, and cannabis, this year’s event is headlined by Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey, and Kendrick Lamar. As always, you can also expect some top-notch indie acts, like Poolside, Yaya Bey, Crumb, and Orion Sun, to round out the eclectic lineup. Outside Lands 2023 takes place from August 11 – 13.
Stern Grove Festival
If paying for a multi-day festival is not your thing, there’s always the spectacularly summery Stern Grove Festival, the admission-free series taking place on Sundays from June to August at the beautiful Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove in San Francisco. This year's festival kicks off Sunday, June 18 with Snarky Puppy, and as always, the lineup includes a good mix of performers, like Indigo Girls, Santigold, Buddy Guy, and the SF Symphony. KALW’s own DJ LadyRyan will be opening on the 16th, 18th, and 25th, bringing just the right vibes for dancing under the eucalyptus trees.