September 27 - October 5
Adelaide | Melbourne | Perth | Brisbane | Sydney
"All the people, so many people, they all go hand in hand through their parklife," sang Blur's Damon Albarn on the voyeuristic pleasures of people-watching. No better place to do it than at a music fest, and this traveling one ignites Australia's summer season as the Northern Hemisphere's winds down. The ninth edition of the iconic festival has a kick-ass lineup that's both fun and diverse. Bombastic performers like Goldfrapp, Soulwax, Dizzee Rascal, Diplo, and Peaches meet party-rocking DJs like XXXChange and 2Many. Plus, there're bands like Does It Offend You, Yeah?, and dudes like Martin Solveig pumping live French house.
RA Pick: Catch a rare Oz performance from New York's premiere disco DJs, Metro Area.
09. Eargasm Open Air
Couldn't get 10 Days Off? Take one late summer day and night at one of Belgium's significant smaller festivals. This grassroots party has been growing steadily in the past few years, and honors the hippie sensibilities of its primarily psychedelic-minded crowd with cheap tickets (10-15 Euro) that benefit a charity. Eargasm is one of 300 fests that work with humanitarian group Earthdance, and the proceeds help fund the birth of a girls' school in Tanzania. Something to think about while enjoying Sweden's Hux Flux, live sets from La Mila, Scope, Yannick Thiry vs. Psyvader, and tons of Belgium's best DJs.
RA pick: Cocoon's Chris Tietjen commanding the new minimal stage with a three-hour set.
September 19 - 20
Friday | Saturday
Athens' 2008 Synch Festival was a blast, and here's another great argument for extending summer by mashing up music, art, and the natural beauty of Greece. The long-running contemporary art fest Reworks brings over 100 musical artists this year, and considering September's calendar is bursting with Euro-techno, there are some happy surprises to be found: Massive Attack's Daddy G does a DJ set, Jazzanova kicks a similarly deep groove, and Pilooski brings his humorous and electric style to the proceedings, while Pan-Pot, Marco Bailey and the Wighnomy Brothers keep you flying high.
RA pick: Luciano, M.A.N.D.Y., and DJ T represent too.
September 18 - 20
Thursday | Friday | Saturday
As part of a month-long series of events and festivals called Firenzestate 08, Florence supports its electronic music fans—rather squarely called "'beat' dance enthusiasts" on Web site—with a small but sure lineup over three days. It's held in a beautiful 19th-century railway station-cum-arts center. And it has a sensible schedule of 6 PM - 3 AM, ensuring that you won't miss a beat of Poni Hoax, Joakim, and Italy's Andrea Esu and Crookers on Friday; Mass Prod, Chicks on Speed, John Tejada & Arian Leviste, and Cassy on Saturday; and Radiq, Monolake, and Jeff Mills on Sunday. Tutto bene!
RA pick: Enjoy a plate of prosciutto in the Tuscan capital, and then dance it off.
September 26 - 27
The Hague, Netherlands
Friday | Saturday
Projected creatures climbing up walls, and modern dance that incorporates digital landscapes are just two things you'll encounter at this fourth annual festival for "adventurous creativity." Spread across more than 20 venues in The Hague, the musical selections are uniformly stellar, whether you're after the feverish funk of !!!, the Euro-Latin hybrid of Pier Bucci or the space-disco of Norway's Prins Thomas. Dubstep's various permutations are also healthily represented with 2562 and Deadbeat. About half of the lineup is Dutch, making this a prime opportunity to seize not just today's art but theirs as well.
RA pick: Icelandic ambient dreamweaver (and Mary Anne Hobbs favorite) Ben Frost.
September 25 - 28
At a recent Kode9 gig in Seattle, I asked a random person to ID a track that had the place bumping. Without hesitation, he said, "It's 'Poison Dart,' by The Bug featuring Warrior Queen, and it's on Steppa's Delight, on Soul Jazz, the best compilation of the year!" The Pacific Northwest outpost may seem backwater, but it's also a Petri dish of passionate geekdom and musical fanaticism. That's why it stands to reason that with Carl Craig, Deadmau5, Jahcoozi, Dixon (live), Barbara Morgenstern (ditto) and even more creative, informed choices on the bill that this should be one of its best yet. One of Db's strengths are its ambient/experimental showcases, which this year include the lush sounds of Eluvium, and composer William Basinski.
RA pick: The Bug and Warrior Queen, live. Duh.
September 12 - 14
Night: Penn Plaza Pavilion / Day: TBC
New York, New York
Thank Minimoo for Minitek. The promotion team has been bringing New Yorkers their only regular dose of "strictly no vocals" techno for a couple of years now and cultivating a personality that's dark, dirty, and somewhat mysterious. (Their parties are normally invitation-only.) But for these two days and nights, even those 18 and up can attend, and it's all-ages during the still-TBC daytimes. Overall, it's an ambitious and super-cool lineup of the usual Euro suspects, stateside slammers like Audion and Derek Plaslaiko, and special live sets by many artists including Israel's Guy Gerber, and Germany's Buttrich and Schneider.
RA pick: Toss up: the "multi-touch interface" music-maker Roots, by Owen Vallis and Jordan Hochenbaum, or the M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Tiefschwarz B2B.
September 19 - 20 / 26 - 27 / October 11
Sept 19 | Sept 20 | Sept 26 | Sept 27 | Oct 11
Nord. Art. Musique. Electronique. This year, N.A.M.E. happens over two weekends in one city, the beautiful northern Lille. If I'm interpreting the Web site en Francais correctly, there will be cinema, art installations, multimedia, "photo & hot dog," and a planetarium to distract you when not sweating to the techno-heavy lineups. For instance, It's a Fine Line feat. Ivan Smagghe vs. Tim Paris kick things off with Loco Dice, Carl Craig, Martin Buttrich, Matthus Rama, and Osel—along with Dubfire, D'Julz, Nic Fanciulli, Efdemin, and Pantha du Prince—on the first weekend. The next features Chloe live, Anja Schneider, Shit Robot, Radio Slave, Tiefscwarz, !!!, and plenty more.
RA pick: Quiet Village—who've infamously been playing their CD set to a video screen—supposedly live on the 26th.
02. Green & Blue
"That's what I love about these high school girls, man—I keep getting older, they stay the same age." Replace "high school girls" with "new ravers" and you might have the essence of Sven Väth. Like Matthew Mcconaughey's character in Dazed & Confused, he's the sexy older guy who knows where the party is, and who thinks you should ditch the geeks and get in the hot rod with him. But that's alright, 'cause he will see you there. Väth's Frankfurt club Cocoon was just voted (by you guys) the world's #1 best-designed nightspot. The party continues there after a day (10 a.m.-10 p.m.) of swimming in the woods of Obertshausen and grooving to Väth, Turkey's Onur Özer, Romania's Raresh, Villalobos, Tolga Fidan, Loco Dice, Tobi Neumann, and Chris Tietjen.
RA pick: Extrawelt playing live, and debuting tracks from their upcoming Cocoon full-length.
September 5 - 7
Robin Hill County Park
The Isle of Wight, England
Bold name, that—but it's pretty much correct. Unbelievable madness and eclecticism reign at this sold-out annual on the Isle of Wight, half of which is officially termed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The festival is curated for the fifth year by BBC Radio 1's Rob da Bank, and creatively directed by his wife and partner Josie. Let's imagine 2008's planning conversation:
Rob: My Bloody Valentine will headline along with Underworld, Aphex Twin, George Clinton and P-Funk, 808 State, and Pendulum. Carl Craig, Jamie Lidell, and the Sugarhill Gang will appear—
Josie: The Sugarhill Gang?!
Rob: Yes, and let's have The Human League play Dare in its entirety, and follow it with Gary Numan, and then...
Josie: "Um, at any rate, we'll have a spectacular new tipi & yurt field, energy-balancing massages, solar-powered movies, teatime burlesque, the inflatable wedding chapel—and what is the fancy dress theme this year?"
Rob, John, and Ziggy: "30,000 Freaks Under the Sea!!! Calling all Mermaids, Giant Squid, Sharks and Deep-Sea Divers!"*
RA pick: Lee "Scratch" Perry, Sebastian Tellier, or Fuck Buttons? Just toss the game plan and go for it.
* actual quote
Need more festivals? Check out our full international festival listings.
Top photo credit: John Pallot