The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Edited by George McKay

The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture

Published by Bloomsbury

Jun 29, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In addition to its stellar 33 1/3 series, Bloomsbury publishes some of the best academic writing about music that one will read. In The Pop Festival, the music festival is put under the scholarly microscope in 14 separate essays, all punctiliously annotated and referenced. Each essay is written by a scholar in his or her field and takes on a particular aspect of the “festival,” in all its different iterations. George McKay, who also functions as the book’s editor, pens a document about the music festival’s roots in 1950s Britain. Gina Arnold discusses 1972’s Wattstax festival, critically examining the Los Angeles R+B event in terms of demographic and both comparing and contrasting Wattstax with Woodstock. Alice O’Grady takes on psytrance, while Ann Dvinge discusses the urban environment, specifically as it relates to the Detroit Jazz Festival. Chris Anderton examines corporate sponsorship, and Rebekka Kill tackles how visual art is incorporated into the music festival ecology.

By its nature, The Pop Festival is not for the casual music fan. This is academic writing and The Pop Festival reads like one is reading journal articles, which essentially one is. But the book provides valuable insight into the counter-culture beast that has been and is the music festival. Reading might not be as free and easy as a day at Woodstock, but through careful reading one will find reward. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Susan Walters
June 30th 2015

I rarely see academic writing about music, but in case it`s the collection of 14 separate essay, it would be interesting to read.