Woodstock 50 Festival Has Been Officially Once and For All Finally Cancelled - Co-Founder Michael Lang Issues Statement | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, December 12th, 2019  

Woodstock 50 Festival Has Been Officially Once and For All Finally Cancelled

Co-Founder Michael Lang Issues Statement

Jul 31, 2019
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Woodstock 50 has been cancelled... again. But this time it is for real, officially, once and for all, finally cancelled. Co-founder Michael Lang has issued a statement saying as much. "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," said Lang (the full statement is below). This was after a last ditch attempt to move the festival to Baltimore and make it a free event has failed.

The festival was announced back in March and was scheduled to take place August 16-18 in Watkins Glen, NY, with a lineup that included Courtney Barnett, boygenius, Jay-Z, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Santana, Soccer Mommy, The Raconteurs, Run the Jewels, Janelle Monáe, and many others. But its initial cancellation was announced in April by Dentsu Aegis Network, which was funding the festival and pulled out due to concerns about obtaining permits, over-capacity, side readiness, and other issues. Lang, co-founder and producer of the 1969 Woodstock festival (as well as the less iconic 1994 and 1999 versions), shot back that it wasn't up to Dentsu Aegis Network to cancel the festival and that the event was still on.

The saga, which has been covered extensively on various other websites, involved Lang attempting to find new financial backers, new production partners, and a new location. When the festival encountered more issues at their second location, Vernon Downs, where permits were denied multiple times, despite various appeals, the event was finally moved to Merriweather Post Pavilion, outside Baltimore and not far from Washington, D.C. The new intention was for it to be a free event, with attendees encouraged to donate money to charity. The problem was that the artists had all already been paid and since the new venue was hundreds of miles away in a whole different state, their contracts were now void, meaning they didn't have to play and could still keep the money. Also, no doubt many artists had logistical issues preventing them from playing in a new location, when they had touring schedules that routed them through Watkins Glen and not Baltimore. In the last week various artists have announced that they wouldn't be playing the new event.

Luckily, tickets never went on sale, so there will be no issues with fans attempting to get refunds. The main losers here are Lang and his team, who tried everything they could to pull this off, and probably should've given up many months ago. There's always Woodstock 75, in 2044, although Lang will turn 100 that year. Still, we wouldn't be surprised if he tried to pull it off if he's still around. Perhaps it'll be held on the moon or Mars.

Lang has issued this statement about the cancellation: "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. When we lost the Glen and then Vernon Downs we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel. We formed a collaboration with HeadCount to do a smaller event at the Merriweather Pavilion to raise funds for them to get out the vote and for certain NGOs involved in fighting climate change. We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons. I would like to encourage artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10% of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace. Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount's critical mission to get out the vote before the next election. We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity. My thoughts turn to Bethel and its celebration of our 50th Anniversary to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock."

Greg Peck, principal of Woodstock 50 also issued this statement: "The unfortunate dispute with our financial partner and the resulting legal proceedings set us off course at a critical juncture, throwing a wrench in our plans and forcing us to find an alternate venue to Watkins Glen. The timing meant we had few choices where our artists would be able to perform. We worked hard to find a way to produce a proper tribute-and some great artists came aboard over the last week to support Woodstock 50 - but time simply ran short. We are greatly disappointed and thank all of our supporters, including the team at Merriweather Post Pavilion and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. Woodstock's values of peace and tolerance are more important today than ever for all of us to stand for and we look to the future for ways to honor and celebrate these ideals."

Seth Hurwitz of I.M.P. and operator of Merriweather Post had this to add: "While we were able to quickly eliminate the venue portion of the challenge to present Woodstock, it was just too late in the game. Hopefully, with plenty of time to prepare, Merriweather will become the site of a future festival that captures the original vibe. A lot of people clearly wanted it to happen."

The last time there was a Woodstock festival was in 1999, to commemorate the original festival's 30th anniversary, and it didn't go so well, with reports of gang rapes, property destruction, violence, and fires, not to mention a fairly terrible lineup featuring Korn, Limp Bizkit, Bush, Kid Rock, Creed, and others.

The weekend of August 16-18 there is another festival, Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, on the original grounds of Woodstock. It's set to feature musical performances (including Santana, The Doobie Brothers, Ringo Starr, and The Edgar Winter Band), as well as TED-style talks, and seems thus far to be a more low-key event.

(Via Variety)

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