posted on: Thursday January 17, 2019
by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff
Fresh off the recent winter holiday season, music fans from around the country are prepping for another festive season that is fast approaching. Much like the winter holidays, this upcoming season is centered around big names, large gatherings, and the sharing of food and music. This season, of course, is festival season.
Set to take place during the late spring through mid-summer months, many of the country’s major music festivals took to social media over the course of the past couple of weeks to announce their lineups for 2019. People flocked to media websites to share their thoughts and opinions on the headlining artists.
Many big-name festivals such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, The Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and Firefly featured equally as big name artists to fill the headlining slots. This slew of artists ranges from pop sensation Ariana Grande, to rap superstar Travis Scott, to the genre-bending Childish Gambino. Other top slots were allotted to the likes of Tame Impala, The Strokes, The 1975, Post Malone, and other musicians that have made a splash over the past year or so.
The remainder of the acts following the headliners feature a plethora of artists from a range of genres, as each festival attempts to create the broadest-ranging appeal that it can. Ranging from DJ acts like Diplo and Gesaffelstein, to the hard-hitting hip-hop of Sheck Wes and YG, to the punk of Turnstile and the funk of The Internet, there seems to be something for every music fan at these auditory galas.
However, Larry Fitzmaurice of Vulture Magazine brings up an interesting point in his article “Where Do Music Festivals Go Now?” To start this article, Fitzmaurice remarks that “Over the next few years, we’re likely to bear witness to fond remembrances and supersized celebrations as some of the biggest North American music festivals achieve a point of longevity meriting acknowledgement.”
Fitzmaurice makes a valid point here, as the festival fever that has become ingrained in American musical culture in recent years is still a young phenomenon. While outliers like Woodstock in 1969 prove that this idea is not wholly new, the American festival giants like Coachella have only been in existence for roughly 20 years. Boston Calling, one of the most up-and-coming music festivals in the nation, is celebrating only its 10th event in existence this May.
With the proliferation of festivals around the country as the years go on, the question now becomes not if these music-centered ventures will continue to expand, but how they will seek to distinguish themselves as unique and sustainable. Fitzmaurice writes, “It’s worth thinking beyond the increasing sameness across lineups and experiences, instead considering whether, in 20 years’ more time, there will be enough festivals in existence to resemble each other at all.”
How can the Bonnaroos and Fireflys and Coachellas move beyond demanding and cementing relevance, and on to creating a permanent place in American culture? Can these festivals create a lasting niche in our society, or will they become bland and fizzle out with time? Only time will tell if musical festivals in the United States will stand the test of time.