Woodstock 50

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Woodstock 50
A poster listing the artists with a stylized dove resting on a globe
DatesAugust 16–18, 2019
Location(s)Watkins Glen, New York, U.S.
Founded byMichael Lang
Websitewoodstock.com

Woodstock 50 is a planned music festival, scheduled to be held in Watkins Glen, New York, during August 16–18, 2019. The event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, a landmark festival held in August 15–17, 1969 in Bethel, New York.

Artists announced for the Woodstock 50 lineup include Jay-Z, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, Miley Cyrus, Robert Plant, The Raconteurs, Cage the Elephant and Janelle Monáe, as well as several musical acts that had performed at the original 1969 festival, such as Dead & Company (featuring three members of the Grateful Dead), Santana, David Crosby, Melanie, John Sebastian, John Fogerty, Hot Tuna, Canned Heat and Country Joe McDonald.[1]

Though Woodstock 50 and its lineup have been officially announced, tickets were not released for sale on a previously scheduled date, and are still unavailable.[2] In late April 2019, a financial backer of the festival claimed that it had been canceled, but that proclamation has been disputed by its organizers.[3] Subsequently, there have been conflicting media reports ranging from allegations of financial and legal difficulties to outright cancellation to an inability to secure proper permits from local officials, which have spelled an uncertain future for the festival. In May, a judge ruled that the financiers had no right to cancel the festival, allowing the event to proceed as planned.[4]

Background[edit]

Woodstock's co-creator, Michael Lang, helped organize Woodstock 50.[5] In January 2019, Lang confirmed that he would be organizing a fourth three-day Woodstock festival that August at Watkins Glen.[6] The festival's lineup was announced on March 19, 2019.[7] The Black Keys were announced as part of the lineup, but pulled out of the festival on April 5.[8] Joan Baez told Rolling Stone that she had been approached to perform at the festival, but had turned the offer down.[9] Lang had initially sought Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and a reunited Led Zeppelin as headlining performers at the festival, but with the exception of Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, none of those artists appeared in Woodstock 50's final lineup.[10]

The Watkins Glen International racetrack was selected as the location of the festival.[11] The site had previously hosted three other large music festivals: Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973 and two multi-day concerts organized by the jam band Phish in 2011 and 2015.[11] In August 2018, a third Phish festival scheduled to be held at the racetrack was canceled by New York Department of Health officials, one day before it was scheduled to begin, due to water quality and safety issues at the site following several days of flooding in the Finger Lakes region.[12][13] Lang said he planned for a separate water supply to be brought into the Woodstock 50 site in order to avoid the issues Phish had experienced.[14] Billboard reported that promoters and agents for musical acts had tried to persuade Lang to seek another venue other than Watkins Glen because the site was too far away from large hotels and was seen as a risky location to hold a festival following the circumstances of Phish's cancellation the previous year.[10]

A second Woodstock 50th anniversary concert, to be held at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the site of the original 1969 festival, is also scheduled for August 2019. The concert's lineup is scheduled to feature John Fogerty and Santana, both of whom are included in the Woodstock 50 lineup, as well as Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, Edgar Winter and The Doobie Brothers.[15] Lang is not involved with the Bethel concert and filed a cease-and-desist notice against its organizer, Live Nation, for promoting it as a rival event to his Woodstock 50 festival.[16]

Cancellation controversy[edit]

Tickets for the Woodstock 50 festival were supposed to go on sale on April 22, 2019, but no tickets were made available on that date.[2] As of that date, the organizers had yet to receive a mass gathering permit from the New York State Department of Health.[17]

On April 29, 2019, investors Dentsu Aegis Network, who had been funding the festival through their subsidiary Amplifi Live, announced that it was no longer funding the music festival and therefore that the event has been canceled.[18] Officials from Schuyler County, New York also confirmed the cancellation.[3] Dentsu Aegis ceased its involvement after the organizers reduced the capacity for the festival grounds from 100,000 people to 75,000 in order to accommodate campers, after initially promising the company a crowd of 150,000.[19] Later that day, the organizers of the festival disputed the cancellation in a statement to the Poughkeepsie Journal and announced they would be seeking a "legal remedy".[20] On the same day, Lang stated on his Facebook page that, despite the loss of their financial backer, the Woodstock organizers would continue to plan the festival and look for new investors. Therefore, the festival is not canceled and will still be held as planned.[nb 1][21] On May 1, Superfly, a production partner of the Woodstock organizers, also pulled out of the festival.[22] Superfly also cited changes to the festival's capacity as a reason for ceasing involvement with Woodstock 50.[10]

As result of Dentsu Aegis backing out of the festival, none of the artists on the lineup were obligated to play at the event, because they had all made payment agreements through either Dentsu itself or its Amplifi Live subsidiary and not the Woodstock promoters.[19][23] Representatives from two major talent agencies told Billboard that Dentsu Aegis' decision voided the artists' contracts, and it was unlikely their clients would be performing at the festival.[23] Following the company's announcement, Dead & Company removed Woodstock 50 from the tour itinerary on their website.[24] John Fogerty told Rolling Stone that he was disappointed by the announcement and surprised that the festival had not secured permits sooner, noting "You got the sense there was some shakiness to this whole thing."[25]

On May 6, Billboard reported that CID Entertainment would be producing the festival, but Lang would reportedly need about $30 million by May 10 and a mass gathering permit from the New York Department of Heath for the event to proceed.[26] Lang also accused Dentsu Aegis of illegally removing $17 million from the festival's bank account, blocking the April 22 ticket sale and attempting to cancel the event without his consent.[27] On May 9, lawyers for the Woodstock organizers requested an injunction against Dentsu Aegis in a New York court seeking the return of the disputed $17 million. [28] On May 13, Dentsu Aegis' Amplifi Live subsidiary filed a counter-claim against Lang, in which the company argued that they had the right to take over the festival and cancel the event due to contractual breaches and logistical misrepresentation on Lang's part.[29]

On May 15, a judge in New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Woodstock organizers and found that Dentsu Aegis had no legal right to cancel the festival, allowing the event to proceed.[4] However, the judge also ruled that the organizers were not entitled to the $17.8 million that had been removed from the festival's bank account.[4] On May 17, Oppenheimer Holdings was announced as the new financial backer for the festival.[30]

To date, tickets are still not available to purchase following the postponement of the on-sale date. Following the court ruling, Lang announced that three-day passes to the festival would be around $400 with limited single-day passes available, a change from earlier plans in which only three-day passes would have been made available.[31] A mass gathering permit for the festival was submitted on April 15, but has yet to be approved by the New York Department of Health.[31]

Line-up[edit]

August 16[edit]

August 17[edit]

August 18[edit]

The Black Keys were scheduled to play on August 17, but canceled due to scheduling conflicts.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Lang: "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. We would like to acknowledge the State of New York and Schuyler County for all of their hard work and support. The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast!"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel (March 19, 2019). "Woodstock 50 Details Full Lineup With Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Killers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (April 29, 2019). "Woodstock 50's Backer Says the Festival Is Off. Its Promoter Is Holding Out Hope". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kaur, Harmeet. "The Woodstock 50 festival might be canceled, but also it might not be". CNN. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Browne, David (May 15, 2019). "Woodstock 50: The Show Will Go On, But New Funding Needed". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  5. ^ Fekadu, Mesfin (March 7, 2019). "Festival co-founder: Lineup for Woodstock 50 coming soon". AP News.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (January 9, 2019). "Three-Day Woodstock Festival From Original Organizer Coming This Summer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Kreps, Daniel (March 19, 2019). "Woodstock 50 Details Full Lineup With Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Killers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Young, Alex (April 5, 2019). "The Black Keys pull out of Woodstock". Consequence of Sound.
  9. ^ Greene, Andy (April 30, 2019). "Joan Baez Reflects on the End of Her Farewell Tour and What's Next". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Brooks, Dave (May 10, 2019). "How Infighting and Delays Caused Woodstock 50 to Come Unwound". Billboard. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Barry, John W. "Watkins Glen International to host Woodstock anniversary show in August". The Poughkeepsie Journal. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "Phish festival Curveball at Watkins Glen canceled over health concerns". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "Watkins Glen official: 'This whole valley kind of cleaned itself and went into Seneca Lake'". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  14. ^ Herbert, Geoff (March 25, 2019). "Exclusive: How Woodstock 50 lineup was chosen, and how Watkins Glen won't repeat '99 disaster". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  15. ^ Herbert, Geoff (April 25, 2019). "Bethel Woods finalizes Woodstock anniversary weekend lineup". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Urken, Ross. "Woodstock Backers Hope to Export Brand to Other Countries". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  17. ^ "Woodstock 50 Ticket Sales Delayed as Organizers Lack Required Permit". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  18. ^ "Woodstock Organizers Cancel 50th Anniversary Festival". Billboard. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Herbert, Geoff (May 2, 2019). "Woodstock 50 artists won't perform; organizer hires Trump attorney (reports)". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  20. ^ "Has Woodstock 50 been canceled? Organizers argue over status". The Poughkeepsie Journal. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  21. ^ "Woodstock 50 Organizer Michael Lang Says Festival Not Canceled". JamBase. April 30, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  22. ^ Grow, Kory (May 1, 2019). "Woodstock 50 Loses Production Partner Superfly, Putting Festival in Jeopardy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Woodstock Founder Michael Lang Vows Show Will Go On -- But Talent Agencies Say Artists Won't Play". Billboard. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  24. ^ "John Fogerty Talks Woodstock 50 Potential Cancellation". JamBase. April 30, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  25. ^ Browne, David (April 30, 2019). "John Fogerty on Woodstock 50: 'There Was Some Shakiness to This Whole Thing'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  26. ^ "To Save Woodstock 50, Michael Lang Plans to Raise $30M by Friday". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  27. ^ Willman, Chris (May 6, 2019). "Woodstock Founder Says Japanese Investors Siphoned $17 Million, Sinking Festival". Variety. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  28. ^ Browne, David; Grow, Kory (May 10, 2019). "Woodstock 50's Last Stand: 6 Key Things We Learned From New Court Papers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  29. ^ Grow, Kory (May 13, 2019). "'Incompetence and Contractual Breaches.' Dentsu Fires Back at Woodstock Organizers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  30. ^ Bloom, Madison. "Woodstock 50 Gets New Investors". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  31. ^ a b Herbert, Geoff (May 17, 2019). "Woodstock 50 tickets will be less than $400, organizer now says". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 17, 2019.

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