The Evolution of Music Festivals
During the summer, the number of music festivals is enough to make your head spin. Whether its Sasquatch in Washington, Warped Tour at various locations or the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, it can all be overwhelming.
The appeal of festivals is easy to see. Why spend time and money seeing your favorite artists spread out when you can pay a hefty fee and see them at once in an atmosphere of those that feel the same way. This has been, perhaps, the biggest draw to them. That is why they can draw massive amounts of crowds an ridiculous amount of profit.The evolution of music festivals is something that is mesmerizing to watch. Music festivals haven't always been as grand and groundbreaking.
Woodstock is a name synonymous with music festivals. With a lineup that included classic artists such as Joan Baez, Sly & the family Stone, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, this festival put such an idea on the map.Festivals had been prevalent before, but it was Woodstock that would put them on the map, so to speak. Woodstock was held in upstate New York. The response was to create one just as iconic on the West coast.This was carried out not by entertainment companies, record labels or any other corporate entity. Instead, it was pushed by San Francisco based bands Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. These two bands would eventually need the help of The Rolling Stones.Concert goers complained ticket prices were too high, so the response was a free concert. If Woodstock symbolized the pinnacle of the "hippy movement" the free concert being planned in Altamont, California would mark the end.
The Hells Angels were hired as security. They had been used as security by The Rolling Stones before, so this was not anything out of the ordinary. The festivals were increasing violence and over crowding led to tensions running high by the time the Stones took the stage.During their set, an 18-year-old, Meredith Hunter, pulled a revolver from his jacket and was immediately stabbed by a Hells Angel.The Hells Angel was acquitted of murder, having acted in self-defense. Hunter was high on methamphetamine at the tome of his death.
This is an important event to be aware of. Music festivals now are often seen as a community being brought together for the sole purpose of enjoying the music. While that has always been the theme, there have been times that they will deviate from their narrative.Before Drake and other top 40 artists were dominating such festivals, it started with folk/rock. Before advertisers became the prime organizers, it was bands and locals donating their land to be used. Before expensive tickets, the generosity of bands was always a factor that could be called upon.Music festivals are still great and will continue to be great, but to understand the past is to understand the present. The festivals enjoyed today, came from trial and error, just like everything else in our lives.