Over the last few decades, festival culture has both exploded and grown stale. Beginning in the spring and running through summer into fall, there are dozens of gatherings across the country that at one point felt unique, but have largely congealed into one aesthetic formulation repeated ad nauseam.
These events — name brands with global draw like Coachella and Bonnaroo, and smaller gatherings like Governors Ball and the Pitchfork Music Festival — give some space to hip-hop, but not enough given how foundational it is to the current pop music ecosystem.
In the fall, that all changes. A rare worthwhile tributary of the modern festival explosion has been the emergence and growth of multiday hip-hop festivals, events that show the genre’s depth and cater to rabid legions of fans around the country.
Some have been started by performers with intense followings who have built events in their own image, like Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival. Others, like Rolling Loud and A3C, were founded by independent promoters looking to fill the space the major promotion companies were overlooking — though that, too, is changing, with the introduction of Day N Vegas, a production of Goldenvoice/AEG Presents.
At all of these events, the lineups are deep and diverse, providing an excellent opportunity to see hip-hop’s rookie class in action on the same stages as the stars they hope to supplant one day.
“Our lineup is built on a foundation of not-headliners,” said Tariq Cherif, co-founder of Rolling Loud, which has been operating since 2015 and arrives in New York for the first time this fall. “We put the headliners on top of our foundation — they’re the roof.”
Having a festival that sounds like the city it’s in “has been our sauce since day one,” Cherif added. That means a lineup that includes established New York veterans like DMX, Fat Joe and Wu-Tang Clan, as well as local artists who are also beginning to bubble up into broader renown, like Pop Smoke, Lil Tecca and Lil Tjay.
Sep. 28-29; Coliseum Grounds, Oakland, Calif.
Oct. 8-13; Various locations, Atlanta
Oct. 12-13; Citi Field, Queens, N.Y.
Day N Vegas
Nov. 1-3; Las Vegas Festival Grounds, Las Vegas
Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival
Nov. 9-10; Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles