Woodstock Plans Annual Festival

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The Woodstock brand is about to get significantly bigger if festival organizer Michael Lang has his way. The producer of the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair revealed in an April 24 interview with Bloomberg that he plans to hold an annual festival in a different country.

“My plan was not to start a yearly Woodstock festival. There are enough festivals,” Lang told Bloomberg. But the most successful festivals generate big revenues. The business news operation noted that Lang had already had discussions with local organizers in Japan, Brazil and Spain for future events.

[Update (April 29): The Woodstock 50 festival has been cancelled.]

Meanwhile, tickets will cost “around $450” for a three-day pass for the Woodstock 50 festival in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on August 16-17-18. Tickets, originally planned to go on sale on April 22 (Earth Day), were quietly delayed on April 19. The most likely explanation is the lack of a permit from Schuyler County’s Dept. of Health. No on-sale date has been announced.

When the planned ticket on-sale date was delayed, the festival’s official website didn’t explain why.

The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal quoted local officials in a April 22 story that the number of attendees for the three-day fest would likely be set at 75,000. Organizers have been said to be hoping for 100,000.

The newspaper quoted an email reply from county administrator Tim O’Hearn: “We have maintained the position that the attendance number would be set at whatever number the production team and promoter could demonstrate they could support with adequate infrastructure and security. That number has been determined to be 75,000…”

Lang previously said that single-day tickets will not be sold, only packages covering the entire three-day event. (At $450 a pop, that potential loss of ticket revenue would be $22,250,000.)

For that global expansion, Lang has teamed with Dentsu Aegis Network, part of Dentsu, the Japanese-based advertising giant. Lang hopes to spread the message of the original Woodstock. “It’s all really geared toward engaging people,” Lang told Bloomberg.

Music industry trade publication Hits reported on April 19 that Danny Wimmer Presents, a music festival production and promotion company, had told talent agents for the festival, “There is currently a hold on the Woodstock 50 on-sale date. We are waiting on an official press statement from Woodstock 50 regarding updated announce, ticket pricing, and overall festival information. We will get this information to you as soon as we receive it.”

Rumors of the festival’s demise were so rampant that its organizer, Michael Lang, told Billboard, also on April 19, “Woodstock is a phenomenon that for fifty years has drawn attention to its principles and also the rumors that can be attached to that attention.” As for its being cancelled, Lang called them “just more rumors.”

Earlier, hoping to quell the fears of nervous local residents, the organizers of the upcoming festival held what was described as a public information session in Watkins Glen on March 27.

Although the racetrack site has been home to many large-scale events, including a 1973 festival that featured the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and The Band, which drew an estimated 600,000 attendees, locals have expressed fears that the crowd for the planned August event could cause havoc. They cited reports from a 1999 Woodstock anniversary event, where violent acts occurred and fires were set on the grounds. Residents were also apprehensive about  the possibility of large numbers of unticketed fans showing up hoping to gain entry, which also happened at previous Woodstock concerts.

Lang, one of the promoters of the original 1969 Woodstock, assured residents that his team is better equipped to handle any problems than they were 20 years ago. He said that he had spoken with presenters of other large festivals, who gave him tips on how to control crowds and avoid potentially negative issues.

“We were the only show in town, people came from all over the world. It’s a very different world now, there are festivals in every city in America,” Lang told the assembled residents at the March 27 meeting.

Lang pointed out that he was careful to book artists who are unlikely to incite fans to riot. He said that 80 acts in all have been booked for Woodstock 50, that the crowd size will be limited to 100,000 people and that campsite sales will be capped at 27,000, with a limit of four people per campsite. Lang added that campers’ vehicles will be searched for prohibited materials, and that security personnel will have a strong presence at the event. He said that some 1,100 security personnel have been hired, and that local law enforcement officers will also be on-site to keep things under control. Healthcare personnel will also be available on-site.

The organizers of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair revealed on March 19 the lineup of the official 50th anniversary festival, including several performers – John Fogerty and Santana, among them – who appeared at the original 1969 festival. Woodstock 50 will be held August 16, 17 and 18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Headlining the event are The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters and Santana on Aug. 16, Dead and Company and Chance the Rapper on Aug. 17, and Jay-Z and Imagine Dragons on Aug, 18.

The April 24 Bloomberg article noted that Lang had tried to book Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga but neither was available.

Many of the names, Dead and Company, Santana and Cyrus, among them, had been leaked in early March.

Just prior to the March 19 announcement, Cyrus tweeted, “Woodstock here I come!”

Among the other Woodstock 50 performers who famously played the ’69 festival are David Crosby, Melanie, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian and Canned Heat. Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady played in ’69 as part of Jefferson Airplane. Amy Helm’s father, Levon Helm, performed at the original with The Band.

Other acts performing at the 50th anniversary concert include The Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Courtney Barnett, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlie, Greta Van Fleet, the Zombies and Gary Clark Jr.

Related: Woodstock 50 lineup – What to make of it

Watch Jefferson Airplane perform at the 1969 festival

The Black Keys announced in April that they had bowed out of the festival due to “a scheduling conflict.”

Classic rock fans may recall that the location in upstate New York is famous for previous rock festivals including a 1973 event that featured the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and The Band.

In an interview with The New York Times, published Jan. 9, Michael Lang, who co-created Woodstock along with Artie Kornfeld, said, “Coachella’s got its thing, as does Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. But I think they’re all missing an opportunity to make a difference in the world. They’re all perfect places for social engagement and for fostering ideas, and I think that’s lost.”

On Dec. 27, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, site of Woodstock ’69 in Bethel, N.Y., announced plans to produce a three-day event on the identical weekend. It’s since been scaled down significantly, with separate concerts on each day.

“While the original site in Bethel remains close to our hearts,” Lang said in a prepared statement in late December, “it no longer has the capacity to hold a real Woodstock festival.

“I’m delighted that Bethel Woods is doing events in the coming year to celebrate what we brought to life in 1969 and I encourage people to visit the museum and concert venue.”

Related: John Fogerty, Ringo, Santana and others will perform at the Bethel Woods event

As Best Classic Bands announced in July 2018, PBS and American Experience will air a new two-hour documentary, Woodstock, scheduled to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. It’ll have its TV premiere on PBS in conjunction with the 50th anniversary. The film is directed by Barak Goodman, and written by Goodman and Don Kleszy.

Related: Woodstock ’69 performers – Where are they now?

Best Classic Bands has been celebrating the greatest rock festival of all-time with a series of feature articles including Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” – Behind the Song, interviews with all members of Jefferson Airplane, and Melanie’s recollections, among them.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

9 Comments so far

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  1. Mike Lang’s Crookstock Festival
    #1 Mike Lang’s Crookstock Festival 25 April, 2019, 02:16

    Well folks, here we have it. Mike Lang figured out how much he’s going to charge to rip off all the kids….$450, Holy Sheet. I went to the original back in “69” & paid $18.00 for 3 days & it turned out to be free. Guess What, this will be free also so don’t waste your money. In fact, don’t even go coz there will be violence & riots. The town of Watkins Glen will be under seige. Pop, Rock & Rap, so you figure it out. Add to that the corporate sponsorship that’s going to sell you a T Shirt of that unknown band for $50.00, water for $10 a pint, $25 for a Cheeseburger & so on. This festival is wrong on so many levels. Remember the fires and fights of the festival in “94”? Hmmm, how come none of those bands are coming to this festival? To keep their equiptment & stay alive. At $450 p/person w/300,000 people that’s $135 MILLION DOLLARS. WOW…Mike Lang, the thief, will walk away with $50 MILLION DOLLARS.
    People of Watkins Glens…WAKE UP & STOP THE FESTIVAL. IF NOT, ALL YOU POTENTIAL ATTENDEES, STAY HOME & STAY ALIVE. This will start & end in tragedy. This is not Music, Peace & Love, it’s mostly Unknown Bands, Violence & Fear. Sorry to write this but I want people to be safe & stay alive…..there’s not enough protection hired for 250,000 people…..
    P.S.- 100,000 people for Woodstock 69 & 500,000 showed up. 100,00 for this festival & 300,000 will show up.

    Reply this comment
    • JD
      JD 26 April, 2019, 11:41

      I think you’re way off base with your numbers and coming up with your own stories. You’re very negative too. This is not 1999 that was 20 yrs. ago. M. Lang has been meeting with the local county and it’s residence and they are capping it at 75K. It may cost $400 – $500 for 3 days. Yes, the water and food will be over priced but it’s the same if I go to a concert at the civic center. You don’t have to buy a shirt or merchandise. We have choices. More people may show up but they will be turning them away. The bands sound fine and new is good. There will be 4 stages to check out. Choices man. ‘New’ will keep you youthful and from becoming an old fart. I’m a senior and missed the first one because I was a young teen. I’m going this time and I can’t wait. Remember at the first Woodstock there were band people heard for the first time. Please stay home if you want to be miserable and scare everyone. You’re a downer. Peace and I hope you find a little bit of happiness before you die. JD

      Reply this comment
      • Won’t Give Lang My Money...
        Won’t Give Lang My Money... 27 April, 2019, 00:47

        Hey JD,
        I went to the first festival & it was great as far as music but the promise of 100,000 people with 500,000 showing up was not so great. There wasn’t enough food or toilets for us but we made the best of it. I’m far from a downer, I enjoy a very beautiful life & I know how lucky I am to have that but I’m also a realist. You go to that show & I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first one. A few things bother me about this festival: crowd control, ticket price, 4 stages (how will you manage that?) and Mike Lang.
        There will be 250,000 people there, it will be free so save your money, 80% of the bands are unknown & Lang is a crook. I hope it’s a weekend of peace but I don’t expect that to be the case. I hope you enjoy your weekend and that you and your friends stay warm & safe. I will be down in the Caribbean with my wife & grandchildren, drinking Pina Coladas, smoking a blunt on the beach while I listen to Hendrix on my headphones.
        P.S.- Make sure to bring warm clothing coz it does get down to the 50’s at night up in the mountains. I didn’t do that in 1969 & was freezing at night.

        Reply this comment
  2. Fear & Loathing @ Woodstock 50
    #2 Fear & Loathing @ Woodstock 50 25 April, 2019, 02:31

    OMG, Watkins Glen, don’t you remember the fires at Woodstock 1994? How about the NY State Thruway being closed down? Do you remember the National Guard being called in? Watkins Glen will become Armageddon. My family is from upstate & they are coming to stay with us in NJ that weekend. My nieces & nephews are musicians & they said their friends are not going because they never heard of the bands & are nervous about the lack of security. The people of Watkins Glen don’t realize the times have changed. It’s a very fragile decade with senseless murders, cop killings & killer cops on the loose. My prayers go out to the town & surrounding areas along with the safety of the children.

    Reply this comment
  3. Daverado456
    #3 Daverado456 25 April, 2019, 20:03

    It’s not about the music. It’s about MONEY

    Reply this comment
    #4 WATKINS GLEN & THE NEED TO HEED...... 26 April, 2019, 01:39

    6 to 10 original bands from 1969 & the other 70 bands are Young The Giant, Portugal, The Man, Akon, Victory & the famous Earl Sweatshirt….huh. Who the hell are these people and why are they playing in a festival that’s charging festival goers $450. Michael Lang should be arrested & prosecuted for conning the town of Watkins Glen by telling them 100,000 people will show up when he knows what happened in the past. Peolple of Watkins Glen need to start a petition to save their village. There won’t b enough security to maintain the crowd if their are fights and fires like in 1994. SAVE YOUR TOWN…ITS NOT WORTH THE MONEY LANG IS PAYING YOU. WG WILL USE ALL THE MONEY TO REPAIR THEIR TOWN, SO NO PROFIT. LANG IS THE ONE THAT WALKS AWAY WITH THE MONEY AND LWAVES YOUR VILLAGE IN SHAMBLES.

    Reply this comment
  5. phantom
    #5 phantom 26 April, 2019, 08:22

    no one wants to pay 450 for Miley Cyrus ; if they had switched a couple bands and added bands like Pearl Jam, GnR or even Foo Fighters. I would say that would be worth at least 250 – 300 for the weekend. this is not peace and love its a way to get as much money as possible, Woodstock 99 was like 150 for the weekend and the talent was way better!

    Reply this comment
    • Only One Woodstock.....1969.
      Only One Woodstock.....1969. 27 April, 2019, 00:55

      I’ve wondered why no musicians/bands from 1994 or 1999 are playing. I don’t think it turned out as they expected. There were fights & fires and the whole “Peace& Love” anthem went out the window as will happen to this festival also. You’re lucky to catch lightening in a bottle once, no less two times. There will never be another Woodstock no matter what you call it….

      Reply this comment
  6. mikeratt
    #6 mikeratt 26 April, 2019, 18:50

    Woodstock is a dream, keep it that way.

    Reply this comment

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