We know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, music festivals? Beer tent lineups? Porta-potties? Mud? Dirt? Douchebags? No thanks.” But hear us out: not every outdoor concert ends up like Altamont. Some of them can be a swell time without ruining your life. You’ve just got to make sure you attend the right one. This country’s got ample space for an overabundance of all-day music extravaganzas, so deciding which show to spill the shekels on can be a wicked task. That is, unless you’ve got this gig guide, which hand-picks the right summer festivals for gentlemen of every ilk. Then it’s easy as pie.
For Blokes About to Rock: Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
Okay, so the Ottawa Bluesfest isn’t really a blues fest. But seeing how the annual affair has drawn big-ticket names like James Brown, the White Stripes, Bob Dylan and Snoop Dogg over the years, the sloppy christening is forgivable. This year, the event boasts a headbang-heavy line-up including resurrected ’90s grungesters Soundgarden, reformed ’00′s alt-metallers A Perfect Circle and reborn mid-’00s dance-punksters Death From Above 1979 (see a trend here?), as well meat n’ potatoes rock acts The Tragically Hip, Cheap Trick, the Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, Peter Frampton and the Tea Party. Oh and look, Buddy Guy’s on the bill too. A real bluesman? Get outta’ town. July 5-17, Lebreton Flats & the War Museum, Ottawa. $ 140-260, ottawabluesfest.ca.
For Gentlemen with Swagger: OVO Fest
If you have a penchant for the hipping and the hopping, there’s no better gig to hit this summer than the OVO Festival, hosted by rap’s current golden boy, Drake. Backed by Drizzy’s production company October’s Very Own, the fest will feature a performance by the man himself, as well as sets by lyrical manslaughterer Rick Ross, blogerati-approved R&B phenom The Weeknd and some “surpise secret guests.” Yes, we know the last time you had a surprise secret guest it was the IRS, but 2010′s mystery performers included Jay-Z, Eminem and Kardinal Offishall, so the odds are in your favour. July 31, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto. $ 30-125, octobersveryown.blogspot.com.
For Renaissance Men: Quebec City Summer Festival
Yes, silly. Of course there are reasons to visit Quebec besides eating poutine and punching that Bonhomme guy in the face. Known to locals as Festival d’ete, Quebec City Summer Festival is the most eclectic music extravagazna in the country, previously playing host to artists as disparate as Kanye West, Rammstein and Paul McCartney. This year, the fest is set to make music history on the already-historical Plains of Abraham by featuring Metallica and Elton John. On the same bill. For the first time. Ever. (You may also want to check out the Black Keys, Jean-Pierre Ferland, John Fogerty and Ben Harper). July 7-17, various venues, Quebec City. $ 30-65, infofestival.com.
For Fellers Who Keep it Copasetic: Vancouver Island Music Festival
Woodstock, brother. They don’t make gigs that happenin’ anymore. But some fests out there are still keeping the groove alive. The two-day Vancouver Island MusicFest, for example, is totally in tune with mother earth’s heartbeat, providing a camping ground for her flower children to graze on while making real righteous partnerships with various evironmental and social justice organizations. But besides that, David Crosby is headlining, dude. From freakin’ Crosby, Stills & Nash. He was there, man. Other cool cats playing the love-in include Randy Newman, Rodney Crowell, Jon Anderson (from YES), Holly Cole and Corey Harris & The Rasta Blues Experience. Good times. Good vibes. July 8-10, Vancouver Island. $ 99-159, islandmusicfest.com.
For Connoisseurs of Fine Metals: Heavy T.O. & Heavy MTL
If you like your music loud, July’s got no shortage of tinnitus-inducing concerts. Montreal’s annual Heavy MTL festival has been such a consistent wet dream for metalheads that its organizers have expanded to Toronto this year. Heavy T.O. is guaranteed to be a shred-tastic affair, with thrash elderstatesmen Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer laying waste to the stage alongside the likes of Anvil, Rob Zombie and Mastodon. Heavy MTL, meanwhile, boasts headliners KISS, Disturbed, and Godsmack. Although both festivals occur on the same two days, Opeth, Billy Talent, and Motörhead are scheduled to appear in both cities. It sounds kind of impossible, except in the latter band’s case, as Lemmy’s achieved omnipresent rock god-status by now. July 23-24, Downsview Park, Toronto; Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal. $ 83-202.50, heavyto.com, heavymtl.com.
For Men of the World: Edmonton Folk Music Festival 2011
Remember those hootenannies back in the days of yore, when free-spirited folk songsters would come together and share music in the spirit of love and community? No? That’s alright. The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is basically a better version of those, anyway. For four days in August, a hilly basin along the North Saskatchewan River becomes a giant musical melting pot, where artists from around the globe—Andrew Bird, Aurelio and Garifuna Soul, Delhi 2 Dublin and KT Tunstall this year, to name a few—congregate for an aural orgy of folk, bluegrass, blues, gospel, roots and worldbeat tunes. It’s just as fun as it sounds. August 4-7, Gallagher Park, Edmonton. $ 55-149, edmontonfolkfest.org.