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Festival Face-Off

A blow-by-blow breakdown of this summer's overstuffed concert extravaganzas.


Black Lips playing at the 2007 Siren Music Festival.  

Siren Music Festival
The Village Voice's annual indie-rock bash returns, perhaps for the last time.
When: July 19
Where: Coney Island
Risk Heatstroke For: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Broken Social Scene.
Getting There: Easy. Just a hop, skip, and (okay, sort of long) subway ride away.
Price Gouging: Nonexistent: It's totally free! Save your cash for Shoot the Freak.
Don't Wait Till Next Year: Bulldozers are scheduled to level much of Coney as we know it, and organizers say they're unsure of what they'll do in 2009. Don't leave before letting the Cyclone inflict a trademark-souvenir bruise.


All Points West
Coachella founders do their thing, for the first time, on our coast.
When: August 8–10
Where: Liberty State Park
Risk Heatstroke For: Radiohead, Radiohead, Radiohead! Oh, Animal Collective and Cat Power, too.
Getting There: Not too hard. No general parking is allowed, but you can take the New Jersey Transit Light Rail or, for a more scenic trip, the ferry. In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, a limited number of car-pool passes are also available.
Price Gouging: On Friday or Saturday, when Radiohead headlines? Low — $89 is a steal for their only local appearance. But on Sunday, when Jack Johnson headlines? That’s a different story entirely.
Opportunities for Self-congratulation: Plenty. Recycling stations will be set up around the event, an Eco Village is designed to connect you with do-gooder nonprofits, and $2 per ticket is donated to Friends of Liberty State Park.


Rock the Bells
Hip-hop festival in only its second year as a touring event boasts a ridiculous lineup.
When: August 3
Where: Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Risk Heatstroke For: Nas, Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest, the Pharcyde, and Santogold.
Getting There: Very hard. From Manhattan, you'll need to take the LIRR and a bus. Or you could drive, which on a Sunday afternoon in August means you'll be competing with beachgoers.
Price Gouging: Low. Tickets starting at $39.50 are well worth it to see both the Pharcyde and Tribe reunited. And merch prices aren't inflated, either.
Hipster Quotient: Higher than you may think, now that Mos Def is starring in Michel Gondry films and Santogold has been declared the new M.I.A.

Kanye West  

Hot 97 Summer Jam
The unpredictable annual radio-rap circus.
When: June 1
Where: Giants Stadium
Risk Heatstroke For: Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and Public Enemy.
Getting There: Not too hard. Bus service to Giants Stadium is available from Port Authority, but parking is limited as a result of the construction on the new stadium.
Price Gouging: Medium. Just $40 will get you in, but you'll be in the far reaches of the venue. Floor seats start at $125. Still, tickets to see Kanye alone could sell for twice that.
Beef Potential: Low. Everyone knows Summer Jam is where you air out your differences (see: Jay-Z versus Nas, the Game versus 50). But this year's batch, unfortunately, doesn't look too ornery.
For the Misers: Save your dough and check out the free mini-concert held outside the stadium before the show, featuring under-the-radar artists like Kid Sister, V.I.C., Tyga, and Buckshot.

Warped Tour
Yes, this traveling mall-punk paradise is still kicking.
When: July 26
Where: Nassau Coliseum Parking Lot
Risk Heatstroke For: Gym Class Heroes, Reel Big Fish, Relient K, and Say Anything.
Getting There: Tough. If you’re not driving, the only other option is taking a train to a bus or taxi.
Price Gouging: Low. Tickets are $35, and, while the food might be overpriced, merchandise from the tents is cheap.
Ratio of Fans to Port-o-Potties: 107 to 1
Absurdity of Marketing Tie-ins: Through the roof. You can watch skateboarders on the Vans-sponsored mini-ramps, rock out in the Guitar Hero tent, then register a blog in the MySpace kiosk. Or you could let convince you to quit smoking, get autographs at the AT&T Signing Stage, then stop by for a sample at the Monster-energy-drink semi parked on the grounds.


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