It looks like there will be dueling Woodstock 50th anniversary concerts this summer. Michael Lange, one of the original organizers of the 1969 festival, made a preliminary announcement about his plan to stage an anniversary concert months ago. Now, Live Nation, the concert conglomerate with tentacles that reach into multiple sectors of the entertainment and live performance industries, has confirmed that it will stage a three day festival on the original site. Dubbed the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, the August 16,17 & 18 lineup of the Live Nation event is likely to benefit from the business associations the company has established with many of the world's biggest touring acts. It will be interesting to see whether they aim to book kind of homogeneous Rock acts that brought so many like minded people together and kept things peaceful, or diversify the lineup by adding some of their big alternative, pop, country and other genre artists, an approach that backfired badly for the organizers of Woodstock '99. That festival, staged at a former air force base in Rome, New York, ended in chaos with arson and numerous assaults.
One thing is all but certain with Live Nation in control; unless they can prevail on acts to accept offers that allow them to keep ticket prices reasonable, the price of attending will reflect the prices the lineup commands. It's easy to forget or never to have know that most of the bands at the original concert were in their very early stages and not that expensive to book and several of the biggest bands at the time were not affordable or looked at the location and took a pass, thinking it was too remote to draw a big enough crowd to be worth playing at. Of course, many of the original festival's acts have retired or passed on.
If the 2019 event at Bethel is loaded with A list acts playing for the fees they are accustomed to commanding, count on a beer costing something approaching the cost of a 3 day ticket $24) to the 1969 Woodstock.
How does Michael Lange counter, if he does at all? Are there enough artists with an allegiance to him and appreciation of the vibe of the original festival for him to put together an event much more in keeping with the original festival? Neil Young comes to mind. The 1969 Woodstock was only Young's second appearance as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Neil has a pretty steady history of being willing to thumb his nose or flip a middle digit at corporations. A few others in the original lineup and a good number of up-and-comers could think doing a solid for a guy who risked so much to put together the biggest party the planet had ever seen 50 years ago would be a good thing to do.