Arts & Reviews

Music festivals: A rising trend in youth culture

By: Nicky Barone

With the advent of digital downloads and online music sharing, the music industry and culture has undergone significant changes in the last decade. However, live performances and concerts are aspects that are still thriving in the modern music scene, if not more popular now than ever.

With the weather warming up, it is that time of year for the frantic searching and purchasing of tickets for upcoming music festivals. The first modern United States music festivals began in the 1960’s with the rise of artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Byrds, and Bob Dylan. The Woodstock Music Art and Fair, a three day music festival in New York state, is often considered the preeminent music festival in the history of American popular music. Since then, numerous festivals spanning a variety of genres have emerged on the scene, and some, such as the Newport Folk Festival, even date back nearly half a century. Two newer music festivals that have emerged in the 21st century are the Firefly Music Festival and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

The Firefly Music Festival, first held in summer 2012 in Dover, Delaware, is a newer festival which acts as a self-described “melting pot of sounds” incorporating old and new artists of varying genres, such as rock, alternative, rap, and others. This year’s headliners are the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Other artists performing include Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers, Kendrick Lamar, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and numerous other acts. Lodging generally consists of camping out or staying in an RV in one of the festival’s designated areas. The festival is also noted for its environmentalist goals, including carbon footprint offsetting with the introduction of online tickets. There are also numerous water refill stations around the festival, with workers encouraging attendees to use refillable water bottles to reduce plastic usage and littering. 71 acts are performed for the upcoming festival, which will span 3 days.

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is an annual four-day festival held in Manchester, Tennessee, which began in 2002. The festival is noted for the fact that many of its attendees sleep and camp outside, as well as being notorious for the festival’s facility showers costing a large amount of money. While the festival encompasses many musical genres, it began focusing on jam bands, rock, and folk rock groups. Several stages exist on the grounds of the festival, with several performances often going on at once. Paul McCartney, Mumford and Sons, and Tom Petty will be headlining the all-star lineup this year at the festival. This year’s festival is estimated to be attended by over 85,000 people.

While the music industry adapts and changes to the will of the morphing popular culture, live performance and the festival experience still stand strong. Many other festivals exist such as Bamboozle Newport Folk Festival which is dedicated to folk acts, Coachella, and many others often have groups that define themselves as alternative, punk, and other similar genres.  These festivals are ingrained in the musical culture of this country’s youth, while also remaining popular with adults as well. Music festivals have stood strong as the face of music changes and shows no sign of ever diminishing.

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