Charleston City Paper

Six music festivals (and kitschy pit stops) worth the drive

Road Trip Time

Kelly Rae Smith Sep 5, 2018 4:00 AM
Harrison Boyce
Didja know the first ever Waffle House is in Decatur, Ga.? Go pay homage while you're hitting up Afropunk or alesso (pictured) at Imagine

Fall festival time is that sacred stretch each year when that end-o'-summer sadness is cured with the promise of tolerable outdoor music haps with cooler temps, autumnal brews, and great tunes. We've looked high and low for the coolest fests around, complete with this little collection of spots you should be gassin' up the car and heading to soon. We've included some kitschy pit stop suggestions just in case, like us, a good road trip photo opp is your thing.

Sept. 6-8
Raleigh, N.C.

As if this festival wasn't already on the must-do list every year, 2018's Hopscotch lineup includes Charleston's own Contour and Vanity Plates. Look at the impressive lineup and you'll see that they're sharing that bill with the likes of Miguel, Nile Rodgers & Chic, the Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, MC50, Thundercat, The Revolution, Liz Phair, and more — kind of a big deal. Kicking off on a Thursday, Hopscotch rocks through Saturday night with day parties aplenty, with gigs from morning to night across multiple venues, including outdoor stages and intimate dive bars. Plan your itinerary at

Jam Room Music Festival
Sat. Sept. 29

Good golly Miss Molly, the 2018 Jam Room Music Festival is nothing to turn the nose up at, and, oh hello, all of it's free. Venture up I-26 to Soda City for a good mix of national, regional, and Holy City talent. Baroness and Susto headline, while much-loved acts 2 Slices, Kid Trails, Niecy Blues feat. ET Anderson, Tomboi, Alan Drum, H3R0, Contour, Don Merckle & The Blacksmiths, Late Bloomer, and EZ Shakes round out the uber multi-genre lineup. For tickets, go to

Cameron Gott

Fall for Greenville

Oct. 12-14

It's that wonderful Fall for Greenville time of year, when the city's sweet streets go totally pedestrian, making room for food-and-drink vendors and performances galore — and the whole shebang is free. We're partial to the Lowcountry's own High Divers, Artisanals, Grace Joyner, Tyler Boone, and Gold Light, but you can also check out King Tuff, Son Little, American Aquarium, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and so much more at no dadgum cost to you. It's pretty glorious. See the full scale of events at

Sept 21-24

Go electro at the Imagine Music Festival happening at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will be transformed into an undersea aquatic adventure complete with circus performers, mermaids, art installations, varied vendors, and more. Catch EDM headliners Armin Van Buuren, Alesso, Galantis, RL Grime, Zeds Dead, and Griz. For a full lineup, go to

Oct. 13-Oct. 14

Ready yourself for the cultural explosion that is Afropunk. Afropunk does what it says on the tin, presenting a medley of punk AF African-American artists across multiple genres. But since it's more than a festival, they're calling it a Carnival of Consciousness: "a conference, retreat, salon, seminar, a rave, a happening, think-tank, a maneuver." Producers, supporters, allies, and consumers of black culture will assemble for "music, art, film, lectures, and the honest expression of youthful black concerns, by leading contemporary voices." Some of the unmissable acts to hit the stages include N.E.R.D., Erykah Badu, Tyler the Creator, Miguel, Twin Shadow, Jamila Woods, and Janelle Monáe. Learn more at

Southern Heat Music
Sat. Sept. 29

The Southern Heat Music Festival 2 coming to Colonial Life Arena looks lit, y'all. Returning to Cola for another round of hip-hop and R&B hotshots, Southern Heat will feature performances by acts like Kevin Gates, Teyana Taylor, Lil Baby, and more. Go to for more info.