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Major US festivals reschedule as Coachella cancels

Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival will no longer take place this April after being issued with a cancellation order by local authorities.

Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County, California, tweeted late on Friday (29 January) that neither festival – scheduled for 9–11/16–18 April and 23–25 April, respectively – would be allowed to go ahead in light of the deteriorating coronavirus situation in the state, which passed 40,000 deaths from Covid-19 the following day.

It is the third time the festivals, which take place on the same site in Indio, in the Coachella Valley, have been called off since March 2020, when they were originally rescheduled for October, and then again to April 2021.

Aside from Glastonbury Festival in the UK, Coachella is the biggest international music festival to have cancelled its 2021 event, casting a pall over the summer festival season. It is unclear whether Coachella and Stagecoach, a country music event, will again attempt to reschedule for autumn or aim for a 2022 return.

Goldenvoice owner AEG has already pushed back one festival, the seven-day New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to later this year: Jazz Fest, which normally begins on the last weekend in April will instead take place from 8 to 17 October.

“If Covid-19 were detected at the festivals, the scope and number of attendees would make it infeasible … to track those who may be placed at risk”

“It’s taking longer than we want, but we’ll all have our celebration when the time comes,” says festival producer Quint Davis. “Your health, along with the health of our musicians, food and crafts vendors, and all of the folks that work to make the magic happen, remains the priority as we plan the return of Jazz Fest.”

Also making the move from summer to the autumn months are a pair of Live Nation events, Bonnaroo (2–5 September) and New York festival Governors Ball (24–26 September), neither of which have announced a 2021 line-up, and Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, which has applied for an event permit for the weekend of 10–12 September, as opposed to its normal July dates.

The decision to cancel Coachella and Stagecoach was taken over concerns that both festivals could have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus, according to the order linked by Kaiser. “If Covid-19 were detected at the festivals, the scope and number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk,” it reads.

Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease specialist, predicted last month that indoor shows could return “some time” in autumn, depending on the pace of the US vaccine programme.

 


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Covid-19 restrictions claim major US festivals

Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will not take place this year, despite being pushed back six months, as the Covid-19 pandemic triumphs over the last few major US festivals still standing.

The news comes days after the cancellation of C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza Chicago (100,000-cap.), the festival franchise’s flagship edition, which was due to take place from 30 July to 1 August, representing some of the final losses of the 2020 US festival calendar. Events including Live Nation/AC Entertainment’s Bonnaroo (24 to 27 September) and BottleRock Napa Valley (2 to 4 October), both rescheduled, are currently still going ahead as planned.


A weekend-long virtual event will take place over the original festival weekend, showcasing archival footage from Lolla Chicago, as well as the festival’s six international editions.

Coachella (125,000-cap.), along with its country music counterpart Stagecoach, had previously been moved from its original dates in April to October in a bid to circumvent coronavirus restrictions.

However, yesterday (10 June), public health officer Dr Cameron Kaiser announced he was “concerned” that Covid-19 “could worsen” in the autumn.

“Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward [with Coachella and Stagecoach],” said Kaiser.

“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted”

“These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community.”

Kaiser also pointed out that mass gatherings such as festivals fall under the “highest-risk” category in the state of California’s four-step reopening plan, and will only be permitted to restart in the final phase “once therapeutics have been developed.

Coachella 2020 was set to feature headliners Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott over two consecutive festival weekends at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Riverside County, California.

Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church were among those to perform at Stagecoach the weekend after Coachella.

Dates for the 2021 editions of Coachella and Stagecoach have yet to be announced.

Earlier this week, Goldenvoice parent company AEG announced it would be laying off 15% of its workforce and furloughing over 100 employees, in addition to enacting pay cuts across the company.

Photo: Ben_1/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)

 


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It’s official: Coachella rescheduled for October

April’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – traditionally the unofficial start to the festival season in the northern hemisphere – is being pushed back to October, organisers have announced, becoming the biggest music-biz casualty of the coronavirus to date.

Confirming a story first broken by Billboard on Monday 9 March (which reported Goldenvoice was working to reschedule the event), at around 11pm GMT last night the promoter released a statement stating Coachella will now take place on 9–11 and 16–18 October 2020, while country music festival Stagecoach is pushed back to 23–25 October 2020.

Coachella 2020, headlined by Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and a reunited Rage Against the Machine, was original set for 10–12 April (weekend one) and 17–19 April (weekend two) at its traditional home of the Empire Polo Club (125,000-cap.) in Indio, Riverside County, California.

Yesterday (10 March), Riverside County voted to declare a public health emergency in response to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. At the time of writing, there have been at least 14 cases of the virus recorded in California.

“We take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously”

“At the direction of the county of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to Covid-19 concerns,” reads Goldenvoice’s statement.

“While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”

Coachella and Stagecoach are the third and fourth major US festival postponements due to concerns over the virus, which has now infected around 120,000 people worldwide, following Ultra Miami and Austin’s South by Southwest.

In Europe, where Covid-19 is more widespread, festival promoters are still biding their time – though widespread bans on large public gatherings across the continent appear to signal further cancellations, and many tours have been called off.

 


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