Are Music Fests Getting Political?

Photo Credit: YouTube

Festival season is almost upon us. This year, most U.S states are hosting four or more music festivals throughout the spring, summer and fall. Coachella, which had its first event back in 1993, is being credited as the music event that revitalized the festival scene.

Music festivals, at least here in the United States, have long targeted their music to specific segments of society. Warped Tour and Lollapalooza catered to metal lovers, the Newport Jazz Festival showcased that category, and the Winter Music Conference was a playground for EDM lovers. Music aficionados who embraced more than one genre would have to hop from one big fest that showcased one musical style to another event that catered to a different one.

Photo Credit: PJ Gach

And as the years have progressed, general admission tickets skyrocketed to the point where many festivals, including Governor’s Ball, now offer lay-a-way packages for basic entry fees. Festivals have also become the place to be “seen,” and a required stop for celebs and those in search of photo ops. They also became an advertising agency or branding company’s wet dream — and a consumer’s nightmare. After all, if we’re repeatedly told that a brand of, say, flower crowns or beer is the only one to own, and to buy anything else is shameful, festival-goers will blindly throw money at being “on fleek.” And as festivals birthed other festivals, and existing ones became bigger and bigger, they also began to draw in a multi-culti crowd, but the music stayed (pretty much) as segmented as it was in the past.

Until this year.

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Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead are headlining Coachella, while U2 is making its first U.S festival appearance at Bonnaroo. Tool, Wu-Tang Clan and Chance the Rapper are headlining New York City’s Governor’s Ball. The stage and the audience are now equally diverse. More importantly, each of the headliners is known for taking strong socio-political stances. One wonders who among them will join the wave of the anti-Trump political movement that’s currently sweeping the nation. Or maybe the pro-Trump movement that got him elected in the first place?

While other high profile festivals like Pitchfork haven’t released a lineup yet, there’s a strong supposition that it could be very similar to the ones mentioned above. It seems like this year’s festival trend, music-wise, is to engage politically active artists of every genre and host them in the same venue. For example, Stagecoach, the huge country music fest, has Cyndi Lauper performing, and Miami’s Ultra Music Festival — an EDM event, has Ice Cube sharing the bill with Sasha and Digweed.

This could be a summer of incredible once-in-a-lifetime musical events and political activism never seen before at music festivals across the nation. Unfortunately, Bonnaroo sold out long before they released their lineup, Coachella sold out in minutes, and other fests have tickets that are going quickly. Use Music Festival Wizard to find information on festivals throughout the world. To acquire tickets to sold out events, only use reputable resellers and stay away from Craigslist, where scams abound. For the other fests that are happening this year, sign up for email notifications and hope for the best.

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