BBQ, Booze, and Bands: The Beale Street Music Festival

About a week ago I got a got a text from my brother saying my mom wanted to go to the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis and wanted me to go, too. He was telling me about the lineup and it all sounded pretty good. He was hyped about Cage The Elephant being there, which I would also enjoy. Come to find out he was looking at last year’s schedule. I gave him the lowdown on the actual artist roster and, despite being Cage The Elephant-less, we agreed it was still going to be worth checking out.

For those that don’t know me, this is exciting for a couple reasons: a) I’ve attended this festival once before. It was 2005 and The Killers, The Roots, and Elvis Costello played (and none of them topped their respective days breakdown). It was a good festival, not too spread out and quality eats and such, so I’m happy to go back. b) My mom couldn’t do anything like this for a number of years. She was basically housebound the last couple years, stuck on an oxygen machine and inching toward an early demise with every passing day. Then Christmas 2014 came and she finally got the call for a lung transplant. After she got out of surgery and was able to hang out (we exchanged gifts in her hospital room), we decided she should come with us to a festival. She beat me to the bunch a bit by getting us all Rolling Stones tickets last summer, but this will be our first big outdoor music fest and I can’t wait.

I joked a bit about missing Cage The Elephant, but truth be told this lineup is solid as all get-out. I’d take Beck over Cage any day, and since we’ll be in Memphis I’m hoping he lets out some of that Midnite Vultures-style funk. Even if you don’t dig on Beck (for shame!) there’s plenty to love with three stages of music. Let’s jump right in to the daily lineups.


So, Neil Young & Promise Of The Real is the top headliner here, but he’s up against Weezer and Train-2 acts that probably don’t have a ton of overlap amongst each other, but surely both camps share fans with Neil. Train’s enduring popularity has baffled me for years, and Weezer has had trouble recreating the power of their first couple records. Still, should be a good night for music fans.

To be honest, I’m most excited about a set that will be a little earlier in the day-Gin Blossoms. The buzziest of 90’s buzz bands, I’ve somehow managed to never see them live. Even if they only played “Hey Jealousy” and then left the stage, I would probably consider it the best set of the fest.

Friday also gives us Mavis Staples, Panic At The Disco, Grace Potter, Julien Baker, Young The Giant, The Struts, Doyle Bramhall II, and Trampled By Turtles.


The middle of the fest is a bit of a mixed bag. Two artists who played in 2005 will be back (Jonny Lang and Yo Gotti), and some bands that didn’t even exist yet get good slots (Moon Taxi, Houndmouth). More 90’s stalwarts pop up on Saturday, with Better Than Ezra and Barenaked Ladies playing nostalgia-filled sets.

The headliners are a bit less divisive here, with Modest Mouse playing to the rockers, Meghan Trainor hitting the pop fans, and Jason Derulo “Talkin’ Dirty” for the r & b crowd. I’m probably the most torn about this. I certainly won’t be checking out Trainor (not my jam), but choosing between MM and Derulo isn’t easy. I haven’t been that keen on Mouse’s latest music, but I like enough of the old stuff that I should enjoy them live all the same. Derulo is a wild card. I have no idea how his live show is, but maybe after a long day I’d like to just unwind and dance a bit.


Beck is headlining so you know where to find me Sunday night. Paul Simon will be playing for the older crowd, and Zedd is laying down beats for the kids. If you like pure spectacle, Zedd would be worth checking out. For musicianship, though, it’s gotta be Beck (no matter what Kanye says).

If indie and rock are your cup of tea, prepare yourself for a fishbowl size cup of The Arcs, The Joy Formidable, Courtney Barnett, and Cold War Kids. Blues and soul fans have some good stuff to look forward to as well: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Bernard Allison, and John Primer.

Tickets are available now at a steal of $105 for 3-day passes (going up to $135 soon so act now). You could also do VIP for a much higher price, which gets you access to raised platform viewing, free light snacks and drinks, and 5 alcoholic drinks per day. Check out the link here for ticket info. Any other information about the fest can be found here.

Leave a Reply