Infographic: How Have Smartphones Changed The Festival Experience?

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This is a very interesting infographic via the Hypebot about the historic evolution of the smartphone and its impact on the music experience since Woodstock.

There’s some good data points in here. But what this infographic really reminds of is our chat with Alex from StagePage about mobile apps and how we need to foster more context and meaning around all the media that concert fans create during shows. I’d like to see an infographic that illustrates that conversation.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll share your story on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Does Your 3D Concert DVD Wish List Look Like This?

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Like we did last week, it’s time once again to dream about concerts in 3D.

But in this exploration, we’re going to dive a little deeper and wonder about “remastered” Blu-ray concert DVDs, and do some virtual time traveling as we dream about the ultimate 3D concert wish list.

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What Are Woodstock’s Most Important and Surprising Artifacts?

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Bethel Woods Woodstock Festival Experience
Last year Woodstock celebrated its forty year anniversary. And this summer, The Museum at Bethel Woods is inviting all Woodstock attendees and 1960s enthusiasts to be part of preserving history for generations to come.

Without a doubt, Woodstock is a major turning point and defining moment in the history of live music. But what do these newly released artifacts tell us about its legacy and lasting impact on the modern musical festival?

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Why Does Woodstock Matter To You?

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Watching a video like the one above always makes me wish there was a way to travel back in time to visit live music history’s most influential concerts. Part of me thinks that if I could just get a taste or feel of the atmosphere it would help add more context to the reviews I write.

Why do I think this?  Well, for me, watching movies and reading about generation defining live music events sometimes is just not enough. And I always struggle with the fact that because I was born in a certain decade I will never be able to know exactly what it was like. 

I have a list of  historic concerts that I wish I could’ve been there to experience myself instead of reading about them.  But the hard truth is that time traveling Deloreans don’t exist (yet).  But ever since I took a rock music history class in college, I’ve always appreciated a different kind of time travel, the opportunity to learn through the eyes of others. Good old fashioned storytelling and music journalism, that is!

That said, it’s no secret that this post is about Woodstock 1969. And over  last several weeks I set out to challenge myself to read as many articles as I could about it’s 40th anniversary to see if what I know about Woodstock holds true and has any significance to live music today. 

In short, Woodstock is legendary because it does have an impact on live music culture. And in my reading I had the pleasure of putting the historic concert in proper context and learn even more about the events leading up to Woodstock. And more importantly, I learned what it was like from the perspective of the promoters, the bands and the fans. 

My journey back to ponder the meaning of Woodstock over the last couple months was primed at Rothbury Music Festival in July.  Photographer/artist Leni Sinclair who shot at Woodstock, and who developed her career by taking photos of several of rock’s icons, joined the other Rothbury photographers for a group photo to celebrate shooting The Dead on Saturday night. (see an interview with Sinclair here courtesy of BackstageGallery.com)

Then, as my reading about Woodstock continued, I began to wonder… 

Is live music better off forty years after Woodstock? 

Have we improved on the practice and the business of putting on live music festivals? 

In some ways, yes, we have.

 And in other ways, no.

I say “yes and no” because as I read and listened to others talk about Woodstock I was left with mixed feelings. I was left questioning if we’ve really learned anything from Woodstock  (or what happened a few months later at Altamont) and applied it to how we put on, and what we take away as fans, from music festivals in 2009. 

With the recent flood of summer music festivals over the last few years, I’ve asked myself  ‘what has Lollapalooza’s Perry Ferrell learned from Woodstock?  How about Glastonbury and Coachella promoters?  Do they see it as carrying on the legacy, or creating their own? And what do all these festivals have to say, or contribute, when it comes to learning and building upon the “Spirit” of Woodstock and progressing the music festival experience as a whole?’

You can join with me in answering these questions by taking a look at some of the articles I read (and please send along any you’ve enjoyed, too).

Here are excerpts from, and links to, 3 of the articles I read–and as you read them encourage you to ask  yourself…

If you were going to put on a summer music festival, what would you do differently than the Woodstock promoters?

And since the fans where just as important to the Woodstock  experience as the bands were, what do we as fans have to contribute to the progressing of summer music festivals? 

 

This article,  from Popmatters’s feature of the book 1969: The Year Everything Changed (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009),  took away some of the myths and romantismof Woodstock and revealed just how fresh and new to live performance many of the artists were and how fans were responding  (with love and anger) to the live music experience as it unfolded in 1969:

On June 20–22, 1969, the summer festival season kicked off with the Newport Pop Festival at San Fernando Valley State on Devonshire Downs in Northridge, California. A crowd of 150,000, the largest recorded gathering for an outdoor music festival to that date, witnessed a show featuring such acts as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Byrds, The Rascals, the Chamber Bros.Three Dog Night, and Booker T. & the MGs. After what was described as a subparperformance on Friday night, Hendrix returned on Sunday afternoon and jammed with an all-star band that included Eric Burdonand Buddy Miles .A week later, he headlined the bill of the Denver Pop Festival at Mile High Stadium, which also included Johnny Winter, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Poco, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Iron Butterfly, Three Dog Night, Tim Buckley and Big Mama Thornton.

Both three-day festivals were marred by riots as police battled thousands of gate-crashers, and the attendees went a little wild themselves. At Newport Pop, fans dangled from the front of the stage as they tried to climb up during Hendrix’s Sunday jam. At Denver Pop, police fired tear gas at the crowd during the Experience’s set. The trio was rushed offstage and into an equipment truck. Fans climbed onto the truck and almost caused the roof to cave in while the band was trapped inside. It would be the last gig played by the Experience. Disillusioned by the whole scene and by the new directions that Hendrix wanted to take, bassist Noel Redding left the group immediately afterward and returned to London….. In the first weekend of July, a record 85,000 people attended the 1969 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, an event that was perhaps even more controversial than the Newport Folk Festival in 1965…”

 

I read this review of the Heroes of Woodstock–a concert designed to celebrate Woodstock. But as the review points out, the concert was a depressing facsimile that showed how unprogressive celebrating Woodstock can really be:

Things were different, to say the least. There was no gate crashing, no mud, no shortage of food, no warnings of bad LSD. The sold-out crowd of 15,000 was less than 5 percent of Woodstock’s estimated attendance.

There were restrictions: Most of the original festival’s natural amphitheater was off limits. (The stage was elsewhere, under a shed roof with reserved seats and lawn seating beyond.) Marijuana fumes were still in the air, but not so thick.

Last, but certainly not least, here’s a NY Times article from a few months back that interviews the original Woodstock promoters as they struggle to decide whether or not they’re even going to have a 40th celebration:

“My feeling is let’s come back when that is the case,” Mr. Rosenmansaid. “And Michael’s position is let’s do what we can now with less resources.” One thing Mr. Lang and Mr. Rosenman agree about is that they are not trying to mine Woodstock for money. The 1969 event left Woodstock Ventures more than $1 million in debt. The most successful spinoff, the three-hour concert movie directed by Michael Wadleigh, has grossed more than $60 million, but most of the profit has gone to Warner Brothers.

At the moment, the two partners’ most tangible project is Woodstock.com, a Web site scheduled to go up in June.”

 

Woodstock.com does a good job of giving fans a place to re-live and reflect on the meaning of Woodstock, especially this fan “I came to Woodstock to Die in 1969…” forum story.

But what about 2009 and beyond?

If you had to pick a festival, or a live music experience, that defines your generation, or this decade, which festival would you choose?

 

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Inside the Music Pt 1: Woodstock ’94 vs. Summer Camp 2008

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This is Part One of a two part post inspired while I caught some rest between sets at Summer Camp 2008. I propped myself up against a tree in the shade and starting reading Inside the Music, a book of artist interviews I came across recently written by pop culture writer Dimitri Ehrlich.

For this first post I’ve pulled a portion of his recounting of Woodstock ’94, where he vividly describes the horrible scene that more closely resembled a “war zone” than a rock concert. I share it with you because what I was reading was in such drastic contrast to the environment that surrounded me. The passage was also a stark reminder of how bad Woodstock ’94 really was and what can happen when a festival turns into a nightmare(and remember, this is, of course, a less-severe scene compared to what would happen five years later at Woodstock ’99 ).

In Part Two, I’ll share a portion of Ehrlich’s interview with Perry Farrell and explain how reading the interview brought some perspective and insight to some of my Lollapalooza and other Farrell concert experiences. Both posts will fit in nicely as a contextual primer as Lollapalooza 2008 is just around the corner in a few days.

As I sat among the crowd at Summer Camp and read Ehrlich’s Woodstock ’94 account, I glanced back and forth from the page to the generally relaxed and chillin’ Summer Camp crowd and thought about how something like both Woodstock scenes could even begin to happen at Summer Camp or any of the other festivals I’ve been to in the last few years. I also wondered how much of an impact the Woodstock disasters have had on planning and promoting of future festivals.

Ehrlich’s eerie, disturbing and unsettling account is below. And during his account he uses Farrell’s Woodstock ’94 performance as a segue into the interview, during which a younger Farrell, back in 1997, answers questions about his artistic vision, which after reading have forced me to revisit some of my past comments about Perry Farrell and his m.o. as a festival creator and performer. 20/20 hindsight always helps but not always a luxury when reviewing concerts.

“You haven’t really experienced true mud until you’ve slogged through a field where half a million white people have just spent forty-eight hours throwing the ultimate frat party in the pouring rain. The mud was mixed with sweat, urine, and beer and tromped into ghoulish oatmeal. Kids were running and diving head first into it. Line and line of young men who looked strangely like marines, leading face forward into the earth. It was unhygienic. One kid had a bloody lip, another had a gash on the bridge of his nose, but there was no concern for germs. A girl with no shirt was being photographed as she rubbed her muddy breasts together. A young hairdresser from Long Island stabbed a can of beer with a pen knife so she could drink it from a small puncture she’d made in the side. “It’s called a shotgun. It gets you drunk faster. I wanna get wasted.”

“The mud took on its own visceral beauty, like luscious chocolate icing that some benevolent baker had spread all over the earth….I was going to slush through the crud to test some of the Woodstock pizza, but the shit stink was burning my eyes….the collective grumpiness factor was reaching a threshold point (alcoholics can only goes so far to ameliorate conditions of prolonging physical unpleasantries, particularly when the misery is not only self-inflicted but in many cases cost $135 a ticket.) The odor was so severe that although I am allergic to cigarette smoke, I was begging my Quaker friend to smoke a cigarette and blow the smoke in my face. Cancer before shit death.”

“A disturbingly steady flow of bodies were being carried out on stretchers. Afterward, one of the directors of medical services said he would have preferred to have been in the Vietnamese or Korean War for those forty eighty hours.”

Usually I do bring a book to read at some point at a music festival when I’m looking for a moment of rest and sonic escape, but I was a bit ambushed by this tragic account and surprised at how much this serendipitous reading pertained to and contrasted my current relaxed and laid-back Summer Camp experience.

What I was reading didn’t even come close to resembling the environment that surrounded me, but the account did remind me how bad my fellow music fans can get and how destructive something as simple as a music festival can become.

Like Ehrlich, I began to wonder what was it that had ignited such destructiveness and brutality at a festival that was to promote peace and community. As fans, I know we bring a whole suitcase full of emotions to a show and some of us see the live show as a moment of release and some of us see the show as a moment of reflection—and usually it a small unruly minority that see it fit to work out their emotions in a fit of rage and destruction that cause fear and pain for everyone, fan and artist. Why does this happen? To answer that question I’ll have to talk more with my friends who are experts at understanding human behavior and psychology. I have a few theories, but I’ll get back to you after I talk with the experts themselves.

If you attended Woodstock ’94 or ’99 or any other festival that was a disaster, I’d like to learn about your account and hear your thoughts on why things like this happen. Leave a comment or drop me an email.

Coming up…

Part Two: Rethinking Perry Farrell.

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