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To Bonnaroo, or not to Bonnaroo? That is the question, more so with each passing year, as summer music festivals increasingly become the must-see events for the serious music head. This is an even more pronounced reality for music lovers in the Buffalo area, who routinely gripe about the tendency of major marquee (and uber-hip alternative) acts given to skip over our town in favor of ... well, just about everywhere else, it seems.

So if you're hoping to see, say, Paul McCartney, Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, Phoenix or Queens of the Stone Age, you're going to have to travel to a festival like Sasquatch, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza for the privilege. (This may change, of course, but at press time, none of the above mentioned acts are scheduled to play the Buffalo area this summer.)

This can get expensive pretty quickly. Tickets are generally a bit of a bargain for the quantity and quality of talent on display at a major festival, $75 to $235 for a three-day pass to Bonnaroo, for example. But when you factor in travel costs, lodging or camping fees, food, gas, etc., a trip to a summer festival becomes a major investment.

If you can swing it, well, bless you, and you should certainly go for it. But if finances, work obligations, family demands and the like weigh heavily on you, there are certainly other options.

The touring Mayhem Festival is one. Without breaking the bank, you can catch Jane's Addiction, Alice In Chains, Coheed & Cambria and more at Darien Lake on July 14. (Top prices for this show are $85; lawn admission is $35.) The Warped Tour comes to Darien Lake on July 6, and for about $45, you might feasibly catch as many as 50 bands. This, too, is a very good deal.

But why wait? Beginning tonight, you can catch an incredible array of bands at a three-day festival without even leaving Western New York. Spring Revival takes place at the Hideaway, 548 Townline Road in Lyons, which is roughly 90 minutes from Buffalo.

Spring Revival has more than the price – $60 for three days of music and three nights of camping – to recommend it. In fact, the festival is in many ways a celebration of our area's vibrant music scene, with many of Buffalo's finest bands making the roster this year, performing alongside prominent touring acts like Dopapod, a reformed Schleigho and Consider the Source.

Slip Madigan, Ocupanther, Universe Shark, Little Mountain Band and Aqueous – Buffalo bands, all of them – will perform lengthy sets between today and the early hours of Sunday morning.

Described by promoters State Wide Music as a collection of “some of the region's nastiest face-melters” concentrating on “jam/prog/funk/rock,” Spring Revival offers outdoor wooded camping, RV parking, food and craft vending, an arts village, drum workshops, and ample opportunity for you to let your inner hippie run (respectfully) wild for a few days. Food and drink vendors will be on site, but the festival is also a “BYOB” event (glass bottles excluded); valid ID is mandatory. Any festivalgoer knows this is a major money-saver.

Tickets can be purchased online through upstatelive.com, where you can also find a full lineup. You can sample the wares of the scheduled performers through soundcloud.com/statewidemusic.

If you kick off your season with Spring Revival, odds are, you'll have a taste for some more festival activity this summer. I offer my picks here, based on what I know about the venues, the history of the festival in question, the value for the dollar, and the lineup.

Sasquatch!, May 24-27 at the Gorge in Quincy, Wash., can brag about its stunning locale and incredible view. It also boasts sets from Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Elvis Costello, the XX and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, among nearly 100 others. Sadly, by this point, you're likely reduced to searching out tickets through StubHub, so I can't comment on pricing, which may vary widely for whatever's left. Check sasquatchfestival.com.

Bonnaroo (June 13-16) is the big daddy of them all. This year's trip to Manchester, Tenn., will yield headlining sets by the likes of Paul McCartney, Bjork and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but Bonnaroo is basically an all-day and all-night proposition, and the headline acts are only part of the story. Essentially, you'll have to work pretty hard to avoid having a good time in this temporary city of brotherly (and sisterly) love. Four days of music, too, as opposed to the common three days offered by most other festivals. Again, you'll have to dig around for the best ticket deals on your own – the advance ticket packages are now very close to sold out. See Bonnaroo.com.

Lollapalooza helped birth the festival concept as we now understand it with a series of groundbreaking tours in the 1990s. Now a stationary yearly one-off (Aug. 2-4 at Grant Park in Chicago), the fest has built itself back up to its former glory over the past several years, and with its home in Chicago, is basically a temporary urban idyll featuring some of the most interesting alternative music extant. This year, the new version of Nine Inch Nails – featuring Trent Reznor with friends Adrian Belew and Eric Avery – joins the Cure, Phoenix and Queens of the Stone Age at the top of the roster. Drink and food prices at Lollapalooza are much more reasonable than much of the competition.

Not surprisingly, most of the tickets are gone already, so you'll have to search to find an economically viable option. But it's worth the work. Lollapalooza.com has all the info.

You should never overlook the yearly Moe.down festival. The Buffalo-born band's annual get-togethers at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, N.Y., always boast a diverse and interesting lineup, and this year's 14th fest is no different.

In addition to several sets of moe., the Aug. 9-11 festival will also welcome Conspirator, the Stanley Jordan Trio, Conehead Buddha, the Steve Kimock Band and others. A three-day pass covering all of the bands and camping goes for $110, which makes this one far from a bank-breaker. Check out Moedown.com.

Have fun out there. And don't forget to hydrate.



email: jmiers@buffnews.com