Burning Man is an enigma. For 7 days,
you’ll take to the desert where you will be forced to endure the elements.
For beginner Burners, it may be overwhelming to hear about how the Burning Man festival is divided up into camps where you will decidedly spend your week camping and celebrating. And that you should make a decision of which camp you plan to join, prior to entering Black Rock City. With hundreds of camps to choose from, where do you even start?
What is a theme camp?
Camping at a typical festival, you will find thousands of campers and their tents strewn about a field with no rhyme or reason, except that you may be planted next to your mates. This is not the case at Burning Man.
Camps are the festival. Burning Man Organization doesn’t actually provide much more than a theme (2019 was Metamorphoses). The rest is in the hands of the Burners. Thankfully, Burners are dedicated and organized. Theme camps are established months in advanced and officially registered with Burning Man. While yes, camps are where you will go to rest your head in your tent or RV at night, they are also so much more. Theme camps provide community, shelter, inspiration, and entertainment. Theme camps can vary from four to 400 people. Villages, too, exist and are when two or more camps that have joined forces.
While you are not required to join a camp (you can camp in the open camping areas), camps play a huge part in the overall experience. It’s always best to find a camp with interests that align with yours.
With over 1,500 registered camps, it can be a little daunting. Here are a few that spark our fancy.
A collective of Mexican and Californian artists, musicians, designers, craftsmen, and technologists, Mayan Warrior is one of the most iconic Burning Man camps. Their ethos is to bring people together, regardless of borders, backgrounds, or culture, and celebrate as one through music and dance. Known for their legendary art car, wild light shows, and fiercely curated electronic music performances, Mayan Warriors is a camp to which we say “you likely can’t beat them, so you may as well join them!”. Catch electronic artists Unders, Jan Blomqvist, Damian Lazarus, and Bedouin playing sets from sunrise to sunset and beyond.
Brought to you by the one and only Carl Cox, it can only be expected that Playground is a camp of epic proportions. Cox co-founded Playground as a way to give back to the community of Black Rock City and Burning Man, something he holds near and dear. Describing itself as a mirage of good vibes and amazing techno beats, the party on Playground begins as the sun goes down. This year, Playground will have two stages. The Arrival stage starts after dark and goes until sunrise. Catch Carl’s sets on Wednesday and Saturday. The Dune stage begins at dawn and brings the noise until dusk. Don’t miss the Purple Disco Party on the Wednesday.
A large-scale Sound Camp with Arabian desert vibes, the Kazbah turns up the volume as the sun starts to set bringing epic melodic beats to the Playa. Centered around a 48’ Pyramid in which the DJ booth is placed, the desert becomes the dance floor. The structure is designed to be a modern hybrid of the pyramid and obelisk harnessing energy from the cosmos and radiating it to those surrounding. Resident DJs Elz, Halloran, Hef2Def, and Papa Lu will bring the tunes through the Eye of Horus.
Black Rock City spans 7 square miles
(11km2). The Burning Man city is arranged as a series of concentric avenues and
camps, with a diameter of 1.5 miles (2.4km). The Burning Man effigy stands at
the center. In order to navigate the city, most Burners bring along their
bicycles, decorated to the nines. This makes getting around much easier. However,
some of the more crafty types may opt to create an art car, known as mutant
vehicles on the Playa.
A mutant vehicle is a motorized work of art. The vehicle itself must bear very little resemblance to its original form. They are meant to wow and inspire. Think of a pirate ship sailing through the desert or an enormous praying mantis on wheels.
Mutant vehicles have also been known to host some epic dance parties as they make their way through the Playa to different camps. Decked out with mixers and epic sound systems, they are a party on wheels.
Brought to you by the Airpusher Collective, the Airship has been cruising the Playa since 2013. A group of diehard Burners, DJs, and builders, these guys like to turn up the heat with bumping sets and quirky costumes.
How to find camps and cars
As we know, the Playa is vast and there is a hell of a lot going on. It’s best to go with a plan of which camp you are going to seek out. Perhaps it’s even better to contact the organizers of the camp beforehand. On the Burning Man official website, you’ll find a complete directory, alphabetized, with all 1500+ registered camps. Some camps have just provided their names while others have included a description and contact information. To find out the placement of the camps, grab a BRC map once you get to the grounds.
Unless you are a seasoned Burner or have been following the lead up to Burning Man through certain camps’ socials, finding where the Mutant Vehicles will be stationed requires a little more digging. However, thanks to Kate Houston, a.k.a. The Rock Star Librarian, and her Music Guide, you can find out what camps will have tunes, the dates, times, and locations of the sets, whether they are wheelchair accessible, and if they have mutant vehicles. Oh ya, this guide is thorough.
Her list is only inclusive of camps that have requested to be featured, so it is possible there are some camps and cars missing, but it is chalked full of great information.
Groove to disco on BAAAHS the big-ass amazingly homosexual sheep. Jump aboard the Deep Playa Diver mutant submarine bus and move to sounds of Motown. Get into some shenanigans on the Mystic Flyer art bus as it cruises across the Playa. Embrace your inner animal on the Dusty Rhino as breathes fire and beats through BRC.
Light up the night on the galactic cruiser Lucky Star, created by the Gluckstern family of Magic Hour camp. Rock out on Root Society‘s Rolling Root art car or hit up the camp, Root Cathedral, for some of the biggest dance parties on the Playa. Join the eclectic crew aboard The Janky Barge for funky techno beats.
Love animals and dancing? Get animal-friendly on the Dirty Goat Roadhouse. Unicorns are real on the Playa and you can live out your wildest dreams by riding Sparky across the sand. Haven’t gotten your fix of mystical creatures? The Xuza Art Car is otherworldly, from the structure to its music.
Burning Man is a fun and freaky ride. If you’re headed out to the Playa this week, don’t forget to tag us (@electricsoulapp) in your pictures and Stories.
Those outside Manchester may not be privy to the ins and outs of The Warehouse Project. But since 2006, for four months a year, The Warehouse Project has invaded abandoned Manchester venues, made them its own, and thrown epic club nights.
The 2019 season of Warehouse Project kicks off this September 20th. From now until New Year’s Day, 29 events chocked full of electronic musical acts, big and small, will fill the calendars of music lovers across the UK and beyond.
Who is The Warehouse Project?
Back in 2003, best friends Sacha Lord-Marchionne and Sam Kandel, who had been working in a nightclub together for years, decided to throw a party at Boddington’s Brewery, a venue made famous by the cult classic 24 Hour Party People. The guys thought it was a one-time thing until 2006 when they booked not one, but 24 parties. Warehouse Project was born and over 120,000 partygoers marched through the abandoned brewery’s doors that season.
What is The Warehouse Project?
According to Lord, WHP is the “nearest [this generation is] going to come to the illegal warehouse parties that happened in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
And like those warehouse parties, The Warehouse Project has never run like a traditional nightclub. WHP runs seasonally, following the school term. Every weekend, both Friday and Saturday, from September to New Year’s Day, Warehouse Project opens its doors, cranks the bass, and throws epic electronic club nights.
WHP has always been known for hosting big-name DJs and producers, pumping house, techno, trance, and more recently grime. To name drop, Carl Cox, Annie Mac, Pete Tong, De La Soul, and Disclosure, have all hit the decks. But WHP’s greatest service is that it has always had these big names sharing the same stage as less established, up and coming acts.
WHP has picked up a few accolades in its time. In 2007, MixMag named Warehouse Project the UK’s best nightclub and in 2013, it was voted Best Club Series by DJ Mag.
Where is The Warehouse Project?
Since its inception in 2006, The Warehouse Project has taken place in abandoned and disused spaces. In the early years it occupied the abandoned Boddingtons Brewery, then an air raid shelter under Picadilly Station, a car park, and since an abandoned railway station.
Most recently, WHP has occupied the O2 Victoria Warehouse, a former cotton storage facility. But this year, the 2019 season of WHP will grace a new venue, The Depot. Abandoned for over 50 years, this former train station has been gutted and transformed into a dynamic venue, a stone’s throw from the Piccadilly Train Station. Club nights, this season, will flip-flop between the two venues, sometimes two events happening simultaneously at each venue.
When is The Warehouse Project?
Mark your calendars because this season of The Warehouse Project kicks off on Friday, September 20th. With different events happening at each venue, the 2019 season will start with a bang. At The Depot, the party starts at 7 pm and runs until 3 am. The lineup, curated and headlined by Aphex Twin, boasts sets from Nina Kraviz, Aleksi Perälä, Lee Gamble, 33EMYBW, and more. Over at the 02 Victoria Warehouse, Fisher takes the headliner position joined by Franky Rizardo, Mason Collective, Martin Ikin, and Luke Welsh back to back with Mike Morrisey. The party at Victoria Warehouse starts later, at 9 pm, and runs until 4 am.
Even before the season has started, some club nights have sold out.
Annie Mac will curate and headline the Halloween Spectacular on November 2nd with an outrageously long list of electronic heavy hitters. The party will start in the afternoon and run for 11 hours.
The final party of the season happens on New Year’s Day and lasts all day long, keeping partygoers partying from the night before. The lineup has yet to be announced, but in true The Warehouse Project fashion, it won’t be one to disappoint.
Why The Warehouse Project?
As if epic club nights in abandoned venues with lineups that will make your head spin aren’t enough for you, The Warehouse Party is also doing their part to create a safe and welcoming space for all to enjoy.
The Warehouse Project works in collaboration with Think!, a road safety organization that fights against impaired driving on the streets of Britain.
Not only are we sharing one of Hong Kong’s cooler than cool upcoming festivals with you, but we are also giving away two sets of tickets to two lucky Electric Soul community members. Read on to find out how to enter.
Brought to you by creative agency FuFu of Hong Kong and Parisian music and DJ collective La Mamie’s, Shi Fu Miz was birthed from a place of passion for house, techno music, and life-altering experiences. While this festival is about the music, it is also about culture and an overall spirit of well being.
From France to Hong Kong and everywhere in between, Shi Fu Miz is a breeding ground for diversity, sustainability, quality music, and good times. Bringing the bass and beats to the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong, the beaches and lush grasses create the ultimate environment for the three-stage, two-day festival.
What is Shi Fu Miz?
A cool and quaint in its 5th year, SFM has been growing steadily, but we still like to think it as one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets. Unlike the vast majority of festivals these days, SFM is humble; it doesn’t try to be bigger than itself and is more interested in creating meaningful experiences than splurging on big names and flashy attractions. Now a biannual event, this October’s (26th – 27th) will outshine all the rest.
What you’ll get at SFM is a community of people who live and breath music and love discovering new artists while supporting old favorites. You’ll find international names sharing the stage with local acts. And you’ll be immersed in a community that is doing its best to keep its ecological imprint to a minimum so that we can continue to enjoy this festival and island for years to come.
Shi Fu Miz x Boiler Room
What makes this year’s festival even more epic than past seasons is not just the ever-expanding roster of talent and cool activities. On the Sunday afternoon of the festival, the holy grail of underground electronic music, Boiler Room, will be hosting a party. We are so here for this. Boiler Room is legendary for live streaming iconic sets by DJs and electronic producers to an audience of over 3 million.
Boiler Room has made epic strides since its early days of recording sets via webcam. However, it has stayed true to its roots, delivering its community live, uncut, and raw performances by truly talented underground and hype artists.
Rather than stacking the lineup with big names, this SFM x Boiler Room session will make way for Hong Kong heroes including the likes of Utopia, Ocean Lam, Roam Selectors, and K-Melo. Yukari BB from Japan is set to make an appearance and of course festival co-founders La Mamie’s will hit the decks. The five-hour session is guaranteed to get your feet moving.
We want our Electric Soul community to be a part of the magic so we are giving away two sets of two tickets. Head over to our Instagram to enter. We’ll see you on the dancefloor.
With the banning of plastic from all Live Nation’s venues and festivals and a general change in attitudes across the globe, we saw a massive shift in the ecology of music festivals this summer. Inviting tens of thousands of festivalgoers to a green space where they will be eating, drinking, and celebrating is a recipe to produce a bit of rubbish. In the past, festivals have been known to produce tonnes of waste, which was contradicting most of their ethos to create a safe and beautiful atmosphere for their community. Is causing heaps of pollution really what’s best for us?
This awareness sparked a trend. Festivals are going green. While some festivals are veterans of sustainability, we’re happy to see the rest jumping on the bandwagon. These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single-use cup or plastic straw and are likely to stumble across eco-toilets and solar-powered stages. With ultra-dedicated cleanup crews and guiding principles to leave no trace, festivals are stepping up and doing their part to keep our earth clean so we can enjoy the festival season, guilt and pollution-free for years to come.
Check these five super-green festivals making it their mission to leave as small of a carbon footprint as they possibly can.
Shambala – UK
Shambala is a bucket list festivals for so many reasons. Not only does it boast one of the best line-ups of electronic music artists with epic production, dance parties, and activities, it is also one of the most eco-friendly festivals happening.
The grassroots festival in the UK is the gold standard for green initiatives of European festivals. They have reduced their carbon footprint by 80% and are 100% powered by renewable resources; veggie oil, solar panels, and hybrid units.
Shambala has completely eliminated their use of single-use plastics and 80% of recyclables are recycled. All tickets include a £10 “Recycling Deposit” which attendees are refunded once they return their bagged recyclables and other waste upon vacating the campsite.
As Shambala knows that to become completely plastic-free requires the help of their attendees, they have started the conversation of how festivalgoers can do their part by steering clear of glitter, plastic and one-time use costumes, and disposable menstrual products. Although they provide reusable drink cups for purchased beverages, they encourage festivalgoers to bring their own.
Absolutely no fish or meat is served at the festival, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 tonnes, yearly. Vendors are also required to serve only organic dairy products and eggs, local fruits and veg, fairtrade bananas, coffee, and tea, and are restricted from selling Nestle or Coca-Cola products. All food is served on 100% compostable plates. Beer and wine are hyper-local and almost 90% of both are vegan.
Burning Man – USA
Burning Man, the place for radical free spirits and electronic music lovers to go and spend 7 days dancing in the desert, is the epitome of a festival with a conscious.
Burning Man operates on 10 guiding principles, one of which is ‘leave no trace’. Their site details an in-depth guide of how to make your Burn a green one. A lot of sustainability is reliant on the Burners. While the festival takes precautions and provides ways to recycle, compost, and deal with waste, it is up to the attendees to leave the Playa cleaner than when they got there.
Anything that wasn’t on the Playa prior to Burning Man is considered MOOP, or Matter Out Of Place, and MOOP can’t stay. This means no water, waste, debris, or plants can hit the Playa floor. MOOP line sweeps are a regular occurrence and it wouldn’t be odd to see someone vacuuming up their campsite. Recycle Camp is where you can head to hand in all your recyclables. If you have leftover wood or building materials, Burners without Burners is happy to take your donations that will aid them when rebuilding communities that have been hit with a disaster.
Burning Man’s organizers have also released Burning Man Project: 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap, a manifesto on how the festival plans to be completely carbon-negative, ecologically regenerative, and sustainably manage their waste by 2030.
Slovakia’s biggest music event brings all music lovers together. Pohoda Festival is where bass heads and techno junkies can dance their hearts out through the night and listen to mellow alternative and rock during the day.
It is also self-proclaimed Europe’s greenest festival. Winner of the Green Operations Award at the European Festival Awards in 2017 and commended for their green efforts by A Greener Festival in 2018, Pohoda takes a lot of pride in their sustainable initiatives.
Lit by solar energy, the festival partners with local energy providers to plug stages and stands to the main grid, creating a mobile power unit. It calculates each attendee consumes 0.22L of fuel, which is 38% of consumption at a typical festival.
Focussed on proper waste management, there are 17 separation points, a collection of raw materials, and even a spot to separate old toothbrushes. Only reusable cups are used to serve drinks and all plates and utensils are 100% compostable. They’ve even gone as far as to ban festival tents.
Partnering with the national train company, they are doing their part to encourage festivalgoers to travel consciously and suggest rideshares, festival busses, and carpooling (#spolunapohodu). Staff and performers are provided with bicycles so they can get around the grounds greenly.
Northside Festival – Denmark
Northside Festival operates with the mantra “lead the way” and they follow it in all senses from music lineup, production, sustainability, and food served. Kaytranada and Major Lazer were just a few of the epic acts that took the stage this summer.
Since 2017, Northside Festival has been serving 100% organic food, including wine and champagne, while beer is closely following at 94%.
The festival has absolutely no parking for vehicles. This means festivalgoers must walk, bike, or take public transportation to get there. Transport is a huge contributor to emissions at festivals and Northside has completely eliminated this problem.
As Northside is mostly comprised of wooden structures, since 2013 they have launched a fundraiser for Verdens Skove for which they raise money to restore the rainforest and have so far preserved 31.6 hectares of forest. All paper and cardboard materials must be sustainably certified and be sorted and decomposed properly.
Northside Festival has won A Greener Festival award more than once and continues to work to improve all sustainability initiatives.
Wonderfruit – Thailand
In December, for its 6th, year, Wonderfruit will return to Pattaya, Thailand, reimagined as a sustainable pop-up city, completely engrossed in keeping its ecological footprint as small as possible.
The Thai festival is the ultimate destination for electro lovers who want to catch the likes of Acid Pauli, Massive Attack’s Daddy G, and Craig Richards playing on stages consciously crafted by artists who competed to create the most innovative, sustainable and evolved stages possible.
The carbon-neutral festival (certified and all), runs as a pop-up city. They are aware of the detrimental effects traditional festivals can have on the environment and have pledged to combat this. All stages built and art displayed are created with local and sustainable materials including rubbish, bamboo, and hemp. Whenever possible, energy is generated from renewable sources. All food is served on compostable plates and is sourced and grown locally. Single-use plastics are banned. Water is filtered from the natural lakes. Food is composted on-site and over 10,000 mangrove trees have been planted to offset all carbon emissions.
They call their movement and attention to conscious living “Hedonistic Sustainability”. Wonderfruit uses its influential platform to inspire its attendees and others to be more aware of their behaviors and find fun, innovative ways to protect the environment.
Wonderfruit has adopted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and work with initiatives including the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Greenpeace.
If you haven’t heard of Burning Man, pull up a seat. There’s no proper way to prepare someone for the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of this world-renowned festival if they don’t have prior knowledge. It’s certainly a wild ride. This festival is not for the faint of heart. It takes stamina; it takes courage, outrageous outfits, and a whole lot of body paint and love.
August 25th to September 1st, 80,000 ‘Burners’ will take to the deserts of Nevada for a week-long experience of art, music, community, and self-expression. While the saying technically belongs to Las Vegas, we think we can adapt it to “what happens at Burning Man stays at Burning Man” and not because of the outlandishness of the activities but because how can one accurately retell an experience so personal and spiritual without it losing its luster?
So if you’re headed to Burning Man, we’ve got you covered on what to bring, wear, and expect as you embark on this journey. If you’re not, well, check the details and try not to add it to your festival bucket list, because we certainly have.
A Brief History
33 years ago, the first Burning Man was held. While much has changed, it’s principles and core purpose has not.
On the summer solstice of 1986 on San Francisco’s Baker Beach, the festival started as a modest gathering founded by artist, activist, and philanthropist Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James. The organizers brought wooden effigies of a man and small dog to the shores and set them alight. Dubbing the event “Burning Man”, the gathering grew in attendance year after year before it was moved in 1990 to the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, US.
Harvey described his reasoning for burning the wooden man as a statement of radical self-expression. The festival operates on 10 principles: radical inclusion, gifting, radical self-reliance, decommodification, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. Written in 2004 by Harvey, himself, these principles are not meant to control but to reflect the ethos of Burning Man.
Harvey and his five partners successfully ran Burning Man from 1986 to 2013 when it became a non-profit.
Burning Man has run uninterrupted for the past three decades and since 1995, every event has had a unique theme that guides the artwork, events, and festivities. These themes were always personally chosen by Harvey, described in a detailed essay format, until his death in 2018. This year’s festival, themed Metamorphoses, will reflect on the festival’s ability to change participants’ lives and the world.
What to Bring
In line with the principle of self-reliance, you’re going to need to be sufficiently prepared for this 7-day stint in the middle of the desert. There’s no corner convenience store to pop into if you forget an essential. However, there are the principles of communal effort and gifting that some Burners may exercise in an attempt to help you out, but it’s not their responsibility. So, you’re going to want to double-check that packing list.
We’ve got the obvious: ticket, water (1 gallon per person per day), reusable water bottle, and food. And the safety precautions: sunscreen, first aid kit, dust goggles, dust mask, and earplugs. You’ll need camping gear and a lot of it. This includes your tent, tarp, lanterns, mattress, sheets, zip ties, cable ties, bungee cords, cookware, and stove. Many burners opt for RVs to escape the harsh camping climates.
One of the most important principles at Burning Man is leave no trace, and it is strictly enforced. MOOP is an acronym for Matter Out Of Place and refers to anything that was not originally of the land. Anything and everything that is not an original part of the Black Rock City desert can’t stay. This includes glitter, dishwater, shower water, and cigarette butts; anything but the native dust and sand. Bring garbage bags that can act as MOOP bags and make sure you leave the habitat as you found it.
Random items that may come in handy when at Burning Man are utility knives, notepad and pen, trinkets (remember the gifting principle), walkie-talkies, headlamps, vinegar (to treat ‘Playa foot’, chemical burns caused by the alkali in the desert sands), a bike, vacuum (MOOP be gone!), and hand sanitizer.
What to Wear
Literally, anything goes. Burning Man is known for festivalgoers in extravagant costumes and wearable art. Radical self-expression, remember? You’re bound to find a lot of leather, fur, feathers, glitter, masks, stilts, and tutus. You can dress to your wildest dreams.
There are, however, some practical clothing items you shouldn’t leave home without. Remember the Playa is a desert and conditions are extreme. You’re going to want to leave the labels at home and opt for some functional clothing. Layers are essential. While daytime temperatures will soar, nighttime temperatures plummet. You need to be prepared for both extremes.
Dust storms and whiteouts are frequent and not pleasant. Protect yourself from dust and sand with goggles, masks, and bandanas. Rain also happens. Don’t forget your wet weather gear.
Days are long and you’ll be trudging through the sand so comfortable and practical shoes are a must. However, flip-flops and sandals are convenient for midnight trips to the loo.
Who will be there
Expect 80,000 new best friends. But aside from the Burners, Burning Man has a stacked lineup of electronic music artists that keep the party going and the vibes high.
Since 1992, electronic music and DJs have been the main source of music at Burning Man. As Black Rock City functions as a temporary city with different areas describes as camps, regulations on noise have been put in place as to not to disturb Burners trying to experience a spiritual awakening or focus on the art. Thus sound camps were formed where ravers, groovers, and shakers can radically self-express through music and quirky dance moves.
Some well-known sound camps with a reputation of returning year after year and delivering epic beats are Playground co-founded by Carl Cox, Disco Knights brought to you by the guys behind Green Gorilla Lounge, Kazbah, Symposium, Kalliope, and Deep Playa Music Zone (DMZ).
While Burning Man doesn’t have an official lineup, artists who have confirmed that they will be making an appearance are Carl Cox, Pauli Pocket, Diplo, Lee Foss, Unders, Amine K, Amare, Carlita, Franca, and Scalar Theorem. You’ll find these artists performing at various camps across Black Rock City, on epic stages, and some even performing their set on mutant vehicles.
To all the Burners hitting BRC in the upcoming weeks, be safe, be yourself, and best of luck!
Still want to squeeze in one (or) more festival this year? Check out our list of upcoming festivals you won’t want to miss.
And another one bites the dust. Just 16 days before the legendary Woodstock festival was set to kick off its 50th-year celebration, it imploded.
The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival was built upon the ideas of hope and protest. In 1969, the USA was deep in the Vietnam War and Woodstock was intended to be a political movement with a strong anti-war message. Over 500,000 people from all over American, from all walks of life, to share a weekend of unity and music. This gathering was intended to illustrate the contrast of the war and hatred in Vietnam and the peace and love that could be.
Big names like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Santana took to the stage to unify the American public and bring peace, love, and music. It’s no wonder that the original founders wanted to bring that back to America in this time of uncertainty and unrest.
A muddy past
This isn’t the first revival of Woodstock that has run amuck. Woodstock ’94 was dubbed Mudstock after the rainy weather turned the festival grounds to a slippery mud bath. Woodstock 1999 turned violent with several allegations of sexual assault, rape, looting, and fires. Perhaps this year’s reincarnation ending before it could happen was a good thing.
Famous for the wrong reasons
The official cancellation of the festival on July 31st didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Since the festival was announced early this year, it has gotten a fair amount of publicity, and not the good kind. Headlines have suggested financial and legal troubles, artists dropping out left, right, and center, no ticket sales, location changes, and its possible cancellation.
allegations, festival co-founder Michael Lang continued to show unwavering
confidence in the festival.
The festival’s lineup was officially announced on March 19th. Big names from today’s music scene including Jay Z, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, The Black Keys, and the Killers shared the bill with original Woodstock artist Santana and other acts of the era like John Fogerty and Canned Heat. This festival would unify generations of music. Tickets were set to go on sale online Aprill 22nd.
Red flags everywhere
Even before ticket sales had commenced, red flags started to rise. Talk of the festival not having obtained permits for their intended location of Watkins Glen, New York, started to raise suspicion of its legitimacy. On April 5th, The Black Keys suddenly dropped out of the festival due to “scheduling conflicts”. And just three days before tickets were set to go on sale, an email was sent out to artists’ agents announcing the postponement of ticket sales.
That’s when things started to get a whole lot more confusing and messy. Woodstock investor group and partner Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live made claims of missed production deadlines, trouble securing talent, and major infrastructure issues, finally stating “As a result and after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival…As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”
No money, no problem?
So it’s over right? Not quite. Woodstock 50 quickly hopped on the mic to discredit this cancellation, claiming legal action would be taken against the comment. “We are committed to ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is marked with a festival deserving of its iconic name and place in American history and culture. Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will, of course, be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners.”
It’s now May
and the festival has no secure location, no ticket sales, and its major
investor has dropped out voiding all contracts of artists scheduled to perform.
A media frenzy ensues along with a legal battle between Lang and Dentsu.
The court adjourned ruling in favor of both sides. The show would go on but Dentsu owes Woodstock nothing. Investor Oppenheimer & Co. jumps aboard the Woodstock 50 train to help finance the festival. However, the partnership doesn’t seem to pull Woodstock out of the hole as Lang appeals the previous ruling between him and Dentsu demanding a return of $18 million.
It just gets worse…
Press on the festival dies down momentarily until June 11th when Watkins Glen rescinds the festival’s site license leaving the festival homeless. Simultaneously, CID Entertainment, meant to produce the event, pulls out, and the Department of Health rejects the permit application.
seemed like this was the end, but the Woodstock 50 crew presses on. Organizers
apply to hold the festival at Vernon Downs racetrack. With a capacity for
45,000, this location change would bring the attendance goal down by 100,000
people. But let’s not forget, no tickets have been sold as of yet and as anyone
could’ve predicted, the permit was denied.
Change of scenery
We are one month out from the festival. With no location, confirmed artists, or tickets sales, the chance of Woodstock happening is slim. But this festival has the resilience of the New York City cockroach. On July 25th, The New York Times announces “Woodstock 50 Festival is saved!”. Crossing stateliness into Maryland, the Merriweather Post Pavilion becomes the new festival site.
This is when artists start to drop out. Jay Z, John Fogarty, and Miley Cyrus made clean escapes followed by The Lumineers, Santana, Dead & Company, and the lot. Following these announcements, Woodstock 50 became a free show, asking patrons to make a donation to charity instead. Now a benefit concert, as of July 27th still no artists are confirmed to play.
The show must go on
The once three-day, glamping festival with an attendance goal of over 150,000 will now take place in Maryland as a one-day benefit concert. All artists, save Imagine Dragons, the Zombies, and The Killers have pulled out. But it’s July 30th and Woodstock 50 refuses to back down…until the next day.
In an official statement on July 31st, Michael Lang and Woodstock 50 finally accept defeat. “We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating.” They asked any artists who had already received payment to donate 10% of that to musical charity HeadCount or another charity of their choosing.
It’s hard not to point out all the reasons why Woodstock 50 was just not meant to happen. The original festival, a movement and protest, was built on good nature and a keen desire for a better, more peaceful future. Stages were low key, the focus was on the music and not the production. In the spirit on the event, artist’s pricetags were slashed significantly and sheer attendance numbers left the organizers with no choice but to make it a free event.
Times have changed and corporate greed is alive and well. Although most performers were not confirmed, it’s safe to say that Jay Z wasn’t performing for the mere $18,000 (equivalent to approx. $120,000 today) headliner Jimmy Hendrix played for in 1969. But it’s not just the artists’ greed, it’s what we expect from a festival in this day and age. We aren’t satisfied with subpar production and a lack of miscellaneous activities to keep us entertained. We want what we pay for. And Woodstock 50 couldn’t deliver.
The last attempt to save the festival was to make it free. Not because of the overwhelming crowds, but the complete opposite. Sometimes, we just need to let a good thing die. Times, they are a-changin’; for better or worse, we’ll leave that to you.
Looking for more music festival fails? Find out what happened to Belgium’s VestiVille earlier this summer.