Here at Consequence of Sound, we live for music festivals. Whether the event of choice is located in a favorite city or on a field in the middle of nowhere, even the act of getting there inspires an unbearable sensation of anticipation, comparable to Christmas mornings from childhood. Over the past decade, the festival climate has changed from a handful of events to nearly every major market having a musical destination to call its own.
While the likes of Lollapalooza and Sasquatch! sold out in record time and Austin City Limits followed Coachella’s example and expanded to two identical weekends, not every fest has been a success story. The adage goes that it takes a few years for a music festival to turn a profit, and some never made it past those early days plagued by logistics and the occasional identity crisis, while others simply fell out of fashion. Here’s a look back at 20 festivals that are no longer with us.
Where: Detroit Lakes, MN
What: Four days of jamming on a scenic, lake-surrounded ranch
Who: Wilco, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, Pretty Lights, The Flaming Lips
Why: A weak economy coupled with a rise in competition rendered 10,000 Lakes financially unsustainable.
Today: The festival is missed by its fans, but there are currently no signs of a return in the near future.
All Points West
Where: Liberty State Park, NJ
What: Coachella East
Who: Radiohead (twice!), Jay-Z, Tool, My Bloody Valentine, Jack Johnson, Animal Collective, The Roots, St. Vincent
Why: According to official word from AEG in regards to a possible 2010 edition, booking suitable headliners proved too difficult. The previous year endured so much rain that ticketholders could use their Friday pass to attend Saturday or Sunday for free. Very generous, but the organizers surely lost a fortune. Attendees were limited in the number of drinks they could purchase, which was a major buzzkill, man.
Today: Naysayers claimed that New York did not need a festival since the city gets hundreds of must-see shows every year. However, there are music lovers outside the city that don’t have that luxury, and plenty of locals seeking that outdoor, multi-stage experience with a diverse offering of performers. Governors Ball Music Festival has risen to fill this void, making a return of All Points West even more unlikely.
All Tomorrows Parties US
When: 2002-2004, 2008-2012
Where: UCLA, Long Beach, Monticello, Asbury Park, NYC
What: A wet dream for indie rock and noise snobs
Who: Lou Reed, My Bloody Valentine, Modest Mouse, Portishead, Aphex Twin, Jeff Mangum, Cat Power, Frank Ocean, Sonic Youth, The Stooges
Why: Expenses were high and ticket sales were low enough that ATP went into liquidation last year.
Today: As of 2014, even ATP festivals in the UK are going to be of the I’ll Be Your Mirror stye and not in holiday camps. Plans for any events in the US are currently on hold as ATP explores other countries and waits for the market to improve.
Where: Los Angeles, CA
What: Intimate festival with a lineup carefully curated by Arthur Magazine to focus more on cult acts than buzz bands
Who: Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, The Black Keys, Yoko Ono, Cat Power, Merzbow, Marissa Nadler, Olivia Tremor Control
Why: The event reportedly sold out, so it’s a mystery.
Today: FYF Fest has exploded in popularity and size, so Los Angeles could still use a smaller affair loaded with experimental, esoteric acts.
Where: Miami, FL
What: A music festival in Miami? What can go wrong?
Who: Daft Punk, Duran Duran, Modest Mouse, TiÃ«sto
Why: Despite the presence of Daft Punk, the event still flopped financially. A 2007 edition at Bayfront Park Amphitheater featuring Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins, and no EDM was half-announced but promptly “postponed.”
Today: Bang! is just one of many Florida festivals that didn’t last.
Be the Riottt!
Where: San Francisco, CA
What: A fantastic lineup from Riottt, the former online community of parties interested in all things left-of-center
Who: Metric, The Rapture, Girl Talk, Explosions in the Sky, Asobi Seksu, Clipse, Deerhoof
Why: Unknown, but Riottt.com is currently down, with a promise of a future relaunch.
Today: A festival in one of our greatest cities that brings together indie, hip-hop, and electronic offerings? Say hello to Treasure Island.
Where: Los Angeles, CA
What: An early attempt at establishing a mid-sized festival in Los Angeles
Who: Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, Blonde Redhead, Justice, Bloc Party, The Mars Volta, Gogol Bordello, Basement Jaxx
Why: Maybe it’s because the festival fell during that time known as Rocktober, when the Los Angeles concert market is ridiculously swarmed nightly with several gigs of a can’t-miss nature, and added to the conflicts rather than eliminating some. In any case, it never found a large audience.
Today: After teaming up with Goldenvoice, FYF Fest more or less absorbed Detour.
Where: East Rutherford, NJ
What: A doomed attempt at festivaling in New York.
Who: Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Blur, Elliott Smith, My Morning Jacket
Why: Field Day was intended to be a two-day camping event in Long Island, but permits were denied and the festival was trimmed to a single day and relocated to Giants Stadium at the last minute.
Today: See All Points West.
Where: Kansas City, KS
What: Two days of familiar festival fare in the often under-toured American Heartland
Who: The Black Keys, Muse, Girl Talk
Why: Organizers canceled a planned 2013 event with artists such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Passion Pit, TiÃ«sto, and She & Him due to low ticket sales.
Today: Omaha’s Maha Music Festival and Des Moines’ 80/35 are offering discounted passes for Kanrocksas ticket holders.
Where: Various locations throughout Florida, most notably Markham Park and Seminole Big Cypress Indian Reservation
What: Lets jam, then stop.
Who: R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Phil Lesh, Trey Anastasio, STS9, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket
Why: A move away from the festival’s jamband roots in favor of more mainstream festival fare as well as a planned move to Miami’s Bicentennial Park proved too alienating for Langerado’s fanbase, and a planned 2009 event starring starring Death Cab for Cutie and Snoop Dogg was canceled due to weak ticket sales.
Today: Bonnaroo proves that transitioning away from jambands is a delicate, gradual process. Besides, unless Deadmau5 is playing and someone’s guaranteed to be dropping “Levels”, a festival in Miami is probably doomed. Promoters once again attempted a revival in 2011 (also headlined by Death Cab for Cutie), but that event was also never to be.
When: 1997-1999, 2010
What: Traveling festival showcasing female-fronted bands and solo artists
Who: Sarah McLachlan, Fiona Apple, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow
Why: Ticket sales for a 2010 revival were disappointing, with several shows canceled or moved to smaller venues. In between making everyone cry with those SPCA commercials, McLachlan declared Lilith Fair to be over.
Today: A recent article on Buzzfeed asked, “Where are all the women at Coachella?” However, it missed the larger picture. The music industry is as guilty as ever of marginalizing female artists, even on the allegely forward-thinking festival side. In Coachella’s defense, female-fronted acts generally account for less than 20% of a festival lineup, with the percentage at the Indio excursion actually being higher than others, such as ATP and Primavera Sound. Hopefully a promoter will come along and shed the unfortunate tradition of repeatedly booking the same male-fronted acts while ignoring or outright turning away the women that have given the world some amazing music.