Any loyal heavy metal fan in the States knows that the metal musical festival scene the scene isn’t the smorgasbord of choice it once was. Many of the big names of the festival scene have folded, as the reigning kings (and queens) of metal hang up their drumsticks.
But don’t worry! There’s still a heap of epic metal music festivals across the U.S.A showcasing classic bands and promising up-and-comers.
Spanning the many subgenres of metal, my list of the best 20 American metal music festivals is sure to keep your annual festival schedule jam-packed. Rock on.
1) Las Rageous
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
“Sin City’s premiere rock and metal festival, Las Rageous brings the noise to downtown Las Vegas. Taking place at an intimate outdoor venue, this event only sells 10,000 tickets, which means you get to see your favorite metal acts up close and personal in one of world’s most entertaining cities.”
2) 70000 Tons of Metal
When: January 7-11, 2020
Where: Miami – Fort Lauderdale – Cozumel (Mexico)
“60 Bands, 4 Days, 1 Cruise Ship, and only 3000 Tickets. This is 70000TONS OF METAL™, The Original, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise! On 70000TONS OF METAL™ you get unrestricted festival access to all 120 live shows on board, 70000TONS™ OF KARAOKE until sunrise, Jamming In International Waters – the Official 70000TONS OF METAL™ All Star Jam which writes Heavy Metal History every year, Clinics and Work-Shops with the musicians, our infamous Belly Flop Contest, Shore Excursions with your favorite artists, and much more! Everyone on board is a VIP, we don’t have assigned seating (this is a Heavy Metal Cruise after all), and most importantly the bars on our ship never close – you heard us, bars that never close!”
3) Welcome to Rockville
Where: Jacksonville, Florida
“Welcome to Rockville roars into Jacksonville, Florida, every spring with a powerful rock and metal lineup. Part of the World’s Loudest Month, more than 50,000 fans show up for a monster weekend of non stop rock with 45 bands on 4 stages.”
4) Rock USA
Where: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
“Rock USA is one of the largest rock music and camping festivals in the nation. Rock USA delivers three days of non-stop rock, a unique food & beverage experience, & unforgettable camping all located on the beautiful Ford Festival Park. Rock USA will be even bigger & better than ever with 60 acres of concert grounds located on a huge 300-acre festival park. Rock USA is Solid Rock… No Limits, with an incredible 2.2 million dollar talent budget featuring a HUGE rock line-up! Rock USA has featured such artists as : Van Halen, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Kiss, Journey, Def Leppard, Disturbed, Ozzy Osbourne, & more!”
5) Aftershock Festival
Where: Sacramento, California
“Aftershock Festival is an annual concert sponsored by Monster Energy held in Sacramento, California that features several rock and metal acts. Beginning in 2012, the festival expanded from a one-day concert to a two-day festival. In 2019, the festival expanded to three days.”
6) NY Deathfest
Where: Brooklyn, New York
“New York may be a city of towering skyscrapers and big dreams, but at street level, space is limited. Many of New York’s most important and best organized events take place in a series of cramped grottos and basements, attended by attractive, high-profile fashionistas. But a multi-day death metal festival full of brutal tech and slam? Nah, son. That shit’s not getting more than one venue – and you’ll be lucky if the line-up isn’t just a bunch of barely-practiced locals. And yet, 2018’s sixth annual New York Deathfest managed to pull it off with scrappy gusto. Organized by local promoter and distro Gutter Christ Productions and hosted by legendary Brooklyn metal hub Saint Vitus Bar, this underground free-for-all brings together an international line-up of tight, driven bands who’re as furious as they are happy to be there. The result is a wonderful weekend of music that sounds like mechanized gangrene being devoured by a grateful, hungry fanbase.”
7) Sonic Temple
When: May 17-19, 2019
Where: Columbus, Ohio
“The inaugural Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival replaces the long-standing Rock On The Range, America’s largest and most acclaimed rock festival, which routinely sold out over its 12-year span. Sonic Temple debuts at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, May 17, Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, 2019.”
8) New England Metal Hardcore Festival
Where: Worcester, Massachusetts
“Since 1999, the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest has served as one of the biggest attractions in the Northeast for fans of aggressive music, uniting an eclectic range of heavy acts for a punishing weekend-long assault. The first wave of bands for the 20th installment of the festival have been announced with Morbid Angel and Kamelot topping the bill on Friday and Saturday respectively.”
9) Full Terror Assault
When: September 5-7, 2019
Where: Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
“Last year Full Terror Assault made waves by becoming the first TRUE open air metal festival in the U.S. — multiple days, multiple stages, camping and partying, all in an isolated pocket of wilderness in southern Illinois. Only a short drive from a number of major metropolitan areas — St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati and Lexington, to name a few — it’s easily accessible to anyone looking for a fun-filled weekend of metal and partying!”
10) Berserker Music Fest
Where: Detroit, Michigan
“Annual Michigan punk/metal fest Berserker returns in September at The Crofoot in Pontiac, MI. Past headliners of this festival include Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals, Macabre, Negative Approach, Battlecross, Tombs, Homewrecker, King Parrot, Child Bite, The Armed, Oozing Wound, Couch Slut, Bloodiest, A Deer A Horse and Shock Narcotic.”
Where: Pryor, Oklahoma
“Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed, Shinedown and Bush will lead this year’s Rocklahoma, the hard-rock fest that invades Pryor, Oklahoma on Memorial Day weekend. Ace Frehley, Lita Ford, Jackyl, Seether, Buckcherry, Asking Alexandria, Blackberry Smoke, Tech N9ne, Steel Panther and Bad Wolves are also on the lineup at the “Catch the Fever” Festival Grounds. The Rocklahoma festival, now in its 13th year, will add a series of amenities in 2019, including the Roadhouse (headlined by Frehley and Ford) and a food area dubbed Burgers, Brews, & Barbecue.”
12) Metal Threat Fest
Where: Chicago, Illinois
“Move over Lollapalooza, the Windy City is getting its own underground metal festival. Inspired by fests like Maryland Deathfest and Martyrdoom, Metal Threat Fest will bring some great underground bands to the second city to absolutely crush it. Already confirmed are the legendary Exciter, Razor, Inquisition, Bulldozer and more.”
13) So What? Music Festival
Where: Houston, Texas
“The Texas-based So What?! Music Festival in is returning after taking a year off, and they’re certainly coming back with a bang. Formerly South By So What, So What?! announced four bands who will be joining them for their big return. The previous festival in March 2017 included Attila, The Story So Far, Dance Gavin Dance, Every Time I Die and many more.”
14) Migration Fest
Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“Migration Fest will feature nearly 30 bands over the course of 3 days. With almost the entire lineup curated from the 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media label rosters, with a small number of hand-picked special guests. Migration Fest will return to Pittsburgh in the Summer of 2020. Details forthcoming.”
15) Maryland Deathfest
Where: Baltimore, Maryland
“America’s biggest annual metal party. Maryland Deathfest is a multi-day event held in Baltimore with dozens of bands from around the world. It is the biggest of its kind in North America. MDF was the idea of two extreme metal fans named Ryan and Evan. During the 16 years of festival history, MDF has featured over 500 bands from over 30 countries, many of which have made their US debut at the festival. The festival is promoted with the slogan: “America’s biggest metal party of the year.””
16) ProgPower USA
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
“ProgPower USA is the premier U.S. festival for progressive and power metal. For 19 years they have been a key part in bringing some of the biggest and best names in the international progressive and power metal scenes to the United States. It takes place every September at the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, Georgia and is known for the quality of acts it brings, the continued high production standard, and the familial atmosphere of the event. Every year during the festival, on days 1 and 3, the ProgPower USA attendees gather in the theater before the headlining band takes the stage for what has become an event all its own. Right in the middle of the action, the next year’s line-up gets announced.”
17) Chicago Open Air
Where: Chicago, Illinois
“Chicago Open Air is an annual concert held in Bridgeview, Illinois that features several rock and metal acts. Beginning in 2016, the festival got a lot of recognition as it was Rammstein’s only US performance that year. Chicago Open Air returns after a one year hiatus to Toyota Park, Chicago in 2019!”
18) Fort Rock
Where: Sunrise, Florida
“Def Leppard, Soundgarden, The Offspring, A Perfect Circle, Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal… Fort Rock covers all your hard rock bases, from grunge and hair metal to punk pop and deep doom. Something for everyone. Also, it’s in Florida, so it’ll be nice and toasty.”
When: July – September
Where: Various cities across the United States
“SLIPKNOT have announced their live return, unveiling details of their massive Knotfest Roadshow headline tour set to traverse across North America this summer. The 29-city Knotfest Roadshow will start July 26th at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California and wrap September 8th at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at the Woodlands, Texas. Slipknot will be joined by special guests Volbeat, Gojira and Behemoth throughout the trek.”
When: Dates alternate
Where: Various cities across the United States
“Ozzfest is an annual festival tour of the United States and sometimes Europe featuring performances by many heavy metal and hard rock musical groups. It was founded by Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon Osbourne, both of whom also organise each yearly tour with their son Jack Osbourne. The Ozzfest tour has featured bands of a variety of genres within heavy metal and hard rock, including alternative metal, thrash metal, industrial metal, metalcore, hardcore punk, deathcore, nu metal, death metal, post-hardcore, gothic metal and black metal.”
Am I Missing Any Other Death Metal Festivals…?
When I put togethet these types of lists it can be quite difficult to research and discover all the best metal festivals, so please do let me know if you think I need to add any important ones to my list!!
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