Music festivals have evolved since Woodstock

Photo courtesy of Danny Howe via Unsplash

By Jenna Baker

From Coachella to the upcoming event Rolling Loud, over 800 music festivals are located just in the U.S., according to Deployed Resources. Since Woodstock in 1969, people have been obsessed with the idea of music festivals, where hundreds of thousands of people meet to dance and sing the day away to the best artists. There is a community element of music festivals where people with similar tastes in music can experience their passion together.

Music festivals date all the way to about 6 BC when the Pythian Games took place. During these games it was common for there to be competitions in poetry, drama, and song. 

Although Woodstock was not the first American music festival, it was certainly the first to become a cultural phenomenon. Woodstock struck the attention of people all over the world when the rock festival brought peace and great vibes to those who joined one another at the event. 

Woodstock ‘94 was an American music festival that sought to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original Woodstock. They faced uncomfortable rainy weather, bad sanitation, muddy floors, as well as a lack of food and water. Despite the challenges, the Woodstock revival was considered a success and even took place again in 1999. Many of this generation were excited to experience the cultural event that their parents found so memorable.

“I wish I experienced that first Woodstock. The music was revolutionary at that time and it really changed music in general. Woodstock was all about peace, love, and connecting with other human beings. Now it’s sort of a fight to the stage. I would love to see festivals return to their roots,” senior Kira Flowers said.

The beginning of modern music festivals has roots in the first Coachella in 1999. Coachella was a two-day festival, including artists such as Beck, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and many more. 

Coachella is a very diverse festival including artists from many genres. The fact that Coachella takes place outdoors in the desert has given it an air of freedom of expression, whether that is in terms of music or fashion. 

Throughout the evolution of music festivals, the use of social media has become an integral element. Music festivals are seen as aesthetically pleasing and trendy, adding color and noise to a social media feed. Many people go to music festivals to snap content for their accounts and leave, while others spend their time enjoying the music in front of them. 

Even since Woodstock, there have been downsides to music festivals, however.

“Security is a big issue. Incidents that happen are known, people get overly excited and don’t know what to do with themselves at times, although performers are more proactive with resolving this issue now,” sophomore Brooke Drew said.

There was an incident at Astroworld, for example, where the audience at Travis Scott’s concert got extremely chaotic leaving some people injured or even dead. 

However, at most festivals, artists are good at controlling their audiences, making incidents less likely. 

A bigger drawback to festivals is having multiple stages with overlapping concerts.

“I don’t like the fact that I need to choose between seeing one artist over another artist at times when playing times overlap each other,” Flowers said.

Despite issues like these, festivals offer audiences diverse genres of music and a sense of community

The next American festival is Rolling Loud, a Hip-Hop festival that will take place next month in Florida. Rolling Loud has an exciting lineup, including many famous rappers such as Playboi Carti, Future, Lil Uzi Vert and many more. With tickets selling out fast and the date just around the corner, Rolling Loud is getting much more hype than it has in years prior.