It was dubbed the “homecoming” of 2019. After 50 years since the launch of Woodstock, the famed music festival that ended in 1999 following violent riots was to be revived with a spectacular lineup of artists and performances. Aptly titled ‘Woodstock 50‘, the event was first announced in early January but after a series of mishaps, law suits and venue changes, it is beginning to appear more reminiscent to the spectacular failure of the 2017 Fyre Festival.
Set to bring in the young and old with a set list including Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z as well as over 70 musicians, the event held on August 16 – 18 is still going ahead according to organisers. But with less than 40 days until it kicks off and no tickets on sale, the highly-anticipated event is looking dire.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to see the event go ahead but following shaky financial issues as well as a last minute venue change, it is looking unlikely.
So what unhinged the entire operation?
january – woodstock 50 is announced
In early January, Michael Lang the original organiser of Woodstock announced that the three-day festival would return in August. Located at Watkins Glen in New York, it was expected to bring in 150,000 guests and rumours had begun to circle as to what artists would appear.
March – lineup is released but ticket sales were postponed
All appeared to be on track several months later when the festival announced its impressive lineup. Tickets were set to go on sale in the weeks prior but when the first release of passes was postponed, it quickly appeared that something was wrong.
april – head investors announce cancellation
From late April, the event had begun to unravel as head investor of the festival and public relations agency, Dentsu Inc., announced that Woodstock 50 would not go ahead. The Japanese company said in a statement that, “we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.”
Michael Lang quickly responded to concerned fans in a contradictory statement denying the allegations and that “legal remedy will (be) sought”. Launching a law suit against the investor for a reported $17.8 million, Woodstock 50 executives later lost the court battle.
MAY – NEW INVESTOR SECURED
It was the news that gave us all hope. After Woodstock 50 had sent out several pitches for a new investor, it was announced in mid-May that Debt Capital Markets & Syndication at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc would fund the festival. Confirming that the event would indeed go ahead, all appeared to be on track but no one could predict what would happen next.
JULY – VENUE CHANGE AND CONCERNS FROM OFFICIALS
While financial issues are still on shaky ground, reports surfaced last week revealing a last minute change in venue. The original site, Watkins Glen, cancelled the ‘mass gathering’ permit and forced the event organisers to find a new venue. Scaling down the festival from an expected 150,000 to 50,000, Woodstock 50 is now scheduled to appear at Vernon Downs, roughly 150km from its original destination.
According to Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, hosting such a large event will “pose a significant challenge” to ensure the health and safety of residents and concert goers.
As it stands, Woodstock 50 is still insisting it will go ahead but with less than 40 days until the event, only time will tell. Stay tuned.