There’s certainly been no lack of viral leaks and frenetic speculation over Woodstock‘s 50th anniversary celebration. From the ashes of that controversy, two separate celebrations have now officially emerged on the same weekend, August 16-18.
On one side is the high-powered commercial venture associated with Live Nation, Bethel Woods Music & Arts Festival. The event is set to take place on the original Woodstock grounds that also played host to MysteryLand’s US iteration a few years back.
On the other side is an independently-curated celebration associated with Woodstock Ventures, LLC. The company, which hosted the original Woodstock Festival in 1969, is owned by event producer and Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang. Now Lang has revealed some vital details over the “authentic” Woodstock 50th anniversary gathering.
The three day event is set to take place in nearby Watkins Glen, New York. Plus, it will boast the Woodstock banner. Lang spoke rather candidly to the event’s details to Rolling Stone Magazine, which ran an in-depth coverage piece answering a lot of folks questions.
Woodstock ’99 was just a musical experience with no social significance,” Michael Lang says of Woodstock 30. “It was just a big party. With this one, we’re going back to our roots and our original intent. And this time around, we’ll have control of everything.”
Lang dismissed Woodstock ’99 as an “MTV event,” hinting to a lot of big wigs shooting down his ideas for booking and better sustainability, e.g. water and sanitation. So he hopes to instill Woodstock’s 50th anniversary with the same socio-cultural and political activist sentiments from the original festival in 1969. One major issue for Lang and company is combating the effects climate change.
“Things on the planet are critical at this point, especially when it comes to global warming,” says Lang. “Everyone has a stake and ignoring it is ridiculous. I really want people to explore how they can get involved. That’s one of my main motivations for doing this.”
Various non-governmental organizations will be on site to inform attendees how to get involved in various political issues effecting us today. The goal for Lang is to bring “energy back into young people to make their voices heard, make their votes heard.”
Woodstock, in its original incarnation, was really about social change and activism,” Lang adds. “And that’s a model that we’re bringing back to this festival.”
Looking back twenty years later, Lang is taking stock of the mistakes made with Woodstock ’99 to steer things in a different direction for Woodstock’s golden year. “I shouldn’t have left the booking to others,” he admits, noting that being fully independent this time around gave organizers much more autonomy.
As for the line-up, organizers won’t be announcing specifics until tickets go on sale in February, but there’s already over 40 booked acts across Woodstock’s three stages, including some heavy weight headliners. “It’ll be an eclectic bill,” Lang says. “It’ll be hip-hop and rock and some pop and some of the legacy bands from the original festival.”
Speaking to Woodstock ’94, Lang was extremely fond of his 25th anniversary’s melting pot vibe between young and old audiences. “[T]hat’s kind of what we’re going for here.” says Lang. “I want it to be multi-generational.”
Without delving into too many specifics, Lang did reveal that “newer bands” and “up-and-coming talent” will stage tribute performances, special collaborations, and “maybe some reunions” to original Woodstock performers, including Janis Joplin, the Band, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, and the like. “Having contemporary artists interpret that music would be a really interesting and exciting idea,” he says.
Lang also spoke to fact that Woodstock 50 won’t be hosted on its original grounds, tipping his hat to Bethel Woods: “They’re good stewards of the original site and they built a beautiful performing arts pavilion. But it’s a 15,000-seat shed. That’s not a Woodstock.”
“I was desperate to keep it in New York,” he says. “I looked everywhere because I needed 1,000 acres of clear land with access and infrastructure. Frankly, we weren’t finding it. We had talked about Watkins Glen over the years and I decided on a whim to look at it since having it at a racetrack didn’t appeal to me. But when I looked, I knew it was the perfect facility for what we had in mind. It was reminiscent to me of finding Max [Yasgur]’s field.”
The exact capacity of the venue has been disputed over the years, rumored at one point to hold 600,000 people, but it is decidedly larger than even the original Woodstock grounds in Bethel. While he admits Watkins Glen’s location is rather far from hotels, Lang says on-site accommodations will include “glamping” tents with electricity and much better access to porta-potties, which was previously the cause of the Woodstock ’99 riots.
As fans eagerly await Woodstock 50’s line-up, Lang assures them that it will be well worth the wait. With so many large-scale mixed genre festivals booking incredible line-ups these days, Lang feels they are often missing the mark. “A lot of festivals these days are kind of cookie-cutter. Very few of them have any sort of social impact [and] that’s a wasted opportunity.”
Via: Rolling Stone