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.
Where: Red Rocks
What: A boutique festival in a legendary venue starring the usual suspects.
Who: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Mars Volta, Justice, Method Man & Redman
Why: Following a storm-plagued 2009 edition, organizers cited the economy and rain as reasons for the event’s demise and that they were seeking a buyer for the festival.
Today: Organizers turned to Kickstarter, but pledges totaled a mere $2,980 of their $38,000 goal.
Where: Oxford, ME
What: Another short-lived event with a jam-centric lineup, but this time in the unlikely state of Maine.
Who: The Flaming Lips, Furthur, moe., Passion Pit, George Clinton & P-Funk
Why: Organizers pulled the plug on a prospective 2011 edition, citing slow ticket sales and a crowded market, along with difficulties securing permits and artists.
Today: Nateva founder Frank Chandler reportedly expressed hope that the festival would one day return, but that was over three years ago.
Where: Orlando, FL
What: A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, courtesy of Festival Republic. Yes, the same Festival Republic that’s behind Reading/Leeds, Electric Picnic, and formerly Glastonbury.
Who: Pixies, The Raconteurs, The Killers, Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Blake Shelton
Why: Low attendance and the ongoing curse against Florida festivals that arent Ultra.
Today: It’s never a good sign when a festival’s Facebook is removed and the official website is replaced with a “Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)” message.
Ozzfest (Sort of.)
When: 1996-2008, 2010, 2013
Where: Most recently, Chiba, Japan. Formerly all over the US.
What: A day of beer chugging, head banging, and Satan
Who: Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, System of a Down, Pantera, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Crazy Town
Why: Let’s just blame nu-metal.
Today: Ozzfest is still around, but just as an on-again, off-again once-a-year event, rather than an annual tour guaranteed to be coming soon to an amphitheater near you.
Where: Pemberton, BC
What: Three days of music and camping surrounded by the beauty of The Great White North
Who: Jay-Z, Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, The Flaming Lips, The Tragically Hip, Deadmau5
Why: The inaugural Pemberton was plagued by logistical nightmares such as severe traffic woes and a limited-capacity dance tent that doubled as the only place to get cocktails.
Today: The continued absence of a major camping festival in Canada is a complete mystery.
Where: Rothbury, MI
What: Besides a mix of jam-oriented rock, dance, hip-hop, and other oddities, there was Sherwood Forest, a wooded area full of relaxation spots, secret performance spaces, and multimedia art installations perfect for attendees tripping on psychedelics.
Who: Trey Anastasio, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews Band, The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, The Dresden Dolls
Why: Rothbury’s first edition was a success and still remembered fondly by fans. After a less successful 2009 event that almost never happened, organizers lamented the inability to secure a solid lineup for the following year thanks to scheduling conflicts, while stating an intent to return in 2011.
Today: In 2011, the unaffiliated Electric Forest Festival came to town and is scheduled to take over the Double JJ Resort for a third time at the end of June.
Sunset Junction Street Fair
Where: Los Angeles, CA
What: Live music from local and international artists, plus carnival rides and food
Who: Elliott Smith, Isaac Hayes, The Black Keys, Warpaint, Buzzcocks, John Cale, Chaka Khan
Why: Permits were denied for 2011, and the promoters owed the city over $200,000 in unpaid fees, eventually filing for bankruptcy.
Today: This long-standing tradition is close to forgotten thanks to FYF and Culture Collide.
When: We’re still waiting.
Where: Miami, FL
What: Proof that not even Yeezus himself can save a Florida festival
Who: Kanye West, Lenny Kravitz, Lou Reed, Dead Can Dance, Flying Lotus
Why: Organizers postponed the event, blaming the continued effects of Hurrcane Sandy, although the storm never actually hit Miami.
Today: Ticketholders are still seeking refunds, and the powers that be will see each other in court.
Where: Las Vegas, NV
What: Music festival + Vegas + Halloween = perfect storm of partying
Who: Daft Punk, Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Tom Petty, Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh, Queens of the Stone Age, Fiona Apple
Why: Vegoose transitioned from primarily a jamband fest to an event featuring the two big festival bookings of the year (Daft Punk and Rage Against the Machine), but never found an audience large enough for sustainability. Musically, the city favors superstar DJs over jam and indie, and Las Vegas already has so much going on during Halloween that getting a reasonably priced hotel can be difficult.
Today: The promoters moved on to co-create San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival with Another Planet Entertainment, who will debut the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas this October.