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Festivus for the Restivus? — How Giant Music Fests Are Hurting Local Scenes

July 19, 2011

Tuesday’s Baskettcase

A Column by Jeremy Baskett

Summer is upon us, and for many people this means that festival season is in full swing. With some of the nation’s biggest music festivals already behind us, there is still much to look forward to. Each of these magnificent music fests have their own allure to them, but above everything else it’s the music.

You'll delve into thick crowds whether it's at a festival, or a one-night show. The question is, which would you prefer?

However, what I’ve been noticing lately is nothing but rehash.

Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, are just a few of today’s biggest festivals. Many people travel hundreds of miles annually just to have the experience of these events under their belt. To sleep in a tent, sweat their asses off, take copious amounts of drugs, party, oh, and see some good music too. To me, festivals have become what raves were years ago – a ‘cool’ place to hang out and be seen.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a huge amount of real music enthusiasts out there that go purely for the sake of music, but lets be real. That’s not everyone. And these festivals are great outlets to see bands that you wouldn’t typically shell out a hundred plus dollars to check out on their own.

Coachella 2009 was my first full festival experience, and I got to see Morrisey open for Paul McCartney. Amazing.

But, what I am starting to see is that many of these festivals are starting to become homogeneous. And paying upwards of $300 dollars just for the weekend GA ticket, it makes me wonder what’s happening to the live local music scene. Many people I know going to these festivals opt for the “layaway plan” because they purely just can’t afford to buy the ticket all in one go.

So what’s happening to the little guys when the mega giants are starting to take over?

Festivals are only getting bigger. Sasquatch Fest in Washington expanded their festival to four days this past year. Coachella is making their 2012 festival over 2 separate weekends with identical lineups because of its massive popularity. Bonnaroo has already sold out presale tickets for 2012 without a lineup even up yet.

So, why the blind faith? Why is this becoming the new norm for experiencing live music? Are we starting to become so fast paced that we need to experience all the music we would see throughout a year within a weekend?

What’s better?

For now, I will just share good music seen from one of these enormous live experiences, and let you decide…

The Smith’s – How Soon is Now? Coachella 2009

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