Mass Appeal: Behind Today's Top Music Festivals

WWD offers a glimpse into some of today’s most popular festivals.

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Fans at Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2005.

Photo By Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Austin City Limits Music Festival

As Perry Farrell says of his Lollapalooza partners and Austin City Limits Music Festival founders C3 Presents, “You know, in Texas, they like to do things large. But in Austin, they like to keep it freaky.” The result is this eclectic and bluesy fall festival, founded in 2002 in the Lone Star State’s most laid-back city. “We started doing our festivals from the ground up, not the top down,” says Charles Attal, one of the three Cs at C3 Presents, who got his start playing and later booking club gigs. “We always went for the meat of the lineup first. Then, if the headliners came in, great. If they didn’t, it was OK, too, because we knew we had 80 to 120 bands that were really cool and that were selling 1,000 or 2,000 tickets a night [playing] nightclubs.”

It’s an outlook that has earned the annual event, which owes its name to the renowned PBS concert series, a reputation as the go-to festival for indie rock acts on the brink of stardom. “If something’s popping at the club level, we want it,” says Attal, adding that a well-balanced lineup is as important as keeping the names fresh and new. “It’s like putting a puzzle together.”

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