Stop me if you think you know what happens next: massively-hyped festival, plagued by financial uncertainty and musical controversy, assures that it’s still moving forward. Though this situation is shockingly lacking any of Ja Rule’s fingerprints, it’s looking more and more as if Woodstock 50 could be another Fyre Festival-level fiasco.
The latest roadbump in the iconic concert’s 50th anniversary celebration is that well, there might not be any celebration happening at all: yesterday, a representative for the festival’s primary financial partner, Amplifi Live, made the Fyre-esque statement that “despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, 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.” Due to these concerns, the company announced: “after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival.”
Not so fast, though. In response to Amplifi’s cancellation announcement, official organizers from the festival—which is allegedly set to occur from August 16 to 18 at Watkins Glen in Bethel, New York—fired back, claiming that “Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the festival’s cancellation and legal remedy will (be) sought.” At this point, the only thing we know for sure is that things seem to be heading more in the direction of Woodstock ’99 than ’69.
This uncertainty over the event’s future isn’t anything new, but rather just the latest left turn on a road where all signs point to “yikes.” For one, even if this basically-hypothetical festival, just three and a half months away, sounds like your cup of masochism tea, good luck grabbing tickets. We’re sure scalpers would love to price you out of attending, that would require tickets to go on sale in the first place.
Though passes for the festival were set to go on sale last Monday, April 22nd, a last minute email sent to ticket agents by the event’s organizers announced that ticket sales had been placed on indefinite hold: “There’s currently a hold on the Woodstock 50 on-sale date. We’re waiting on an official press statement from [organizers] regarding updated [announcements], ticket pricing, and overall festival information,” read the message.
The festival’s statement regarding the hold on ticket sales may remain frustratingly vague, though reports suggest that it may be due to an organizational oversight of failing to obtain the mass-gathering permit for the site from the New York Statement Department of Health that’s necessary for things to move forward. Just last year, Phish’s Curveball Festival faced a similar cancellation after failing to secure the same permit for the site.
Another account indicated logistical concerns over the town of Bethel’s road conditions being too unsafe and ill-equipped to support the amount of people that would flock to the potential concert. Ironically enough, Woodstock’s original site is unavailable that weekend, playing host instead to the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival.
Beyond the numerous organizational shortcomings, there’s the additional concern over another integral part of the festival, that being the music itself: the line-up, which is set to feature performances by Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, and Chance the Rapper, among numerous others. Not only did it draw criticism from many who found it to be more similar to the contemporary, corporate-driven festival machine than the spirit of the original Woodstock. Additionally, other performers like as Halsey and the Killers were forced to offer uncomfortable justifications for their…their position…in the lineup.
Whether or not you vibe with the performers, there’s also the issue, much like Fyre Festival, of whether or not your faves even show up: last month, the Black Keys, who were set for a headlining spot on the Saturday of the festival, backed out, citing “scheduling issues.” A replacement has yet to be announced.
Despite the alleged poor venue conditions, the financial vagueness, the delayed ticket sales, and performer controversies, we’re still hoping that Woodstock 50 is a go – if only so that we can relive the social media joy that Fyre Festival brought and get some killer behind-the-scenes documentaries about the disaster a couple of years from now.