Bonnaroo cancels 2021 edition amid Hurricane Ida
This year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has been cancelled at the eleventh hour due to flooding from Hurricane Ida.
The Live Nation-owned festival was to be held in Tennessee, US, this week (2 to 5 September), with headliners Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala, and more.
In a statement posted on social media, the Bonnaroo team said it is “heartbroken” to pull the plug for a second consecutive year.
“While this weekend’s weather looks outstanding, currently Centeroo is waterlogged in many areas, the ground is incredibly saturated on our tollbooth paths, and the campgrounds are flooded to the point that we are unable to drive in or park vehicles safely,” reads the statement.
It continues: “We have done everything in our power to try to keep the show moving forward, but Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain over the past 24 hours, and we have run out of options to try to make the event happen safely and in a way that lives up to the Bonnaroo experience.”
“We have run out of options to try to make the event happen safely and in a way that lives up to the Bonnaroo experience”
The festival organisers revealed that Bonnaroo will return in June 2022 to mark its 20th anniversary.
The festival has historically been held in the month of June since 2002, however, this year’s edition was pushed back to September.
The festival last took place in 2019, when organisers welcomed around 70,000 attendees per day for the festival’s first sell-out since 2013.
While Hurricane Ida (a category four storm) has been making its way through the southern part of the country, the northeast is still reeling from Hurricane Henri which caused a slate of concert cancellations.
UK festival Standon Calling had similar bad luck with flash flooding, forcing organisers to pull the plug on the last day of the event. The boutique event took place from 22 to 25 July with headliners Bastille, Hot Chip, Primal Scream and Craig David’s TS5.
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Footage from major fests to be shown in WMG’s PlayOn Fest
Past performances at major festivals including Coachella, Primavera Sound and Rock in Rio, as well as from venues such as the O2 Arena, will be streamed as part of Warner Music Group’s three-day virtual event, PlayOn Fest.
The event, which kicks off on Friday (24 April) at midday EDT will stream live for 72 hours via the Songkick YouTube channel, allowing fans to “relive epic performances for one time only”.
The virtual festival will raise funds for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund through the sale of merchandise and donations.
Performances from over 65 acts, including Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe, Green Day and Slipknot will be broadcast over the three-day event.
“PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the WHO’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19”
PlayOn Fest will include festival footage from Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Primavera Sound and Rock In Rio, as well as live shows from London’s O2 Arena, Sydney Opera House and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“During this pandemic, we are all searching for ways to stay connected,” says Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, which powers the WHO’s Covid-19 fund.
“The PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the World Health Organization’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19.”
Over the weekend, the Global Citizen-organised, Lady Gaga-curated One World: Together at Home benefit concert, which featured live performances from acts in real time, raised $127 million for the WHO’s fund.
Read more about the booming business of livestreaming here.
Photo: slgckgc/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)
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Virtual event to replace cancelled Burning Man 2020
Burning Man is the latest US festival to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, with organisers announcing that the famous Black Rock City will take the form of a “virtual metropolis” instead this year.
The countercultural gathering was set to take place from 30 August to 7 September in Nevada’s Black Rock desert.
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” reads a statement on the Burning Man website.
“Given the painful reality of Covid-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do.”
The event, often dubbed as an “anti-festival”, will go ahead online, however, with fans invited to enter the Virtual Black Rock City 2020, in keeping with the event’s 2020 theme, the Multiverse.
“Given the painful reality of Covid-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do”
Unsure what form the online gathering will take, the Burning Man team says although it “will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes”, the virtual event will also be “engaging, connective, and fun”.
The first round of Burning Man ticket sales took place last month, with 4,000 tickets prices at $1,400 sold during the ‘FOMO’ ticket sale in March, as well as those sold through Direct Group Sale (DGS). The event’s main ticket sale was postponed earlier this month.
Organisers state they are “committed” to providing refunds to “those who need them”, adding that they hope some “will consider donating all or a portion of your ticket value, and/or making a tax-deductible donation to (non-profit festival organiser) Burning Man Project”.
“Substantial” staff layoffs, pay reductions and other cost-cutting measures will be needed to ensure the organisation remains operational into next year’s event season, say organisers.
Burning Man joins other major US events to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, including South by Southwest, Governors Ball, Boston Calling, Firefly Festival and Ultra Miami, with Coachella, Bonnaroo, BottleRock, New Orleans’ Jazz Fest and Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas all pushed back to later in the year.
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More US festivals pushed back to autumn
Following the postponement earlier this month of California’s Coachella, other major US music festivals are falling prey to the coronavirus outbreak, with Bonnaroo, BottleRock and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival among those to have rescheduled for later this year.
Live Nation/AC Entertainment’s Bonnaroo Music & Artists Festival, based on the ‘Farm’ in Manchester, Tennessee, announced yesterday (18 March) it will take place from 24 to 27 September instead of the originally scheduled 11–14 June.
Bonnaroo, one of the longest-running multi-genre music festivals in North America, was to have been headlined by Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala, with Miley Cyrus, Flume, Bassnectar, Lana Del Rey and Vampire Weekend also confirmed. It is unclear if all artists will play the rescheduled event.
“Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will be rescheduled to take place September 24–27, 2020, out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of all Bonnaroovians, artists, staff and our community,” reads a statement from the festival.
“Please continue to radiate positivity through this uncharted time in our world,” it adds. “Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you on the Farm this fall.”
BottleRock Napa Valley, originally scheduled for 22–24 May, has, like Coachella, been pushed back to October (albeit a week earlier, 2–4 October).
“The health and safety of the community, our musicians, festival fans, participants, sponsors and staff are paramount”
“It is with great pleasure we can announce that all our headliners, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews Band, Miley Cyrus, Khalid, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Zedd and more are confirmed for the rescheduled dates,” the Napa, California, festival – also a Live Nation event – says in a statement.
“Additional line-up updates will be announced as soon as possible,” BottleRock adds.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, whose 2020 line-up features the Who, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Lizzo, Lionel Richie and Dead and Company, is also now taking place this autumn, though organiser New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation has to announce the new dates.
“At the direction of the City of New Orleans authorities, in response to ongoing Covid-19 health concerns, the 2020 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will not occur this April and May, as scheduled,” reads a statement from the festival. “The health and safety of the community, our musicians, festival fans, participants, sponsors and staff are paramount, and we urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”
Jazz Fest was originally scheduled for 23 April to 3 May.
The 1975 to only play festivals with 50/50 gender split?
The 1975 frontman Matty Healy has announced that he will only agree to play at festivals that commit to featuring 50% female and non-binary performers, saying “this is how male artists can be true allies”.
The statement evolved from a Twitter exchange with journalist Laura Snapes, who suggested the artist add a condition to his rider to stipulate a boycott of festivals dominated by male acts.
“Take this as me signing this contract,” wrote Healy. “I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who have tickets. But from now I will.”
“This is how male artists can be true allies”
Healy admitted that he was sure “my agents are having kittens right now”, but stated that “people need to act and not chat”. The 1975 are represented by Mike Mori at Paradigm (North America) and Matt Bates at Primary Talent International (RoW).
The 1975 are headlining a one-day event at London’s Finsbury Park this summer, in a special eco-friendly show. The band are also making appearances at UK festivals Boardmasters and Edinburgh Summer Sessions, Bonnaroo and Boston Calling in the US, and Rock for People in Czech Republic.
Over 300 festival, industry organisations and events have now signed the Keychange pledge, committing to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022.
Festival Fever: more line-up announcements for 2020
Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from US festivals Coachella and Bonnaroo, and European events Wacken Open Air, Pinkpop, Melt! and Pohoda.
(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)
Wacken Open Air
When: 30 July to 1 August
Where: Wacken, Germany
How many: 75,000
Leading metal event Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours. Slipknot, Amon Amarth, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate are among those playing the 2020 event.
Speaking to IQ for a special 30th anniversary feature last year, W:O:A co-founder Thomas Jensen said the event was “kind of a home for a dedicated group of people”. Jensen and fellow Wacken co-founder Holger Hübner are to receive the lifetime acheivement gong at this year’s European Festival Awards.
Jensen and Hübner’s International Concert Service (ICS), which includes a roster of other hard rock festivals, a touring division, a booking agency (Seaside Touring), ticketing platform Metaltix and the nonprofit Wacken Foundation, received investment from James Barton-led Superstruct Entertainment last year.
Fans can sign up to the waiting list for Wacken 2020 tickets here.
W:O:A sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
When: 10 to 12, 17 to 19 April
Where: Empire Polo Club, California, USA
How many: 125,000
AEG/Goldenvoice-promoted mega festival Coachella is returning to the Californian desert for two consecutive weekends in April, marking the start to the international festival season.
Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the event, alongside performers including Calvin Harris, Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey and Flume.
Tickets for both Coachella weekends are now sold out. Fans can join the waiting list for tickets here.
Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the 2020 event
When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Megaland, Landgraaf, the Netherlands
How many: 60,000
Pinkpop, promoted by Buro Pinkpop in partnership with Mojo Concerts, last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, with founder Jan Smeets receiving a special commemorative coin to mark his achievements.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition, which also features performances from Twenty One Pilots, Rag’n’Bone Man, Anderson Paak, Nothing But Thieves and Keane.
Artists including Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons and the Cure played the festival’s anniversary event last year.
Tickets for Pinkpop 2020 are available here, priced at €230 (£195) for a three-day pass.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition
When: 9 to 11 July
Where: Trenčín Airport, Slovakia
How many: 30,000
Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines, Metronomy, Thom Yorke, Wolf Alice and Floating Points.
The festival, which has sold out for the past two years, won the Take a Stand Award at last year’s European Festival Awards for its commitment to peace and tolerance, with festival director Michal Kaščák winning the prize for excellence and passion.
Pohoda, which means ‘peace’ in English, is nominated for the best medium festival award, line-up of the year and the health and safety innovation award at the upcoming European Festival Awards 2019, taking place on 15 January at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Tickets for Pohoda 2020 are available here, with a three-day festival ticket priced at €109 (£93).
Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines and Metronomy
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
When: 11 to 14 June
Where: Great Stage Park, Tennessee, USA
How many: 20,000
Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership.
Other announced acts include Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, the 1975, Flume and Bassnectar.
Live Nation, which had a controlling interest in the festival since 2015, acquired the remaining stake from the event’s co-founder Superfly last year. Fellow co-founder AC Entertainment continues to promote the event alongside Live Nation and C3 Presents.
Tickets for Bonnaroo 2020 are available here, with prices ranging from US$329 (£251) for general admission to $3,275 (£2,502) for a platinum pass.
Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership
When: 17 to 19 July
Where: Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
How many: 20,000
Melt! Festival, one of the biggest open-air electronic music events in Germany, this year features sets from Bicep, Floating Points, DJ Stingray, Marcel Dettman, Nina Kraviz and Helena Hauff, as well as performances from Burna Boy, Little Simz and Woodkid.
Taking place at Ferropolis –‘the city of iron’ –, a former open-cast mine complete with enormous, decommissioned industrial machines, Melt! Last year featured acts including Bon Iver, Skepta, Jorja Smith, Asap Rocky, Four Tet and Solomun.
Melt! Festival creative director Florian Czok, who also works as an agent at Berlin’s Melt! Booking, was named as one of IQ’s 2019 New Bosses.
Tickets for Melt! 2020 are available here, priced at €124.95 (£106).
On the edge of culture and creativity: Superfly Q&A
Superfly, the company behind festivals such as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, has been making major moves in the experiential space.
Founded in 1996 by Rick Farman, Jonathan Mayers, Rich Goodstone and Kerry Black, Superfly has a history of exploring different kinds of immersive, live events from comedy festival Clusterfest to music and arts festival Bonnaroo.
More recently, the company has invested in businesses including sensory experience specialist Listen, immersive entertainment hot spot Two Bit Circus and event technology company LiveStyled, part of its commitment to marrying music with technology.
IQ catches up with Superfly co-founder and music-tech specialist Rick Farman to find out more about the paradoxical relationship between new technology and live events and the potential for music in the virtual events space.
Superfly has invested greatly in the immersive entertainment space recently, why?
There are certainly a few aspects to this. Due to Superfly’s background, we have a great vantage point for the entertainment and experiential industries at large, so we can identify companies with great potential for growth that we can have a very meaningful impact on.
With these investments, we are trying to find crossover with other companies. We have seen over the years on both sides of our business – be it as an event creator and operator, or as a brand agency business and service provider – that there’s a lot of scope for this.
At the same time, we are not a typical music company or promoter – the core of what Superfly does is create experiences that impact people in positive ways with a high level of creativity. We are interested in all different kinds of artists and art forms – anything that helps people find where their passions lie. So, as we grow our business, we are seeking to explore all different types of entertainment and create more diversification across the board.
“The core of what Superfly does is create experiences that impact people in positive ways with a high level of creativity”
How does this translate into your festival business?
We build festivals by trying to replicate that big experience on stage. It’s about performance, but with heightened participation. Outside Lands, for example, does this primarily through food and drink: people learn about wine from the region, talk to those who make it, do wine tastings etc.
What was really brand new and cutting edge for Outside Lands this year, was that we had sales and consumption of cannabis on-site. Globally, no other major festival has done this. Other events have concessions, but we built out a whole different experience from it for people to learn about cannabis – there was a smell wall, information on how it’s made, and we worked with leading brands in the cannabis eco systems. It’s all about bringing that immersive quality and tying it into that culture – that’s the general way we approach that kind of thing at festivals.
It’s like what we’re doing with the Friends and the Seinfeld experiences, too. The idea came out of our comedy festival, Clusterfest, to present immersive experiences with leading media IP from TV shows. We created the format and exported the Clusterfest ideas into standalone installations. The Friends Experience sold out in New York when it launched and recently opened in Boston too.
“It’s an interesting paradox in a way – live music is growing both because of and in spite of that innovation”
The consumer demand for the experiential has increased massively in the past few years, what are the main reasons behind this?
In many ways, there is a direct correlation with the ways in which people experience entertainment at home and the advent of a more digital lifestyle. We have seen this happen before with the explosion of the festival market, especially in the United States, which was driven by advances of technology around digital music. Having access to all that content makes sense when you can then go and see it all at a festival – they’re like mirror experiences.
This is similar to what is happening right now, but with even more interactive digital experiences – people are not just watching but participating in the digital space now, and they are looking for experiences that feed into that real world experience.
For example, visual social platforms like Instagram create a level of needing to get out and experience special events firsthand. All of this increases the desire to go to a festival or event. On the other hand, a festival is an experience that lasts for days, away from screens and technology, so it provides a respite from that digital life.
It’s an interesting paradox in a way – live music is growing both because of and in spite of that innovation. I personally think it’s awesome when these things happen – the convergence of what your experiences are in the digital world with what you’re getting from the live experience.
“Technology can be an amazing tool for artists and Superfly has a real opportunity to play within that overall emerging space”
Could you argue that technology is taking away from the real, lived music experience in any way?
For me, technology only adds to live experiences. The whole artistic universe – streams, merch, live – is being translated to a different context, where a lot of young people interested in entertainment and culture are living, so there is great potential.
The virtual events space is ripe for music to be one of the leading components. There is obviously momentum there already, the watershed moment being the Fortnite x Marshmello concert, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
What is so cool about the gaming format, and what’s developed with streaming platforms like Twitch, is that the level of interactivity that the artists can have with the fan is really incredible. We are now transcending the normal ability for an artist to participate with the audience and having more of a conversation and feedback element. Layer on top of that, all of the magic that can be created in a CGI environment and there’s something really special.
I believe that technology can be a really amazing tool for artists and Superfly as a brand has a real opportunity to play within that overall emerging space.
Superfly makes moves in experiential space
New York production company Superfly has delved further into the immersive experience side of live entertainment, following the buy-out of its stake in Bonnaroo by Live Nation.
Superfly, the company that co-founded Tennessee-based Bonnaroo in 2002, last week announced the launch of The Seinfeld Experience, a year-long, immersive activation based on hit TV show Seinfeld.
“We’re thrilled to bring The Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment,” says Superfly co-founder Jonathan Mayers.
The production company also recently acquired a majority stake in sensory experience specialist Listen. Founded in 2012, Listen has collaborated with artists including Childish Gambino and Brian Eno, as well as carrying out experiential marketing for brands such as Microsoft, Paypal and Virgin.
“We’re thrilled to bring the Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment”
Superfly has created activations for San Francisco comedy festival Clusterfest, which it co-produces with television channel Comedy Central, since its inauguration in 2017. Installations include replications of sets from TV programmes The Office, Atlanta and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Superfly’s festival portfolio includes Bonnaroo, which it produced for a final time this year in a sell-out edition, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The company was the original production partner of Woodstock 50, pulling out after the festival lost its financial backing.
The Seinfeld Experience will open in autumn. Tickets will go on sale in the coming months.
Live Nation to take over Superfly’s Bonnaroo share
Live Nation, which has had a controlling interest in Tennessee-based Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival since 2015, has announced its intention to buy out the rest of the festival from its co-founder Superfly.
According to Billboard, Live Nation told Bonnaroo minority owners of its plans to exercise a buyout and purchase the rest of the festival.
The transaction will take place before next year’s festival. Although it is believed that a limited role for Superfly is being considered, the company will no longer have a hand in organising the festival, say reports.
Bonnaroo will now be produced by Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and AC Entertainment, which co-founded the festival along with Superfly in 2002 and was acquired by Live Nation in 2016.
Bonnaroo will now be produced by Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and AC Entertainment
The biggest camping festival in North America, this year’s Bonnaroo festival sold out all 80,000 tickets in its first sell-out since 2013. Childish Gambino, Post Malone and Phish headlined the event, which took place from 13 to 16 June in Great Stage Park, Manchester.
Superfly had been hired to produce this year’s Woodstock 50 event but pulled out of the anniversary festival in May, after the Woodstock team lost the backing of its investor.
In 2018, its Phoenix-based festival Lost Lakes was cancelled and in January, the company announced it was not putting on another edition of Denver’s Grandoozy festival.
Superfly also co-produces Outside Lands festival in San Francisco with promoter Another Planet.
Festival weekend: Bonnaroo sells out as UK fests brave the rain
In a dramatic turnaround, the long-running Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee sold all 80,000 tickets for its 2019 event – its first sell-out since its Paul McCartney-headlined 2013 edition.
Taking place once again in the 650-acre Great Stage Park in Manchester, Bonnaroo 2019 (Thurs 13–Sun 16 June) was headlined by Childish Gambino, Post Malone and jam band greats Phish. Festival director Ashley Capps tells the Tennessean Bonnaroo 2019 had, “by a huge margin, the biggest presale in [its] history”, with fans responding to organisers’ renewed focus on the festival experience.
“There’s been a lot of focus on the 24/7 Bonnaroo experience, and making the festival an unforgettable weekend outside of having a great lineup musically,” says Capps. “Seeing that huge surge in the presale during the month of December, I think spoke to that focus.”
Founded in 2002, inspired by the founders’ experiences attending festivals organised by Phish in the ’90s, Bonnaroo sold 70,000 tickets in 19 days for its maiden event. Sales dipped below 50,000 for the first time in 2016, although Bonnaroo remained the biggest camping festival in North America.
“We’re going into year 18, and as with any enterprise, there’s always a little bit of ebb and flow,” Capps says. “It’s inevitable. But it’s certainly great to feel like we’re back on top of our game at this point. It’s exciting.”
Capps’ company, AC Entertainment, was acquired by Live Nation in late 2016. LN already owned a controlling stake in Bonnaroo itself, since 2015.
“It’s great to feel like we’re back on top of our game at this point”
On the other side of the Atlantic, last weekend saw the return of two of the biggest events on the UK’s festival calendar, Download (110,000-cap.) and Isle of Wight Festival (90,000-cap.), with both getting off to a rainy start (and, in the case of Isle of Wight, a tornado-y one) amid unseasonably wet weather.
A reported 80,000 people attended Download, held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, which was headlined by Def Leppard, Slipknot and Tool, with other performers including Slash, Whitesnake and Trivium. Slipknot’s Saturday night set (their fourth time headlining the metal festival) was singled out for particular praise, with Metal Hammer describing them as the “ultimate Download headliners”. “There are no grand displays of production tonight, no set-ending fireworks,” writes MH reviewer Eleanor Goodman, “but they don’t need it.”
On the Isle of Wight, meanwhile, festival organiser John Giddings paid tribute to festivalgoers for braving the downpours on Thursday, telling the Press Association: “We had 24 hours of rain and the audience still enjoyed themselves. If they’re prepared to get through that, the rest is plain sailing, really isn’t it? … I can’t congratulate them enough on having the best time ever when the rain comes down like that.”
Isle of Wight Festival 2019 marks 50 years since Bob Dylan headlined the original event in 1969, and several performers included Dylan covers in their sets. Headliners were Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, George Ezra and Biffy Clyro, with Biffy closing Sunday night amid a barrage of pyrotechnics and fireworks. “We love this festival,” said mustard suit-clad frontman Simon Neil. “It’s great to be back.”