KQED Guides

Guide to Summer’s Best Music Festivals

Wendy Goodfriend

More than just a treat for your ears, these music festivals offer something for all your senses. Hear amazing music, see the Bay Area’s beautiful parks, feel the warm sun on your face, smell the faint aroma of marijuana (medicinal of course) smoke wafting over the masses and taste scrumptious food from local vendors. You can leave your iPod at home — just this once.

Bask Music Festival

Bask Music and Arts Festival

Fri-Sun July 20–22
Hilton Campground, Forestville
Three-day music, art, variety show and camping festival along the forested banks of the Russian River in Sonoma County. This year’s musical selection includes California indie rock band Wooster; SF-based Afrobeat 12-piece Albino; and L.A.’s Black Flamingo.

Phono del Sol

Sat July 21
Potrero Del Sol Park, 25th Street @ Utah, San Francisco
The Fresh & Onlys headline the 2nd annual Phono del Sol music and food festival with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Dominant Legs, Sea of Bees, Mwahaha and more.

Concerts at the Cove

Crab Cove Visitor Center, 1252 McKay Ave, Alameda
Fri August 10, 4:30–7:30pm
Get down with the marine life at Crown Memorial State Beach. Watch a battle of the bands from three bands selected over the summer. Bring your own lawn chairs and a blanket.

Woodsist Weekend/Folk Yeah

Woodsist 2012 Presented by Folkyeah

Sat-Sun August 4–5, 2pm
Henry Miller Memorial Library, 48603 Highway One, Big Sur
Although this musical festival is already sold out, scouring Craigslist is worth it for the payoff: two magical days of music among the giant redwoods of California’s beautiful coast! The lineup includes Real Estate, Thee Oh Sees, Mantles, White Fence and The Fresh & Onlys.


Fri-Sun Aug 10–12, 11am–10pm
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
This three-day music festival in Golden Gate Park may be pricey, but it’s well worth figuring out a way to go. Check out the lineup, headed up by Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Jack White, Beck, Metallica and Foo Fighters, before sacrificing your green or your skin. Check out last year’s coverage of the event here.


Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach

Fridays through Aug 31, 6:30–8:30pm
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz
Ride Santa Cruz’s famous wooden roller coaster and revisit the ’80s music scene with free outdoor concerts featuring The Blue Oyster Cult, The Tubes, Modern English, A Flock of Seagulls, Eddie Money, and more!

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Various dates through Oct 28
Mission @ 3rd/4th Street, San Francisco
Three outdoor stages present 100 free programs throughout the summer, including an eclectic mix of classical, world and jazz music, theater, and contemporary and traditional dance.

- By Nicole Zeichick and Adrienne Blaine