Editorial: A Good Ol’ Festival Rant

It does seem, a little bit, like the same bands are popping up at alot of these festivals. I mean, could the Flaming Lips please take one off? They have played, among others, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Langerado, The Virgin Festival, Coachella, the Monolith Festival, the Sasquatch Festival, all in the last few years … I mean how many times does Wayne Coyne need to walk in a giant bubble over a festival crowd?

We all enjoy a good political rant but even Michael Franti has to be running out of things to say at this point.

And this year, it seems like Snoop Dogg, who was just announced as part of the Camp Bisco line-up, is the newest festival darling having been booked to played Rothbury in July, and several other festivals worldwide over the last few years.

Very few bands go the route of Phish, which held its own festival in the summers of 1996 (The Clifford Ball), 1997 (The Great Went), 1998 (The Lemonwheel), 1999 (Oswego) and 2003 (IT) and of course the giant
Millenium celebration at Big Cypress to end 1999. All those festivals drew huge crowds with one musical act – Phish. Moe. (moe.down) and the Disco Biscuits (Camp Bisco) have taken that idea and altered it a little adding other bands and staging kookie stunts and collaborations to their annual gatherings. Perhaps no current band is as confident in its fan base as Phish was when they carried the musical torch of a weekend music festival all by themselves hours from any major city or airport.

San Francisco’s recently announced Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival boasts some huge names. Radiohead, Tom Petty, Wilco, Beck and Widespread Panic are all bands that sellout venues and draw huge crowds on their own. But they want that festival feel – 80,000 people standing for 12 hours in the sun soaking in hour after hour of music while downing microbrew after microbrew. On the right day, there is nothing better. Except that unique chance to see artists that would hardly be in the same room together on the same stage together. And it doesn’t happen enough.

So as a reward to these dedicated fans, who spend hundreds of dollars to attend festivals from coast to coast, it would be nice to see some interesting collaborations among the bigger name acts. Let’s see Beck join Wilco for a song or two in San Francisco. Let’s see Eddie Vedder step on stage with My Morning Jacket at Bonnaroo. And please, let’s see someone else in Wayne Coyne’s giant bubble.

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13 Responses

  1. michael franti does not exist outside of festival season, and for that i am very thankful.


  2. Don’t forget Leftover Salmon. They were one of the originators of the festival revival. Their “fester in lester” was one of the best around.

  3. nice words. fully agreed.

    b’roo’s first years had some great collaborations.

    but it seems that festivals are so abound anymore, many artists can’t or don’t stay the entire weekend and hang.

    they’re on a jet headed to some other heady joint.

    Let’s see some throwdowns of serious magnitude.
    great piece!

  4. Every band should be mandated by law to attend Telluride Bluegrass before playing a festival. Nothing else is even close.

  5. “Let’s see Beck join Wilco for a song or two in San Francisco. Let’s see Eddie Vedder step on stage with My Morning Jacket at Bonnaroo. And please, let’s see someone else in Wayne Coyne’s giant bubble.”
    exactly. those of us at the first bonnaroo in ’02 remember collaborations with claypool, galacic, moe., string cheese…warren (govt mule) was everwhere, as was DJ Logic. it seemed like the musicians actually liked each other, as if it was a community. awesome. Lets put DJ Logic in the bubble- now thats an idea.

  6. What Rupert said!! Plus, here’s one person who does NOT want to be in a crowd of 80,000 for music because that is NOT a proper environment for a musical experience. Plus, you’re then in an environment where those put their priority on getting wasted as humanly possible. I’ve BEEN there…many times over.

    Smaller festivals such as Rockygrass, Grand Targhee, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, Pagosa Springs Folk Festival and Camp Creek not only give you that genuine musical *and* festival experience, you can often wind up mingling with artists, picking with folks and opening your mind up to new activities.
    One major key word is INTIMACY…that is what you just can’t get at a large-scale stadium-sized festival.

  7. nobody did it better than phish… i’m not sure if i feel that diverse festivals are better than a single genre like telluride. with diversity comes mainstreamedness. not always a good thing in music. like when metallica did lollapallooza.

  8. Although I agree that festivals are a nice way to get a taste of many different artists I wouldn’t have normally seen or heard of (ironically MMJ being on of them) I don’t really have fond memories of the last Phish hurrah plagued with 24 hour lines to get in and ONE freakin’ entrance into a cesspool of mudd/feces sludge.

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