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Inside The Rapidly-Rising, Bubble-Bursting Culture Of Music Festivals

March 2, 2021 | By admin | No Comments | Filed in: lprxfsblu.

first_imgThere are few experiences that can top a music festival weekend.Something that was once a counterculture, hippie escape from the lulls of the rat race is now a key cog in mainstream society and almost a rite of passage for young people. And make no mistake, the exponential growth of the scene has been nothing short of extraordinary.According to Nielsen Music, in 2014, 32 million people attended at least one music festival, and nearly half of them were millennials.That statistic is particularly telling, because it explains the heavy amount of sponsorship dollars that flow into these events, seeking the approval of the most desirable demographic on the market. An AEG, LLC report said that North American-based companies spent $1.34 billion sponsoring music venues, festivals and tours in 2014, and that number has increased like clockwork over the past five years. Anheuser-Busch was responsible for a third of it.These days we have over 800 festivals to choose from, and that number is constantly changing. Still visible in the rear-view mirror are the years when regionally-based offerings like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Sasquatch! and Austin City Limits (ACL) were all that we had.While each festival had its own unique aesthetic, at the core, they were all the same. They provided a rare opportunity to separate from society and submerge in another world, where you could explore the simplest pleasures in life without judgment or consequence.A decade ago, there were no smart phones or selfie sticks in the air — just hands and gravity-friendly fans seeking a better view. Social media hadn’t been invented yet. Silent disco was the only way you could describe the 3 a.m., music-less dance party at your neighbor’s campsite.Festivalgoers had nothing but good vibes, memories and stories to take home. They fostered communal relationships and created festival families through shared experiences that brought them back each year. Thankfully, those elements have not and will not change.But it’s not all sunshine and smiles. Behind the scenes, the economics of this boom have created a hierarchy that’s replaced grassroots events with corporate ones, as entities like AEG and Live Nation have become major players. We’ve seen many familiar and beloved staples fall by the wayside at a much higher rate since.So, how did all this happen? What factors sparked this exponential boom? And beyond that, what are the effects — both good and bad — of this seemingly oversaturated space?In an attempt to answer these questions, we spoke with industry members on different sides of the phenomenon to gain some perspective on the fascinating and rapid evolution of music festivals in the 21st century.FROM LAST LINE TO HEADLINEAs Umphrey’s McGee was picking up steam in South Bend, Indiana in the late-1990s, getting to play music festivals was a priority.It’s a strategy many bands employ early in their career, and UM was no different, hoping to put their progressive rock jams in front of larger audiences in new markets. After UM built a respectable network, the doors were opened to Quincy, California’s High Sierra Music Fest in 2001.“That was our first glimpse into what the festival world was and, of course, a year later Bonnaroo happened,” said UM keyboardist Joel Cummins. “At least — for our scene — that felt like it really changed everything.”The inaugural Bonnaroo was a much different animal than its present-day form. In 2002, Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio, Ben Harper, The String Cheese Incident and Phil Lesh stood atop the lineup. Its supporting cast resembled something more akin to Mountain Jam or Summer Camp.The first Bonnaroo SuperJam consisted of Michael Kang from SCI, Béla Fleck, and Robert Randolph. To put that in perspective, last year’s ensemble featured over a dozen artists including Pretty Lights, Run DMC, Rob Trujillo (Metallica), and Chance the Rapper. Cummins was actually part of the SuperJam madness in 2014.With 70,000 people attending the ‘02 Bonnaroo, that afternoon set provided one of the largest crowds UM had ever played in front of. What made it even better was that it was at a festival with a cohesive, complementary lineup that reeled in an audience that embraced their sound.“The difference between a festival, which we call a soft-ticket play, versus an ‘Evening with Umphrey’s McGee’, is somebody’s buying a ticket just to come see you at a club or theater,” said UM manager Kevin Browning. “At a festival, that’s part of the experience. You pay one price and you go and you’re excited about the bands that you’re excited about, but it’s also an opportunity to discover. For us, that was huge because it’s hard to get the word out. It was hard then and it’s hard now. If you’re good enough and you’re entertaining enough, when you go play these places and there’s new ears and eyes — we gained a lot of fans over the years from those festivals.”The rise of UM has been on a parallel path beside American music festivals, as the infrastructure beyond the gates flung them from their beaten path onto the paved one. They went from a last-line Bonnaroo artist to a festival headliner and a band that could sell out arenas and fill amphitheaters.FROM COUNTERCULTURE TO SUBCULTUREThere’s no correct or, for that matter, simple answer as to what caused the music festival boom. What is clear is that there are a number of factors that created this live music super cell.The most glaring of them is money. As ticket prices have soared, so have the profits.Complex Magazine reported that in 2014, in terms of gross revenue, Electric Daisy Carnival generated $322 million and Coachella raised $254 million. Ultra, which had nearly 200 less artists than its West Coast peers, was able to bring in $200 million.“You see the opportunity that promoters saw in large-scale events like this. They’re high-risk but they’re very high reward,” Browning explained. “From a promoter’s standpoint, if they’re doing hundreds of shows a year at bars and clubs and whatnot, the margins on a festival are a lot better than the margins on a club show. Everybody wants to throw cool events and everyone wants to throw parties, and at the end of the day, it became clear that people want to go to live music festivals and there was a demand that wasn’t being met based on the amount of traffic that they could support.”Advancements in mobile technology and the rise of social media have also played a massive role in filling out these events . Following artists and the entire music scene has never been easier, thanks to blogs (like this one) and social media platforms.Listening to music and expanding one’s palate has become an instantaneous exercise with a few swipes and thumb punches on a smart phone standing in the way. As the artist impressions stack up, so does our desire to see them beyond the screen.Since our networks are accessible within our pocket, the subconscious fear of missing out has become a potent undercurrent within the culture. Festivals like Coachella, New Orleans Jazz Fest, and Hangout began putting on live broadcasts and, since then, it’s become an integral part of extending their reach. Recap videos have become a trademarked part of the experience, helping relive the scenes and moments in a different perspective days and weeks after they’re over.Festivals offer a perfectly-packaged, sharable experience that can be linked to a hashtag and sent out into the world in a matter of seconds, creating a conversation without borders. The first weekend of Coachella 2015 garnered 3.5 million tweets. #WarpedTour was used more than 1.2 million times on Instagram last year.This technological revolution isn’t limited to our end, either. Production capabilities have bolstered performance standards, creating countless ways to deliver music that touches on all our senses.Producers and DJs have become so talented and so undeniable that electronic dance music has come out of the warehouses and into the daylight, transforming the festival culture.The IMS Business Report 2015 stated that the EDM market had reached an eye-popping $6.9 billion, and 26 percent of all nightlife events around the world were EDM related.So it’s no coincidence that some of the largest and most lucrative festivals on the planet are centered around EDM and, as it’s evolved, the drug movement that followed is simply a natural progression of it.Like LSD was to the 1960s and ‘70s, MDMA is to the right now.“This is basically the mass commercialization of an underground culture that was already alive and well,” Browning said. “There’s no doubt (the EDM) scene has been responsible for a ton of the growth, because you’re talking about a captive audience that has a relatively large disposable amount of income and they like to come together and do drugs and that was apparent to (many successful promoters out there).”For UM, climbing lineups required some sonic evolution as society’s preferences began to change. They never made a conscious effort to change their sound, but there was some natural selection involved. The desire to experiment and incorporate different equipment opened the doors to untapped electronic potential with the band’s improvisation.Many of those elements gave way to originals like “Cemetery Walk II” or “Day Nurse,” and helped UM feel comfortable in festivals like Counterpoint and Electric Forest.“I love the fact that we can cross-pollinate here and do events like Summer Camp in Illinois that are still very rooted in the live music thing … or we can be just as much as home in a more electronic environment,” Cummins said. “For that matter, I can say that we’d be just as comfortable doing an acoustic set at Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I think our versatility is something that’s really helped us continue to prosper in the festival game.”UM is just one small piece of the overall scale that began tipping toward that world.Purple Hat Production’s Paul Levine, one of the biggest forces behind Florida’s Spirit of Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP), who’s been putting on shows for more than two decades, has had a front-row seat to this shift.Levine’s view of the EDM takeover echoes Cummins’ analogy of it being a “gateway drug to more of the live performances.”“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but people just want to dance, and that music appeals to them. Some EDM appeals to really young people, but when we were all young, we had to be introduced to music in a certain way. Some of it is more sophisticated (than others),” said Levine. “Whatever gets people out to music festivals, hopefully they have an opportunity to be exposed to lots of new things. As people grow up, their tastes evolve. Some will be EDM fans for life and some may move on from that and start loving folk music or afrobeat — who knows. What I’m seeing is a lot of music fans that like all sorts of music so I think it’s important that, as time goes on, everybody is more open-minded to new music, new mediums, and new forms of creativity.”And that might be the most important place to look — at the communal mindset of people who go to festivals.“It’s generally good-willed people,” Cummins said. “I think it starts with the notion of the band, a group of musicians who are trying to create something together that is bigger than the sum of the parts … there’s some sort of interaction between the band and the audience that can be this really magical, powerful thing.”Beyond the social media or opportunities to eat drugs or chase experiences, it’s the unique chance to bond through live music with other like-minded people that’s bringing festival fans back for more.“There really is a special love that’s there that’s not the same for a big Metallica festival (for example). There’s a little more aggression and a little more angst and a little more frustration that people are taking out, and our music seems to be based on more of the ‘love your brothers and sisters’ model,” Cummins said. “In today’s times it’s become even more important and relevant. There’s just so much hate and awful bigotry out there in the world, and music is really something that brings people of all different beliefs and ethnicities and all this together. They can come together and embrace something and enjoy something without having to judge. I wish that more people were able to experience that and be able to feel that and be a part of something. The world would definitely a better place.”EFFECTS OF AN OVERSATURATED FESTIVAL SCENEObviously, there’s a cost associated with everything and, like every space that sees exponential growth, there are positive and negatives that follow.As the number of festivals continued to rise in the late-2000s, the competition and pricing market amongst them became more intense.That’s not just on tickets, either. Booking artists became increasingly difficult as the country became more densely populated with music fests. A contract’s radius clause, which limit shows an artist can play within a certain time and distance of an event, made the selection process a delicate balancing act.Naturally, the deeper the pockets a production company has, the more likely they are to win the battle.“Everyone wants to have a festival. The reason there’s so many and — particularly the big ones — there’s a lot of corporate money and sponsorship dollars (invested),” Levine said. “Businesses are putting up large amounts of money to do certain things and perhaps overpaying artists, which inflates the price structure. It’s become harder and harder for smaller, grassroots promoters to get fairer deals on headliners because they don’t have as much buying power as the bigger interests.”That’s diminished the complementary nature the festival circuit once had, and the hierarchy that’s followed has affected the sustainability of smaller, boutique events.The last year alone we’ve seen many longtime staples and household names in their respective corners of the country shut down.On June 24, 2015, one of the most beloved festivals in the Southeast, Bear Creek, had to cancel its ninth installment at SOSMP. Specifics weren’t provided with the announcement, but it’s not far-fetched to imagine the potency of Suwannee Hulaween, which drew in 20,000 people last fall, played a role. BC even tried to change its date to the first weekend in October, but it wasn’t enough to keep it afloat.Phases of the Moon moved from the headache that was Danville, Illinois to Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas for its second year, but went down in flames in September, citing “a significant number of unforeseen obstacles, including the continued closure of the only road leading into the festival site.”In the aftermath, Pipeline Productions failed to refund tickets within the 90-day window it promised, which indicated financial woes were likely to blame. According to the ongoing discussion on the Phases Facebook page, many ticket buyers have still not received refunds.That situation has even affected Pipeline’s most successful event, Wakarusa, which, after 12 years, recently announced that it will not take place in 2016. The December announcement stated that the company “was significantly damaged by partners claiming to share our vision. Sadly, they lied. They are being dealt with appropriately through the legal system.”After nearly two decades, All Good Festival announced its retirement and that it would be devolving into a two-day event at Merriweather Post Pavilion in July.“You hate to see something that’s established go, but there’s only room for so many players,” Browning said. “It’s a cutthroat world out there.”But even some of the biggest events in the country aren’t immune to the unsympathetic ways of the festival market.TomorrowWorld — one of the largest EDM festivals in the country that reeled in more than $85 million in revenue in 2014 — is not happening this year, stating last week that “unfortunately in the current environment, it is not possible to give you the best and unique experience you deserve.”TomorrowWorld came under fire on its swing day last year, after thousands of single-day festivalgoers were stranded without food, water and shelter overnight because weather conditions made roads into the festival grounds unsafe. In fear of a repeat, the festival closed the third day off to commuters, which led to refunds of 150,000 tickets for Sunday.No matter how big or how small, any festival can go under in this climate. Whether it is competition, poor money management, a disjointed lineup, a failed location change, or a haphazard planning — as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.As ugly as the economics and the corporatization of music fests might be, their existence still transcends all of the negative things that might be happening at the top.Sure, smaller festivals are becoming obsolete, but Browning doesn’t believe the oversaturation of the scene is detracting from the end-goal that inspired it.“I’m not overly-cynical about it because ultimately the experience that one person has or a group of friends has is no less powerful if it’s at an event with 1,000 people in rural Arkansas or with 100,000 people at Lollapalooza in downtown Chicago,” he said. “You’re creating moments and memories with your crew. I don’t value the experiential elements of the bigger, wealthier festivals as better than the small, more intimate, less-funded ones. It’s entirely up to the music fan. It’s what gets them off and that’s all that matters.”The festival landscape is constantly changing, and we’ll be saying goodbye to sacred grounds where countless memories were forged each and every year.For a day or maybe a week after the news breaks, we’ll reconnect with those who were with us that weekend and mourn the loss, but eventually we’ll move on because the beautiful thing about this explosion is that there’s another festival we’ve considered going to and a new lineup announcement to gush over next week.It might not be as intimate as Bear Creek or as inviting as All Good, but with your festival crew nearby, cold drink in-hand and good music on-stage, it’s still going to be one hell of a weekend.[Photos reprinted, by Dave Vann, Phierce Photo, and Patrick Hughes]last_img read more

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On climate, the young take the lead

March 1, 2021 | By admin | No Comments | Filed in: zuwcxmlkn.

first_img A red oak live tweets climate change Mercury levels in fish are on the rise Related Bernstein: That’s right. There’s a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this year that examined the disproportionate exposure to pollution and asked the further question: “Who’s actually responsible for this pollution in the first place, in terms of consumption?” And African Americans and Latinos in the United States are responsible for substantially less than their fair share. So not only are they overexposed, but they’re not the ones making it. Gazette: Do you have a favorite policy solution? Bernstein: I’ve seen several paths forward from people I trust and respect, but regardless of the policy tool, what’s critical to me is that a strong lens gets put on the health and equity implications of whatever actions we take. There are few things more important to think about than the near- and long-term health effects on children, especially children whose health is already compromised. Gazette: Given intransigence at the federal level, there’s a temptation to be pessimistic on this issue. But it seems there is also a growing groundswell, and the states have continued to do things even absent the federal government. How are you feeling about his issue now?Bernstein: I don’t have time to be pessimistic. Besides, consider the fact that the states with the highest penetration of wind energy as a percentage of their electricity generation, depending on the year, are places you might not expect: Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. We see more and more cities setting goals that include carbon neutrality, including some of the largest in the world, like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many others. Cities are where most of the carbon pollution is coming from, so that’s an encouraging sign.We see the rapid development of renewables in other countries, and I think the global economy has seen the writing on the wall, and the wise money is increasingly investing in the technology that will dominate the future global economy and get us off fossil fuels. So there are all kinds of signs that things are moving in the right direction. The question is how fast we can move these things forward. That’s one reason why the health argument is important. If parents and children recognize that their health is in play and that it could be substantially better in a world without fossil fuels, they may be more eager to move forward.Gazette: What about goals here on campus?Bernstein: I was on the University Climate Change Task Force, and I think it’s important that we acknowledge that the University’s goal for 2050 went beyond carbon neutrality to fossil-fuel free. The University moved that way out of a recognition that fossil fuels don’t just put out carbon, they put out other forms of pollution that harms people, and that if we want a healthier, more just, and sustainable world, this was the right thing to do. As part of its coverage of Climate Week (Sept. 23-29), the Gazette is running a series of stories on the issues involved, while spotlighting areas of University involvement, including research and programs designed to make a difference. For more information, visit the Tackling Climate Change site.Global one-day strikes, driven by young people demanding action against climate change, are planned for Sept. 20 and 27, sandwiched around a meeting next week of world leaders on the issue at the United Nations. The protests grew out of 15-year-old Greta Thunberg’s strike last year outside the Swedish Parliament, during which she demanded climate action. The protest caused her to miss classes, which led to strikes by other students, and now to the global protests.To understand better the issues in play and the particular dangers that climate change poses for the world’s children, the Gazette spoke with Aaron Bernstein, co-director of the Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment and a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.Q&AAaron BernsteinGazette: Global climate strikes, driven by youth, are planned for the next week. Do you see them as a good thing or a bad thing?Bernstein: The strikes make clear that our children recognize, perhaps more than us adults in the world, what’s at stake with climate change. They are going so far as to walk out of class to make us realize how much they care about this.Gazette: Adults often dismiss the protests of children because they’re seen as inexperienced and don’t understand the world. But in this case should we listen to them? Bernstein: Who has more at stake than the people on the planet who have the longest lifespans ahead of them? It may not be surprising that our children are leading on this because they’ve been educated on the subject, and many, perhaps most, adults have not. In many ways, they may understand what’s at stake for everybody, including themselves, more than the adults in the room. So there’s a compelling reason to listen to what they’re telling us about what needs to be done.Gazette: Your area of expertise is children’s health and climate. What’s at stake for them with regards to health?Bernstein: Climate change comes mostly from burning fossil fuels, and burning fossil fuels poses harms to children. Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels can damage their developing lungs and brains. Children may have lifelong health impacts from the trauma that can come with extreme weather events, like hurricanes and wildfires.On the flip side, if we fight climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, we can combat a host of childhood health problems such as obesity — arguably the single biggest threat to our children’s health today — because we’ll also have better air quality, better public transit, and more kids walking and biking. So, our fight to combat climate change is a fight for our children’s health, and when we succeed, we will have achieved an enormous health victory for our children. And what could be better than that? Gazette: What about changing patterns of disease? Will warming also bring pests and infectious disease further north?Bernstein: There’s reason to be concerned about warming and how rainfall events are becoming heavier, and what these mean for where insects that transmit disease might want to live. There’s evidence that ticks that transmit Lyme disease are moving northward into upper parts of New England, for instance. There’s some evidence that eastern equine encephalitis may be moving northward. We need to understand a lot more about how our changing climate may influence these diseases to keep people, and especially children, healthy.,What’s clear to me, though, about climate change and infections, whether we’re talking about dengue moving into the United States or other vector-borne diseases moving into New England, is that our job at controlling them doesn’t get easier as the rules of the game that govern where insects live change.Gazette: We’re essentially giving these diseases a boost? Bernstein: In places like New England, yes. In other places, where it may be too hot, we’re probably making it harder for them. Even if we don’t know precisely where and when climate change may be causing disease risk to wax or wane, one thing is for sure: We are setting ourselves up for unwelcome infectious disease surprises, and nobody I know likes those. Gazette: You testified on these issues before Congress this year. What was your reception?Bernstein: The pleasant surprise was that no one in that room — and there were people on both sides of the aisle — was debating the reality that humans are driving climate change. That was not the conversation. The conversation we did have is an important one. It was about how can we transition away from fossil fuels responsibly. There were representatives in that room who were from coal country in Kentucky, from fracking country in Ohio, and oil country in Louisiana. There were also people from California, Massachusetts, and New York, where that’s not the case.As we figure out how to prevent carbon pollution, it’s not fair to simply say “we’re going to do this,” and not think about the people who would have little, if any, economic opportunity if not for fossil fuels. We need a plan that includes them, and we’re starting to have that conversation. There’s an equity issue around making a just transition to a carbon-free economy, one that doesn’t bankrupt communities around the country. I think those who argue for decarbonization need to recognize that is part of the equation.Gazette: When you talk about equity in climate change solutions, are you talking specifically about minority populations, living in less desirable locations, near power plants, things like that?Bernstein: We know that air pollution that is associated with burning fossil fuels disproportionately affects black and Latino children in the United States. And their families are least responsible for that pollution. If we can reduce that pollution, which comes mostly from burning fossil fuels, they may benefit the most.Gazette:  And when you say they’re “least responsible,” you mean because they use those resources less? “Who has more at stake than the people on the planet who have the longest lifespans ahead of them? It may not be surprising that our children are leading on this because they’ve been educated on the subject, and many, perhaps most, adults have not.” Tree in Harvard Forest outfitted with sensors, cameras, and other digital equipment sends out on-the-ground coverage Management Company to engage directly with world’s top carbon emitters to address climate change Harvard joins Climate Action 100+ As water temperatures increase, so does risk of exposure to toxic methylmercurylast_img read more

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