After a long and blundering journey, Woodstock‘s 50th anniversary has officially bitten the dust. The event, which was scheduled just two weeks from now on August 16-18, had experienced unprecedented setbacks since April, during which time cancellation rumors began swirling that the event was experiencing financial trouble.
When the festival’s main investors pulled out and took it upon themselves to publically cancel the event, the fight to save Woodstock began. The road was paved with good intentions, including a a shaky promise that the event would still go on. However, amid a series of tomultuous events, including PR nightmares, legal battles, scrambles for more money, Woodstock’s cancellation would become an inevitability in the public eye.
When the venue in Watkins Glen backed out of their contract, many headlining artists began following suit, and it seemed everyone on earth but the Woodstock organizers knew the event was dead in the water. Still, Woodstock 50 fought for its life by becoming a free, one day event and moved the festival from New York down to Maryland. Now, multiple sources have come forth to say what co-founder Michael Lang couldn’t admit — that Woodstock 50 must face the music and pull the plug.
Variety first broke the news, followed by an official statement from Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang:
“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.”
Yesterday, headliner Miley Cyrus had reportedly pulled out of the festival, joining the Raconteurs, the Lumineers and original Woodstock 1969 performers Santana, John Sebastian, and Country Joe McDonald. Earlier, headliners Jay-Z, Dead & Company, and John Fogerty all confirmed that they would not be performing.
“We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary.,” continued Lang. “Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons.”
With that, the music world bids adieu to Woodstock. The truth is, the music landscape is completely different nowadays from the time of Woodstock’s humble 1969 roots. The industry is mired by corporatism and big money politics and it seems Lang and company were trying to revive an idealistic vision of the past — albeit one based on political change and collective social good.
“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,” said Lang. “We thank the artists, fans, and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity.”
Perhaps Woodstock organizers will take a page from the book of failure and try for a return in another decade. Only time will tell on the possibility of Woodstock 60.