I feel like most people would describe me as go-with-the-flow. Most of the time, my texts in a group chat about plans sound like “whatever works for everyone!” and “sounds good to me!”. This isn’t because I don’t care about whatever dinner or trip we’re brainstorming, rather it’s because I just kind of enjoy being along for the ride. Fun to me is just everyone else having fun! (It should be noted that therapists have also told me that I’m extremely codependent, but that’s for another time.)
This, along with a relocated friend, is how I wound up camping in the fields of Tennessee for an
eternity long weekend. This is also how I learned that music festivals, like tank tops and Game of Thrones, just aren’t for me. Both because of interests and my body type.
It all started in a harmless fashion, someone sending a link to tickets in a group chat saying “omggg let’s go!”. Usually, when things like this happens, what follows is just a symphony of “oh for sure!”’s until no one ever addresses it again. Easy. Except this time, there was an added element: I had a friend who recently moved to Tennessee (a state I only sort of knew existed beforehand), and the ticket link was for Bonnaroo—a music festival in *survey says* Tennessee. This upped the ante, so we all decided to pool our funds together and buy wristbands and camping passes for three days.
I obviously agreed to go on this adventure with friends, because I always love spending weekends with friends! The dots I forgot to connect, though, were that how I usually love spending those weekends are sitting in a chair in an air-conditioned space with cell reception and a glass of Pinot Noir. Cut to me sitting in between a Walmart bag of tent supplies and an almost equally-sized bag of Doritos. Baby, let the games begin?
I don’t know why it didn’t click to me that when you’re camping, it’s actually camping. Despite being told “we’ll be sleeping in a tent,” I feel like my mind just equated a tent to an RV, JoJo style.
There’s a lot that people don’t tell you about music festivals when they talk about music festivals. I’ve heard about how seeing DJ Panda Bear or whoever on molly was “literally life changing” 800 times, but I’ve never ONCE been told about hammering a tent pole into the ground at 7am with a handle of Svedka because you don’t have a hammer. Once your tent is set up as much as a tent can get set up by the hands of five twenty-somethings from the Tri-State area, you unpack your things and… sit waiting for music to start. Okay, I can get down with chugging PBR and waiting for Chance the Rapper. I think I’m back on the bandwagon… until I see the map of where the music actually is.
Basically, getting from your campgrounds to where the festival actually is can only be described as the journey you would take on the Oregon Trail. Except instead of contracting Cholera, you just run the risk of ruining every girl named Lindsay’s Instagram photo. After trekking, we made it in to the festival grounds and I immediately was confused: was this a festival about music or a festival of people who love lines? Cause that’s almost exclusively what I saw.
The crowds of people didn’t seem to mind waiting 25 minutes for vegan hot dogs in the heat, but I’m someone who is always a little sweaty and has minimal patience when it comes to food. I think my main issue was that I lack the *chill* factor that makes music festivals enjoyable for everyone else. I don’t want to smoke in a circle on the dirt, I want to have a dirty martini. Is that too much to ask, outdoors? Speaking of the outdoors, I think the moment I realized that this life wasn’t the life for me was when I filled a jug of water with a hose to pour on myself as “a shower.” Very different from my Sunday ritual of taking a bath with a piece of eucalyptus hanging from the faucet.
Despite having my basic rights stripped away from me (air conditioning), I do have to admit that it was a pretty amazing experience to be away from cell service, responsibilities, and the realities of the world for a few days and have nothing to worry about besides being able to get the best spot to cry along to Lorde songs live. After the weekend, I realized two things: not everything is for me and to never insult people who use the phrase “glamping” again, because I think they’re now my family.
While I quickly realized music festivals weren’t for me, I’m glad I went to test the waters—and water pressure of the hose I used as a shower. It was a fun experience that did make me feel instantly younger—until I woke up hungover in 98 degree heat from four beers and very much felt my age. All that said, will happily take any free VIP tickets from anyone to anything!
Images: @hannynaibaho / Unsplash; Giphy
We’re officially in the lead-up to festival season, which means new lineups are being announced almost daily. While we’ve already talked about the disappointingly male-heavy Coachella lineup, and which Bachelor alums will be getting hot and heavy at Stagecoach, but this week, we got a look at the lineup for Lovers & Friends, a new festival in LA this May, and it almost seems too good to be true. Stacked with iconic rappers pretty much from top to bottom, people were quick to question the legitimacy of the lineup, and basically all of Twitter was already calling Lover & Friends the next Fyre Festival.
So, first of all, let’s talk about this lineup. Usher, Ludacris, and Lil Jon could all be headliners on their own, so it’s crazy that they’re sharing one slot. I would pay a premium JUST to see TLC. Megan Thee Stallion and Summer Walker are two of the biggest newer artists in hip hop. And Ms. Lauryn Hill? A total legend, even if the chances that she shows up on time are slim to none. When it comes to hip hop festivals, it’s hard to imagine a better lineup than this. And, because they’ve been burned before, people were skeptical.
And all of the questions weren’t without good reason. While many of the artists on the lineup have posted about the festival, some have posted cryptic messages or outright denials. Lil Kim, one of my favorite messy queens, posted on her IG story, saying that the lineup is “so fake” and that she’s “not a part of this.” Yikes.
But Lil Kim later deleted her story, and we got clarification on what happened from none other than Snoop Dogg. Snoop, who says he’s one of the booking agents and promoters for Lovers & Friends, posted a video on Instagram, asking Lil Kim to hit him up in the DMs. He says that his team was in contact with someone who claimed to be on Kim’s team, but obviously they got scammed or something. He’s adamant that he wants to “get you this money,” so we’ll see if they’re able to work something out.
While it seems that Lil Kim’s inclusion was a genuine misunderstanding, she wasn’t the only artist to call out the new festival on Instagram. In a comment on the lineup post, Mase was not thrilled with his inclusion. Honestly, this comment is me any time I’m included in a meeting that I don’t actually need to be in. Best of luck, but miss me with that sh*t.
Twista also had something to say in the comments, but later changed his tune, presumably when the deposit hit his account. As someone who’s been a freelancer in the past and sometimes had to beg to get paid, I respect this!! Twista got his bag, so now it’s all good.
But aside from these few artists speaking out publicly, fans noticed that a couple artists on the lineup were now double-booked. In particular, Megan Thee Stallion is scheduled to be at Broccoli City, in Washington DC, on the same day, and T-Pain is on the Saturday lineup for Rolling Loud Miami. Interestingly enough, neither of them have made any public comments about whether or not they’re actually playing at Lovers & Friends, or if they’ve discovered the real-life version of Hermione Granger’s time-turner.
Broccoli City obviously noticed the tweets pouring in about the booking situation, and they tweeted saying that Megan Thee Stallion would be doing both shows. Duh, private jets are a thing! But interestingly enough, this tweet has now been deleted, which makes it seem like maybe the logistics weren’t so easy after all. It’s a six-hour flight from DC to LA, so even with the time difference, they would have to line up the schedules perfectly if there’s any chance of this working.
Rolling Loud Miami, where T-Pain is scheduled to perform on May 9th, didn’t make any official comment on the situation, but posted this tweet, which seems to be throwing a little bit of shade at Lovers & Friends.
Can’t wait to see a real Florida legend like T-Pain at Rolling Loud Miami 🤯
— Rolling Loud (@RollingLoud) February 18, 2020
So, as Oprah would say, what is the truth? Basically, the festival is definitely real, and the organizer is the same company who does Coachella. But, as any festival will tell you, lineups are always subject to change, and I would be pretty shocked if everyone who’s on this lineup poster actually shows up. Like, Lauryn Hill is showing up two hours late, if at all. So if you live in LA, it’s probably worth buying a ticket just to see wtf actually ends up happening, but don’t get your hopes up that Megan Thee Stallion will actually make it in time. But hey, at least you won’t be trapped on some remote island in the Bahamas!
Images: Vadim Ponomarenko/Shutterstock; goldenvoice, lilkimthequeenbee, snoopdogg / Instagram; broccolicity, rollingloud / Twitter
Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based DJ Cray is a one-woman show, or so she told me when I interviewed her at a music festival in Atlanta—just us, no publicist, no manager. That’s very rare in the music world from what I’ve encountered, but it fits right in with Cray’s laid-back, completely unpretentious vibe. “I’m kind of get in, get out,” she explains. “I’m pretty independent. I’m a one-woman show!”
Speaking of, being a woman in show business was a huge topic of conversation. I didn’t mince any words; I just jumped straight into it and asked how she dealt with working in a historically sexist industry. “I think there’s a ton of judgment against women,” she admits. When they see a woman in music, people question, “if she’s doing what she is doing for real, if she’s too pretty,” and on and on. (Not that it matters, but Cray is gorgeous and looks like an e-girl-meets-Instagram model.) I express incredulity that people would actually count attractiveness against a woman (because who among us has not been called an ugly bitch who isn’t talented by our haters). Then again, how could I ever underestimate the hypocrisy of men? Cray assures me that, yes, it happens. “I get a lot of like, you’re too pretty to make music,” she confesses. But she questions, “Like, if I was ugly, would it be chill?”
She continues, “You would never tell a man, ‘oh you’re too hot to be doing what you’re doing’… but I’m being told those comments.” And while it seems like a no-brainer to say, it’s apparently not: she asserts, “I’d rather you look at my talent and not my face.” But think about it: has anybody ever said Justin Bieber was too attractive to sing? Or, if you think that’s a more objective skill than being able to produce music and DJ: have you ever taken a look at Calvin Harris, or Martin Garrix, and thought they were unqualified? I’ll wait. “If someone’s making art, and giving art to you, it’s a pretty vulnerable thing,” she asserts. “So just respect their art. If you don’t like it, don’t listen—you don’t need to make mean comments or judgmental things like that.”
But the music industry isn’t the only space where Cray is on the receiving end of sexist comments and doubt. She’s also a big gamer with over 40,000 followers and 500,000 streams on Twitch. Anyone who paid attention to #gamergate in 2014 knows the gaming world as a whole is not exactly welcoming to women (understatement of the decade). I pose this question to Cray, and she seems like she’s thought about this a lot. “So I’m basically in the middle of two industries that have issues with equality of women,” she says without missing a beat. While she admits, “music and gaming are very different,” she finds, “the issues they have are the same.” She again cites the skepticism she has encountered that women are gaming “for the right reasons” (right, because women only pursue hobbies for the approval of men) and, again, the doubts about her sincerity and skill because of her looks. And yet I hate to think of the types of vitriol Cray might get if she weren’t conventionally beautiful. It’s a lose-lose.
It wasn’t always this way—getting metaphorically beaten down for being too pretty. “In high school I was so insecure, and thought I was so ugly all the time,” she admits. You’d never know it by looking at her Instagram, where practically every photo she posts is envy-inducing. It looks effortless, but the reality? Far from it. After being frustrated and insecure in high school, she says, “I took a selfie, every frickin’ day for literally ever.” At some point, she recalls, you just start figuring out your angles. “So now,” when she poses, she says, “it’s like clockwork.”
But taking good pictures on Instagram can blur the line of reality, and even though Cray plays into this to an extent, she also acknowledges the danger. “What happens when you see someone in real life?” she asks rhetorically. “The more we edit and the more we try to post those unrealistic expectations, the sh*ttier we feel inside.” She admits, “I see some photos and I’m like, ‘oh my god why can’t I have that body?’ And I go to the gym and I’m like, can I have this body? And like, ‘that’s not f*cking real’. So it’s unrealistic and makes you feel like sh*t.”
And she insists that the camera-ready version you see of her on Instagram is not her reality. “I have so many days like that where I’m like, I can’t even fake it,” she confesses. On those days, it can be hard to show your face to over 190,000 followers, but she does it even if it’s uncomfortable. “I make sure to show people me with no makeup, no editing,” she assures me. “I want to make sure that young women who follow me don’t see it as an unrealistic beauty expectation. I want people to realize we all have insecurities. I want people to understand that even the most beautiful people have insecurities, it’s just something we live with as people.”
So even though she’s still being discredited because of her looks, and even though the music industry is far from equal, Cray admits there are “strides being taken.” She recalls, “I started in this industry 5 years ago when I couldn’t even tell you how many women were on the lineup—maybe two or three—so now the fact that we have more is great, but still have a long way to go.” On the one hand, she acknowledges that “women treated equally is hard in a male-dominated industry, and it’s hard to change something that’s always been the same, it’s kind of hard to go against the grain.” But she does give props to a number of women in the industry who are uplifting each other, like Anna Lunoe, Whipped Cream, and Kitten. “All these women are just fucking killing it, and we all respect each other, and I wish that respect was everywhere,” she says wistfully.
Obviously, the problems facing women in the music industry were not created by women, though, and it’s not solely on their shoulders to fix it. It’s on everybody. When I ask what we can all do to make the music industry better for female artists, she rattles off a laundry list of solutions: “Just honestly more men becoming allies, more fans understanding equality on how to treat women in the industry, more agents and managers picking up female clients, more people just honestly researching too.” To that last point, she elaborates, “there are so many women out there making such amazing music, and if you just take the time to check it out, it’s out there.”
Being modest, she doesn’t explicitly include herself in that list, but she should not be counted out. This October, she dropped her newest EP, seasons change and so do i, via Ultra Records. “The debut single, “idontwannatalkaboutlove,” has a total dark-pop vibe and exudes themes of female empowerment and authenticity. “This EP is my heart on my sleeve,” she admits. “It’s honest and real and I just want to connect with people.” And even though she admits that the EP is very vulnerable and there’s apprehension in that, she says ultimately, “I’m excited to show that side of me to the world, and finally put it live for everyone to see.” Because with her music, as with her Instagram, interviews, etc., she wants to get across to people that, “we all go through changes and heartbreaks. You aren’t alone.”
Images: Ashley Osborn
Anyone who’s ever put together even a halfway decent birthday party knows that event planning is a pain in the ass. There are always unexpected factors, and it’s difficult to make everyone happy. Multiply that scale to a large music festival, and things are bound to go wrong along the way. Even if a festival isn’t organized by sociopaths like Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, sh*t happens. Case in point: this year’s Governors Ball festival in New York City, which took place this past weekend.
Things ran smoothly for the first two days of the festival, but then on Sunday, everything went wrong. There was rain in the forecast for much of the afternoon and evening, calling the outdoor festival into question. On Sunday morning, the festival organizers announced that gates for the festival would be delayed until 6:30pm, a casual seven hours after the festival was supposed to open. The only problem? The weather on Sunday afternoon in NYC was literally beautiful. Like, at 2pm I willingly walked 30 blocks instead of taking the Subway because it was so nice outside.
People were understandably a little pissed that their festival day was being shortened because of “thunderstorms” while it was bright and sunny. I’m not sure what weather forecast the Governors Ball team was looking at, but apparently they were in a room without windows to just look outside. Either way, 6:30pm was the start time, and the performance schedule was moved around to still fit in as much as possible. Sets were shortened, things were pushed later, and everyone still made their way to Randall’s Island Park to enjoy what was left of Day 3.
But that was another problem. When the festival starts at 11:30 in the morning, people trickle in throughout the day. When the festival starts at 6:30pm, everyone shows up at 6:30pm. One of my roommates was at the festival yesterday, and she detailed her experience getting in: “We waited 40 minutes to get our will call tickets and another 45 to get into the actual festival. If they had just started the festival during the day, there would have been much better crowd control.” With shortened sets starting as early as 6:45, many fans were stuck in lines while their favorite artists were performing just a few hundred yards away. It was already a clusterf*ck, but the Gov Ball nightmare was just getting started.
At 9:35pm, Governors Ball posted the following message on their social media accounts, as well as on the screens at the festival. It still wasn’t actually raining yet, so people were both confused and annoyed. Most people at the festival had only gotten to see one set by the time the evacuation started, and the headliners for the day (The Strokes and SZA) never even got to go on.
It’s important to understand that Gov Ball doesn’t just take place in a park somewhere in NYC. It’s on Randall’s Island, a tiny little island in the middle of the river between Manhattan, Queens, and The Bronx. There’s no Subway stop on the island, so the only way to get back into the city is to take a bus or walk across the bridge. Predictably, things got bad quickly once the torrential downpour started. The initial round of shuttle buses was gone after a few minutes, so people took things into their own hands.
One person at the festival described her experience: “We tried to wait it out under a (leaking) tent but the crowd didn’t die down and neither did the rain, so we left and the shuttles were all gone so we joined the literal hoards crossing the bridge by foot.”
Yes, you read that right. Thousands of people were crossing the bridge back to Manhattan in the middle of a lightning storm BY FOOT. This truly looks like the scene after a major natural disaster.
Another festival-goer had a similarly awful experience:
“Everyone left at the same time so I knew it was going to be chaos. We were body to body walking through mud to get to the bridge. There was so much water that people’s shoes were coming off. When we got to the bridge, it was raining so hard that it felt like a kids water park where the bucket just dumps water on you. People were pushing and stopping to avoid the rain, so we kept pushing through to get over the bridge.”
Here’s a video of what it was like on the bridge:
Gov ball evacuation was apocalyptic pic.twitter.com/wHl8Hqn1Cg
— negative nancy drew (@k8sanz) June 3, 2019
One of the Gov Ball attendees also added that “there was no one directing anything. We just had to figure out how to get out.” To me, that’s the craziest part. Even if things are messy and overcrowded, how do they not have an actual plan for how to deal with a situation like this? You can’t just flash a giant sign telling people to proceed to the exit when the exit is just a bridge with no shuttle buses in sight.
Pretty quickly, the Governors Ball team announced that they would be issuing refunds for Sunday, which is obviously the right decision. It was clear why the festival got shut down when it did, but it seems like they majorly screwed up by delaying the start time so much. Even if the headliners wouldn’t have gone on, at least people could’ve seen like, two acts before the bad weather started.
Though this year’s Governors Ball will probably be remembered for the absolute sh*tshow that was Sunday evening, the other two days were actual pretty great. The highlight? Probably when Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975, called out Kendall Jenner and a bunch of influencers for walking in front of the stage.
here y’all go pic.twitter.com/xCnSnMW0ZM
— isa hates u (@imjustisa) June 3, 2019
For every thousand people that were stuck on that bridge, at least we got one excellent takedown of a Kardashian. It’s the little things. But this isn’t even the first time that Governors Ball has been messed up because of bad weather. Back in 2016, organizers canceled the third day of the festival, which was set to feature Kanye West as the headliner, and people were outraged. Ouch. If you’ve been personally victimized by the Governors Ball monsoon of 2019, feel free to drop your experience in the comments below, and make sure to cop that refund for your troubles. This is why I don’t go to music festivals!
UPDATE: Well, the Governors Ball organizers clearly got a lot of angry DMs, because on Monday night they put out a message from the founders on their website. In the message, they give a more detailed explanation of what went into their decisions on Sunday. Most importantly, they explained why the starting time for the festival was pushed back so far. At 8am, the team was told “that there was a high likelihood of thunderstorms and lightning throughout the afternoon, with 4pm-6pm being the most problematic and the most threatening.” At 11am, they got an updated forecast with the same information, and pushed back the gates to 6:30.
In the statement, they stick by their decision to push back the opening. “At around 5pm, the expected weather system did in fact come through the NYC area and hit Manhattan and Brooklyn with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. This weather was close enough to the festival site that we would have had to cancel and evacuate had it been a normally operating festival day.” Okay, so I live in Manhattan and I didn’t see any thunder, lightning, or heavy rain at 5pm, but maybe the storm didn’t hit my neighborhood. Who knows.
The founders acknowledge that the evacuation situation wasn’t ideal: “While we are happy that no injuries were reported during the evacuation, we aren’t going to sugar coat things here. When you are evacuating tens of thousands of people from any site, it is a challenging endeavor.” This is obviously true, but they didn’t really have anything to say for why the actual evacuation was such a dangerous free-for-all.
After reiterating that everyone will be getting refunds for Sunday, the message concludes with the announcement that the Governors Ball team will age doing a Reddit AMA this afternoon at 1pm. I have a feeling it’s going to involve a lot of angry Strokes fans, and probably some people trying to explain how weather works. If you want to follow along on Reddit, here’s the link, and please tell me if anything important happens.
Images: @govballnyc (2) / Instagram; @k8sanz, imjustisa / Twitter
Despite how many influencers go to Coachella every year, the original Woodstock is still the most iconic music festival of all time. In August 1969, over 400,000 people made their way to upstate New York for a music festival that would be a defining moment in the counterculture generation. Over the years, there have been various revivals of the Woodstock festival, and this year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, is going to be the biggest of them all: Woodstock 50. Well, it’s supposed to be the biggest, but right now it’s looking like a total sh*tshow. Let’s examine what’s going on with what may end up being the Fyre Festival of upstate New York.
Earlier this year, Michael Lang, one of the co-founders of the original Woodstock festival, announced that he would be organizing a 50th anniversary edition. The site for the festival, Watkins Glen International Racetrack, already has an iffy past with music festivals. Last summer, there was supposed to be a Phish festival there, but it got shut down due to water quality and safety issues due to flooding. Lang announced that for Woodstock 50, a separate water supply would be brought in to avoid these problems. Already, this sounds like a mess.
The lineup for Woodstock 50 was announced in March, and it’s pretty impressive. Headliners include Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Halsey, The Killers, Santana, and Chance the Rapper. It’s a little all over the place, but I’m still impressed. Reportedly, though, iconic acts like Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, and Billy Joel all turned the festival down. Looking back now, maybe they knew something we didn’t at the time?
Tickets for Woodstock 50 were supposed to go on sale on April 22, which already seemed a little late for a festival of this size, but that date came and went with no updated information. Then, on April 29, the main investors in the festival, a company called Dentsu Aegis Network, announced that they were pulling their financial support, and that the festival would therefore be canceled. The issue? Besides being surprised to learn that “Dentsu Aegis” is a real company, and not a secret society from a sci-fi movie, the Woodstock 50 organizers pulled some shady sh*t. The festival reduced the capacity to 75,000 in order to make room for people camping. The capacity was initially promised as 150,000, so Dentsu Aegis was understandably upset that they were only going to get half the ticket sales.
Despite a main production partner, Superfly, also pulling out a couple days later, Lang said that the festival would still go on as planned, and that they were seeking out new financial backers. That sounds fine, but it was revealed that all of the artists on the lineup had made payment deals through Dentsu Aegis, not the festival itself, so they were no longer obligated to show up at the festival. Yikes.
Earlier this month, reports circulated that Michael Lang had found a new financial backer for Woodstock 50, but he still needed a mass gathering permit for the festival to go on. Additionally, he filed an injunction against Dentsu Aegis, saying that they had no right to declare the festival canceled, and also demanding that they return $17 million that they removed from the Woodstock 50 bank account. He also alleged that Dentsu had prevented the tickets from going on sale on April 22.
This week, a judge ruled that Dentsu Aegis did not have the power to cancel the festival, clearing the way for it to proceed in August. However, the judge also said that Dentsu did not have to return the $17 million, so Woodstock is still broke. Now, Michael Lang is adamant that Woodstock 50 is going to happen in August as planned, but it’s still unclear who’s paying for it, or when tickets will go on sale.
As if this story wasn’t already messy enough, there’s a whole other situation going on with Woodstock 50. Live Nation, one of the biggest concert promoters, is holding a separate Woodstock 50 anniversary concert, also taking place in August at the site of the original festival. Some of the same artists are even scheduled to perform at both Woodstock 50 events. Michael Lang filed a cease and desist order against the Live Nation event, but it’s still moving forward, and tickets have been available for weeks. Honestly, if I had to choose one, the Live Nation concert is definitely a safer bet.
At this point, it’s still wildly unclear if Woodstock 50 is going to happen, but if it does, I can’t wait to see how gigantic of a mess the whole thing is. If you’re planning to go, you should definitely bring your own water and toilet paper, because things are probably going to get dicey. I would give you the link to buy tickets to Woodstock 50, but lol tickets to this thing are never going on sale. Brb, gotta go send some emails to try and get press passes. Can’t wait for the competing Hulu and Netflix documentaries about this in 2021.
Images: woodstock / Instagram
Having withdrawal from Coachella? Want to go to a festival you can actually afford? Same on both accounts. Live music is an expensive habit, and a lot of festivals don’t come cheap. The solution? Instead of going to a big-name festival where tickets will cost you a month’s rent in a Southern U.S. city, set your sights on a lesser-known one. These underground festivals will often pull some big names, and plenty of newcomers just waiting to be discovered. That’s the best part of a festival anyway, right? Discovering new artists because you just happen to walk by their set? That’s how I discovered Flosstradamus, one fateful Bonnaroo night. Anyway, this isn’t about me; it’s about you. Sort of. Check out these underground festivals this summer. For the purposes of this article, I am mostly classifying an underground festival as a newer one, since you probably haven’t heard of something if it’s new. Not so much that they are highlighting underground music, because I don’t know anything about underground music, unless we’re talking about alt. R&B artists I found on Spotify and Soundcloud. Let’s begin!
Shaky Beats Music Festival
Set in Central Park, Atlanta, Georgia (yes, that is a real park, and no, they do not mean Centennial Park), this two-day dance music festival boasts headliners Rüfüs Du Sol and Martin Garrix. Other performers include Big Gigantic and San Holo, plus tons of other names you’ll want to see. While not super duper underground, Shaky Beats is still relatively unknown since it’s only in its third year. That means you can actually see the performers you want. Having been, this is a fun, small, manageable festival where you can’t really lose your friends since the grounds are not that big and you will have service (hallelujah!). Plus, since it’s not on an island, you’re not going to get stranded with no shuttle service (unlike a certain other EDM fest). And if you want to keep partying once the festival is over, there are a few late-night show options. With tickets at $139 for two days, it’s very affordable, considering that is less money per day than I paid for one Khalid show at MSG.
Elements Music & Arts Festival
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Today is Earth Day. Earth is one of our five Elements. It’s more than a stage, it’s a testament to our deep love for this planet. At #ElementsFestival, we try our very best to support Mother Earth and everything she provides for us. This year, we are bringing back artists who create in symbiosis with nature, and will be (safely and consciously) building one of our stages around a tree. From picking up trash, to providing plastic-free options onsite, we think #EarthDay is every day. What can you do today to help the planet? ? @olga.klimova.art
If you’ve got eclectic taste in electronic music, you’ll want to check out Elements Music & Arts Festival. Now in its third year, this camping festival in Lakewood, PA has headliners including Disclosure, Big Gigantic, and Sofi Tukker, but the rest of the names are not the types of artists you’re hearing on the radio. Or at least, I’m not. And I thought I was hip! There will be art installations and programming from sex-positive NY-based venue House of Yes. It takes place over Memorial Day weekend, meaning you don’t even have to take a day off work to enjoy this festival. Tickets start at $249 for a three-day pass, which is still way less than renting a house in the Hamptons.
Capitol Hill Block Party
So apparently Capitol Hill Block Party has been around since 1997, but this is the first I’m hearing about it. Then again, I don’t live in Seattle, so what do you expect? Did I totally miss the mark with this pick? Tell me in the comments! Anyway. Taking place from Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21, Capitol Hill Block Party has artists from a variety of genres. Headliners are RL Grime, Lizzo, and Phantograms. Other performers include Snakehips, Aminé, Denzel Curry, and others. Sure, the lineup is lighter on indie rock bands and singer-songwriters than Sasquatch!, but since it’s not returning in 2019, what else do you have to do? Tickets start at $160 for a 3-day ticket, which in the festival world, is basically free.
Under The Big Sky Music & Arts Festival
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Let’s ride ? . Kick up those heels this Summer with @nathanielrateliff & The Night Sweats, @bandofhorses, @dwightyoakam, @CodyJinks, @Jennydianelewis, @ElleKing, @JamestownRevival + a hell of a lot more! . Walk the ranch to explore local beers, eats and arts set under the big sky with the sounds of some of the finest Americana, Country, Indie Rock & beyond. . Tickets on sale Tuesday, February 19th at 12 PM MT (Ya’ll don’t forget to set an alarm ⏰) . All Ages // July 13+14 // Local Craft Beer // Arts // Rodeo // Trail Rides // Petting Zoo // #underthebigskyfest
Judging by the bare bones website, lack of pre-2019 Facebook profile picture, and two single Instagram posts to date, I’m guessing this is the inaugural Under The Sky Music & Arts Festival. The Americana, folk, and alt-country fest is taking place at Big Mtn Ranch in Whitefish Montana, which is precisely the setting I would picture for this genre of music festival. Even though this festival is flying under the radar, they’ve booked big name acts like Jenny Lewis, ZZ Ward, Band of Horses, and Nathan Rateliff & The Night Sweats. (Incidentally, The Night Sweats is also what I call my backing band.) Two-day tickets start at $119.
The Greatest Day Ever! Music Festival And Carnival
I attended Greatest Day Ever a few years ago, back when it was on Governors Island in one small tent with MetroBoomin and DJ 4B. It’s come a long way in the six short years since its inception and now boasts performers like Pusha-T, Carnage, and Zeds Dead. While they’ve tried out a few locations, this year the festival and carnival is happening at Ford Amphitheater on Coney Island. There will be carnival rides, meaning you can get that ferris wheel pic, and actually go on the ferris wheel, unlike some other festivals. This one-day-only event (hence the name) will be on July 13, with tickets starting at $65. Again, given I paid way more than that to see one artist, that’s not a bad price.
The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash
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In 2018, Chicago’s Lyrical Lemonade and Spkrbx Presents joined forces to put on a one-day festival in Douglas Park. Back for its second year, the festival has expanded to two days, bringing performers such as Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Cam’ron. And that’s just for day one. Day two artists include Juice Wrld, Tyga, and a whole lot more. Damn, that’s a lot of people. And it’s outside, unlike other festivals you might go to that typically pull this kind of lineup but take place inside an arena (*cough* every radio stations’ “summer festival” that’s not even really a festival because it takes place inside, which is way less fun). Tickets start at $150 for a two-day pass.
Sandjam Music Festival
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The next set of names to take this stage, will soon be posted on this page. They’ll make it here before Santa and if we’re lucky, before it’s time to eat turkey. So, time watching this page will be well spent. Cause in the near future, we’ll start dropping hints. ? @sandjamfest is powered by @pepsi. #rock #alternative #electro #musicfestival #festlife #goodtimes #indiepop #pop #music #beach #saltlife #florida #pepsi #visitpanamacitybeach #letsgo
After its inaugural year in 2018, the self-proclaimed “adult-alternative rock music festival” returns to Panama City Beach, Florida. With a lineup including Kings of Leon, Young the Giant, The Revivalists, and more, it’s sure to be a vastly different experience than the time you went to PCB on college spring break. (Or perhaps that was just me.) The festival takes place literally on the beach, and you can’t beat that setting. Tickets start at $149 for a 3-day pass.
Just Like Heaven Fest
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From what I can tell (i.e. lack of info to the contrary and sparse social media presence), 2019 will be the festival’s first year, so if you’ve heard of it I am extremely impressed. Happening in Queen Mary Park in Long Beach, CA, this two-day festival will have performances by MGMT, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phoenix, Passion Pit, and many more. The festival is sold out, according to the site, but you can join the waitlist for tickets (or check out the event’s Facebook page, where you might have some luck and get one secondhand from someone trying to offload their pass).
Images: justlikeheavenfest, sandjamfest, thesummersmash, underthebigskyfestival, elementsfestival_ / Instagram; Joshua Lewis; Jerry Chen; Courtesy of aLIVE Coverage (2)
I’ll start by saying that, yes, I did go to Coachella this year (and if you want to see my content, check out my Instagram). Cool, now that I’m done being the most terrible person alive, let’s talk about Coachella. A few years ago when I first started working for Betches, I didn’t even really know what Coachella was. I remember editing an article on “5 Celebs Who Embody Coachella” and having next to no clue what the article was even talking about, but I published it anyway because I was just doing my job.
In recent years, though, Coachella has become impossible to ignore. Now, it’s less of a music festival and more of a cultural event. The focus in the media is on the music and production as much as it is on figuring out which celebrities attended and what they were wearing. And, even furthermore, it’s about the parties surrounding Coachella. There are invite-only parties like Revolve festival, not to mention Neon Carnival and Framework Presents after-parties. When did Coachella become like this, anyway?
It’s a complicated question, so I decided to research the lineup through the years. Although Coachella started as a rock festival, they were pulling acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beastie Boys even in 2003. In 2004, their attendance doubled and hit 120,000 guests, with The Cure, Radiohead, and then-relatively-unknown The Killers performing.
2007 seems to be when things start to take off—the festival expands from one day to three, and pulls $16.3 million in box office revenue, up from $9 million the year before. The following year, Prince gets added to the lineup; in 2009, Coachella books Paul McCartney. Around this period is where things start to turn towards the mainstream. In 2010, Jay-Z becomes the first hip-hop artist to headline the festival, and the next year Kanye West headlines. But perhaps the most precise turning point towards the mainstream occurs in 2012, when Coachella expands to two weekends, and most notably, Dr. Dre headlines and brings out the Tupac hologram. This is where press for Coachella explodes; the Desert Sun reports that this performance overshadowed even Radiohead’s headlining set, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame notes it as one of the 20 greatest festival moments ever.
But I didn’t want to take one article’s word for it, so I consulted Reddit. One user wrote, “I feel like since 2011 when Kanye and Kings of Leon headlined Coachella really broke into pop culture,” adding, “it was at that point where I began to hear Coachella mentioned a helluva lot more on radio, tv, in online media and by regular 9-5 types in everyday life.” Another echoed, “I think it was after 2011 being the last time it would only be one weekend… I strongly believe it went ‘mainstream’ (or got more popular) after that year because me and six friends bought our wristbands and car camping a MONTH before the event… there’s no way that could ever happen again due to everything selling out in a matter of minutes.”
This timeline tracks with the advent of Instagram, which launched in 2010 and featured its very first ad in 2013. I’m not a sociologist, but I’d venture that Coachella’s increased presence in mainstream popular culture, coupled with the simultaneous rise of Instagram, created a perfect storm of photo opps, so to speak. Compounded with the increased ability to actually make a living off of Instagram as an individual and not an established retail brand with every passing year, these factors turned the festival into the millennial influencer wasteland it’s seen as today.
Is this accurate? ??? pic.twitter.com/ELfVdED7hA
— WORLDSTARHIPHOP (@WORLDSTAR) April 16, 2019
In short, it wasn’t always like this, and this perception as an Instagram destination is relatively new, compared to the festival’s 20 year history. But even still, Coachella has earned a reputation as being a social media playground—but is it deserved?
On the surface, unequivocally yes. You’re talking about a massively popular event that’s attended by celebrities and “regular” (but still well-off) folks alike, that is not accessible to everybody. The fact is, going to Coachella is expensive. Most multi-day festivals are going to run you a couple of hundred dollars for the ticket price alone, not counting travel and accommodations. I probably spent a grand just getting and staying there—I don’t know for sure, I don’t want to think about it. So you have a bunch of people who have at least some money, plus people with tons of money, risking heat stroke together to stand in a giant crowd and maybe see the top of the head of an artist whose songs they vaguely know, projected from a giant screen 100 yards away. It’s inherently pretty douchey; combined with the fact that the festival has now achieved unparalleled name recognition, if you say you’re going, you sound like a huge asshole. And I will say that, compared to other festivals I’ve been to, Coachella is the only one that’s as much about what you’re wearing as who you’re going to see. On top of that, you’ve got these larger-than-life 3-D art installations, an iconic ferris wheel, great natural lighting until 8pm—so of course people are going to take pictures, and they’re all going to be the same ones. So, yeah, it does seem like a Coachella problem.
can u imagine having enough money to go to coachella and u spend it on going to coachella
— niiice. (@niiiceband) April 12, 2019
But is it really?? I’m going to say no. Not because Coachella is not one giant Instagram activation, but because everything these days is. We are all out here taking the same fake candids in any environment that is remotely photogenic. Go to a random street corner of Manhattan and you’ll likely see girls posing for in front of a parked taxi cab. Hell, at least Coachella is still a music festival, unlike Museum Of , and all those other pop-ups that are unabashedly made explicitly for social media. I have been to so many of these events, and most of the time it’s like being in the North Korean supermarket from The Interview—everything looks shiny from the photos, but all the depth is manufactured. That monochrome ball pit that looks amazing on your friend’s feed? It’s likely a standalone pit in a bare room (that’s 100 degrees because it’s not properly ventilated; the room was probably constructed in a pinch for the sole purpose of this pop-up). That rainbow wall? A few feet of painted plywood propped up and stuck in the corner of a sparsely decorated backyard. Some of the Coachella parties might fall into this latter camp, but the festival? It’s a festival. A real, 3-D, walk-around-it-and-touch-things, listen-to-music, festival. People are going to take pictures there, just like they do in any other restaurant, bar, birthday party, or park, so like, who really cares? This is not a phenomenon unique to this particular festival.
And, look. I’m not saying Coachella is this perfect utopia. Not at all. There’s plenty to dislike about it, like the fact that it’s overcrowded, expensive, their security system felt like more of a “pray something doesn’t go horribly wrong” attitude than an actual plan, or most importantly, it’s got shady links to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Be mad about that, but don’t be mad that it’s a place where millennials millennial.
Images: Don Indio; worldstarhiphop, niiiceband / Twitter
You probably know Alan Walker from his 2015 banger “Faded”, but the Norwegian-British DJ has been far from a one-hit wonder. This year, Walker became the number one YouTuber in Norway with 15 million subscribers. He also just turned 21, so like, he can have a drink now I guess. He’s way more famous than me even though I’m six years older than him… it’s fine, I’m fine. We sat down with Alan after his Electric Zoo 2018 performance to hear about turning 21, his musical inspirations and who “Alan Walker” really is.
Betches: You just celebrated a birthday right? 21?
I feel like in America 21st birthday is a huge deal but for you it’s probably not.
Well, for here, I think the biggest deal is that you can finally drink. And, in Norway, we can do that since we were 18, so. But, it’s cool knowing that I can play at the casino, I won’t get thrown out.
Some casinos are 18, some, not all…are you a big gambler?
No, no but when I went to play, they let me in when the show starts, but they kick you out when you’re done with the show.
So, we really enjoyed your set, we loved the Pirates of the Caribbean. So I read that you are a fan of Hans Zimmer, so what’s your favorite movie score of his?
How do you feel about John Williams, cause I’m more of a John William’s fan to be honest
Well I think that like, I’ve got a bunch of his music in my playlist as well. He also did Jurassic Park. He’s a classic.
I felt like your songs, the lyrics are kind of dark, but the melody is upbeat—so what’s that like when you’re creating these two things that are sort of opposite?
Well, I always like to produce melancholic songs and sometimes even though the lyrics can be dark it doesn’t really matter. If the lyrics are just dark, you don’t necessarily have to make something that sounds as dark as the lyrics. And if you can make something that sounds happier, then it changes the whole vibe of the song. For example, a dark sound could make it sound very dark. And it sounds very happy now when it comes to the drop, so that’s kind of like the highlight of the song, to make it more positive.
And how involved are you in the visuals?
For my songs, usually music videos, we really have one guy that’s been directing every music video that we’re doing like I don’t know, the last four or five music videos we put out. Then, it’s going to have like a red line that’s like, a life story that goes through all the music videos, which I feel like is kind of important so it’s not completely random. At the end of the day, it’ll be more like you’re watching a TV series but it’s music videos.
Ifeel like you as a person, you’re a little bit of an enigma. I actually really want to know what your day-to-day life is like.
By enigma do you mean like a machine?
Like, you’re a mystery. Like, ‘we know about his music but what is he like?’ Like on your social media you post about your songs, you don’t Tweet out your thoughts and your jokes and stuff.
You don’t necessarily have to front yourself. Like, I want to front Alan Walker the artist, not necessarily myself. I think I’m able to do that, so it’s different, it’s unique; it’s different from what everyone else is doing and that’s why I’m attracting so many people to come like find out and be like who really is that guy?
How do you think Alan Walker the person differs from the artist?
Alan Walker as a person does not like to be on stage. When I used to go to school, I hated being on stage. I was like the guy who got so shaken up, holding a piece of paper and super nervous. It’s very different when you’re there to come out and play, because you’re prepared to speak to and play music and I don’t have to speak to them too much. I just say like, “one two one two three drop” and then the crowd is happy.
So what do you do before you get on stage to calm yourself down?
Now it’s become a habit. I’ve been touring for the past three years now, so I’m like, never nervous anymore. So, it was only at the very beginning, the fear of being in front of a huge crowd and knowing that everyone is looking at you. It’s weird, but at the same time, you overcome it. It’s kind of like you start to let it be a job and you get used to it.
I do feel like even though you are super famous, you’re also sort of a regular guy. You’re really into gaming, I know nothing about gaming, all I know is Fortnite, do you play that?
Who do you surround yourself with when you’re out on tour?
My best friends, my tour manager, my crew.
Do you enjoy touring?
I do, I really do. The fact that I can travel around the world and experience so many different cultures, so many different people, I get to see weird but cool stuff.
So tell us about the mask.
My mask is there because, it’s not necessarily because I want to hide myself, it’s more to show a symbol of community and that anyone can be a Walker. It’s just a hoodie and a mask, so hoodie and the mask are actually inspired by Mr. Robot’s. Anonymous, like on the video game “Watch Dogs”.
I was going to say that the mask and the hoodie make you a little more recognizable because you’re always with it.
Like, I can go around without and people wouldn’t recognize me. It’s pretty fun. Like last year at Tomorrowland and this year at Tomorrowland as well, I just went around the crowd. But like last year there were so many of my friends there in the same weekend as I played and we just went into the crowd, had a good time. I was actually in the crowd, in the middle of everything at the main stage just with my friends having a good time. It was so fun.
Do you keep in touch with your friends when you’re on tour a lot?
Yeah, I keep up with them on Snapchat and talk to them on Facebook and sometimes Facetime them. It’s kind of like, just letting them know I’m still there.
And what’s that like for them to have a friend that’s like this huge name?
Oh, I don’t know. Like my closest friends don’t really care.
What is your favorite song you’ve produced?
I would say “Fade”, the one before “Faded”.
I also feel like a lot of your songs are really personal, is there one that’s particularly personal to you or is that also Fade?
Well, “Fade” is pretty personal because I was sixteen, pulling it together putting emotion into it.
I sense a lot of love motifs, is that accurate?
Not anyone in particular? Just your feelings?
I just like to make music that makes me feel happy and feels good and if I make a melody, that makes me feel like better about myself, so it feels naturally good.
Images: Rikkard Häggbom