Woodstock gives peace a chance – 50 years later

Written By Amanda Myers, Co-Features Editor

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The summer of ‘69 was a different time.  The country was nearly torn apart due to social unrest over the war in Vietnam and other hot button issues, but when it came to the music, the culture was in bloom, with Woodstock as the ultimate hippie mecca.

It’s been 50 years since that whirlwind weekend in August where a near one million tie dyed individuals descended upon a dairy farm in Bethel, NY.  The organizers had no idea how many people would be drawn to the message of that event, but the same spirit is expected to attract a like-minded generation to this year’s Woodstock 50.

While co-creator Michael Lang didn’t address the contradictions an event like Woodstock has in the age of selfies and Snapchat outright, he is hopeful that people, particularly millennials, will take the music for more than its face value, and utilize social media as an agent for activism akin to how people used their voices back in the 60s.

“Today, we’re experiencing similar disconnects in our country, and one thing we’ve learned is that music has the power to bring people together,” Lang said via press release. “So, it’s time to bring the Woodstock spirit back, get involved and make our voices heard.”

While Woodstock may conjure images of an aging audience sitting in lawn chairs gearing up for bands like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lang says that the lineup will be skewed more towards contemporary artists while honoring the legends that played at Woodstock through tribute sets.

So, what will the atmosphere at Woodstock 50 feel like?

The original could have been chaotic due to the crowd size, but the hippie ideals of peace and love proved a uniting factor.  In contrast, Woodstock ‘99 was a literal dumpster fire because those virtues were irrelevant in the new era.  The people that went then didn’t want peace, they wanted destruction.

Music festivals aren’t as culturally significant as they were when bands like Santana and Insane Clown Posse graced the Woodstock stage.  They’re not only increasingly frequent, but have gotten more formulaic with each passing year.

In 2018, it seemed like Jack White was on nearly every major lineup, from Governors Ball in New York, to Shaky Knees in Atlanta.  Woodstock 50’s lineup needs to have something to offer besides the repetitive recycling of B-list EDM artists and boring indie singers, or else it will remain unidentifiable come the summer music season.

The veterans of the Woodstock era had their moment to shine with Desert Trip in 2016, or what was most commonly referred to as “Oldchella.”  It was, by definition, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the remaining titans of the 60s in one place: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Roger Waters, or Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

Don’t expect to see any of these legends at Woodstock, though.  McCartney and The Stones are out on their own tours this summer, as are The Who, with a performance at PPG Paints Arena scheduled for May 30.  The Who’s Roger Daltrey told “Rolling Stone” that “they couldn’t afford us anyway!”

While it’s more plausible that there will be tributes to said artists, or a rare festival performance by a weary Dylan as a part of his never-ending-tour, the youth culture has always been at the core of Woodstock’s mission.

Bands like Greta Van Fleet and DREAMERS are likely to reflect that vibe with the odd country or pop artist thrown in, but who knows?

Fleetwood Mac have become one of millennials’ favorite rock bands thanks to Stevie Nicks entrancing gypsy magic – and regardless of the unfortunate departure of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham – fans are still clamoring to get tickets for the band’s current tour.

Pearl Jam would be another authentic choice considering their vast humanitarian efforts on behalf of Eddie Vedder’s quest for world peace.  Plus, they’re rumored to be releasing a new album this year.

As a means to sway the festival-conflicted demographic, Woodstock 50 will be releasing a limited number of pre-sale tickets for college students age 18 to 25 at the end of January before tickets become available to the general public in February, along with the official line-up announcement.

Competition comes not only in the form of notable favorites like Lollapalooza and Coachella, but in another festival that is intending to capitalize on the half-a-century milestone of Woodstock.

In conjunction with Live Nation, the Bethel Woods: Music and Culture Festival, will be held the same weekend of Woodstock 50: Aug. 16-18.

The event will speak to both the technology obsessed millennial  and the older rock fan and feature performances from prominent and emerging artists, as well as TED-style talks given by experts leading in the way in the tech field.

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