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Summer Music Festivals

A Tale Of Similar Sounds

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Mumford & Sons will appear at Bonnaroo and Sasquatch festivals in 2013. Image by Michael Dombierer and used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.
Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo Have Released Their 2013 Lineups With Old Acts, Big Time Performers And A Lack Of The Regional Flavor That Established Their Reputations

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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 22, 2013 — Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Sasquatch have all released their lineups and not only are they all littered with acts that will be in or around Phoenix very soon, they all look extremely similar.

At last count, no less than 18 acts are appearing in at least two of the big festivals and I’m sure with a deeper examination of the lineups, more could be found that are playing two, or even all three.

As ticket prices to these wannabe Woodstock festivals skyrocket past the $350 mark, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that whichever one I choose to dump my money into brings some originality, is it?

At the festivals, they always talk about how each has their own distinct flavor that can’t be found anywhere else.

Coachella brags of their “L.A. Attitude,” Bonnaroo of its “down south, jam-band vibes,” and Sasquatch is supposed to be sprinkled with a dash of Washington.

But unless California, Tennessee, and Washington all taste the same, the carbon copy lineups are not allowing the crowds to savor the local flavor at all.

Now I’m not saying that the festivals should be forced to cater exclusively to local acts, but all of these festivals were started with the intent of bringing a regional flavor to the masses, not to showcase the same bands over and over.

I enjoy Mumford and Sons as much as the next guy, but I got enough of them at the Grammy’s, really didn’t need them headlining Sasquatch, and then coming back to Bonnaroo just two years after their first ‘Roo appearance.

I was there in 2011 when Derek Vincent Smith — aka Pretty Lights — blew the roof off of That Tent down on the farm. The rising star not only played his biggest song to date “I Know The Truth,” for the first time ever, but the Colorado native also played until sunrise.

Though I know the truth of the matter is the EDM dynamo will probably do it again, his performance is cheapened by his appearance on both ‘Roo and Coachella’s lineup, coming one year after headlining Sasquatch and Wakarusa.

But festivals can also go the complete opposite directions from inviting regulars, and invite a 1980’s band that nobody knows.

Excuse me Coachella, but for $399 dollars I would prefer a headliner that has made new music later than 1994.

If you’re going to pick a band that has been broken up for decades to be your headliner make it Floyd, Zeppelin or reincarnate The Beatles, cause The Stone Roses are not cutting it at those prices.

I know this might sound like blasphemy to some, but if the lineups can’t stand on their own and still be interesting and in some way keep to the form of their predecessors, perhaps it is time for them to go on hiatus until they can.

Or perhaps switch to a bi-yearly — or less — format to keep the festivals worthwhile, especially if they are going to continue to charge an arm and a leg.

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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