[image-1]Our favorite time of year is festival season, and this year’s offerings are the best yet — particularly when you consider the mouth-watering lineups coming to town via the inaugural High Water Festival and the Summer Shindig. But we also have to give shoutouts to places like Columbia, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Athens because they’re giving fans around the South a reason to gas up and go for a little road trip.

Here are some of the highlights coming soon to a venue near you:

1. Art Bar Agora
May 6
Art Bar, Columbia

Art Bar Agora takes place twice a year in dear, old Columbia and, reliably, always features a slew of local artists and makers and a stellar lineup. This year’s is one for the books, too, with the following artists from Cola, Charleston, and beyond cushioning a super phat 2017 bill: ET Anderson’s Broken Local Scene (featuring Emily McCollum, Max Puckett, Marcy Ray, Thomas Hammond, and Grace Joyner), Zack Mexico, Dear Blanca, Grace Joyner, the Artisanals, Ivadell, Say Brother, 2 Slices, and Numbtongue.

2. AthFest
June 23-25
Downtown Athens

AthFest is a three-day music and arts festival that goes down every year via multiple venues in downtown Athens. Here you’ll catch over 100 local and regional bands on two outdoor stages and over a dozen local clubs. Make your attendance count by getting in on the club crawl, giving you access to all the fest has to offer. Proceeds go to support music and arts education in the Athens community.

3. Indie Grits
April 20-23
Downtown Columbia

For 11 years now, Columbia’s Indie Grits Festival has highlighted every form of art imaginable, touching throughout the years on music, puppets, crafts, food, film, technology, gaming, and more. In fact, it began in 2007 as a film festival before evolving into a special local celebration that’s pretty music-heavy. This year’s headliners are Nashville alt-country faves Lambchop and soulman Curtis Harding. Other performers include electro/hip-hop/R&B artist and vocalist Shara, indie-rockers Those Lavender Whales, jazz/rock/world band Vanilla Summit, the Palmetto Latin 5, math/emo rock duo Paper Shoes, and Boogaloo, early-’70s salsa, and cumbia music mixer DJ Alejandro. An Art Bar afterparty welcomes Charleston electro-R&B-hip-hop maestro Contour and cosmic DJs Father Daughter Dance. Indie Grits’ Puppet Slam features indie-pop band Skeletons.

4. Shaky Knees
May 12-14
Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

The fifth-annual Shaky Knees festival is back and will take over Centennial Olympic Park once again for three days of tunes from some of the heaviest-hitting names in rock. Headliners? LCD Soundsystem, The XX, Phoenix, The Shins, Ryan Adams, the Pixies, Dr Dog, Sylvan Esso, and Charleston’s very own Shovels & Rope — just to name a few. And if that’s not enough, there are also the late-night shows, which are totally great if you can refrain from overdoing it all day at the fest — not that we’re speaking from experience (we are).

5. Freeway Music Festival
May 20
Downtown Columbia

Freeway Music Festival is a one-day Soda City extravaganza welcoming local/regional hip-hop, indie rock, garage rock, string band, electronic, and more. It all happens on two stages inside Columbia’s Music Farm, an acoustic stage on the Farm’s patio, and one stage inside Tin Roof (also in the capital i.e. not to be confused with Charleston venues of the same name). This is the fifth-annual fest, which, in conjunction with Music Roots and Music Farm, will use proceeds to help build a greenhouse at City Roots to educate children about sustainability and hydroponics. Food grown at the greenhouse will go to Harvest Hope Food Bank, and for every greenhouse built in the state, the parent charity will build a sister greenhouse in a third-world country. If that’s not enough to convince you to go, this list of performers should be: Joe Pug, the High Divers, the Mobros, Fatrat Da Czar, Danielle Howle, the Restoration, Secret Guest, King Vulture, the Hadleys, Post-Timey String Band, the Lovely Few, Dempsey, Alarm Drum, Ropeswing Marathon, Sandcastles, Bellavida, 2 Slices, Numbtongue, and Ben Walker.

6. High Water Festival
April 22-23
Riverfront Park, North Charleston

If you’re not already on the High Water train, it’s probably too late. Well, maybe not. The Shovels & Rope-curated fest sold out soon after tickets went on sale, but if you’re as desperate as we are to see the Shins, Charles Bradley, JD McPherson, Lucius, and more all on one bill, you’re probably closely monitoring Craigslist as we speak. Best of luck with that (hey, good things can happen on Craigslist). And not only does High Water have a drool-worthy bill, it also celebrates Charleston’s culinary and craft beer scene with experiences like Low Tide Social, a 6 p.m. launch party with a Lowcountry boil from the Smoking Pot and songs from Lucinda Williams, Langhornre Slim, and Charleston’s own Ranky Tanky (tickets still available here); Pass the Peas, a brunch series featuring Holy City chefs (sold out); and The Porch, which is just that — a porch on which to sit back and sip on local libations in-between shows. Featured brewers on the Porch are Holy City Brewing, Two Blokes Brewing, Coast Brewing, Cooper River Brewing, Frothy Beard Brewing, Palmetto Brewery, Revelry Brewing, Lo-Fi Brewing, and Lagunitas Brewing Company. Oh, and besides ShoRo there are several Charleston acts (or Charleston-connected ones) sharing stages with the likes of the Avett Brothers, like INDIANOLA, Slow Runner, Jump, Little Children, and the Shrimp Records Family Band. If you make it out to the fest, come say hi — we’ll be the ones bowing down to Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent in thanks for bringing such a high-quality festival (better than Shaky Knees and Bonnaroo, in our humble opinion) to our fair city.

7. Summer Shindig
June 24
The Royal American, Charleston

Summer Shindig was founded four years ago by Dan McCurry of Hearts & Plugs as a way of showcasing the label’s artists. But as the label is no more, McCurry has passed along the torch to Charles Carmody’s Murias Entertainment, which has worked on Shindigs since 2014, and the Royal American, which hosted last year’s event to bring you the event of the summer. The 2017 version that Carmody and the Royal American’s John Kenney have cooked up is what Charleston has needed: a diverse music festival celebrating local and regional artists of all genres. The result is a bill of some of the most talented acts around these parts — Futurebirds, Matt Monday, the Artisanals, Young Mister, the Very Hypnotic Soul Band, Zack Mexico, ET Anderson, DUMB Doctors, Grace Joyner, Riot Stares, and Jordan Igoe — performing across two outdoor stages and inside the venue. Both the Royal American and Home Team will serve up the grub, and the mini fest is set to continue ‘til closing time with an indoor afterparty kicking off at 11 p.m. with Crab Claw and DJ Party Dad and friends.

8. Reverb Fest 5
April 29

Reverb Fest
Woah, now. Have you heard of Reverb Fest? It’s a sweet little celebration of regional bands of the indie-rock persuasion. This year’s headliner is Of Montreal (exciting), and a slew of superb acts will support, including JMSN, the Coathangers, Paint Fumes, Infinity Crush, Hectorina, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Zack Mexico, Tape Waves (hey Charleston, represent), Alright, LeAnna Eden & the Garden Of, Christina Schneider’s Jepeto Solutions, MyBrother MySister, and Blame the Youth. The vibes will all go down at Snug Harbor and the Station, and passes are an unbelievable bargain: $20. Get on it.

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