The Evolution Of Music Festivals: What Lies Beyond Glastonbury Or Coachella?
A full-fledged music festival is the ultimate live event experience for any music lover. But there is more to it than just flower crowns, body glitter, overpriced food items and selfies everywhere you go.
A music festival is also where big-name artistes make history, often with unforgettable performances that will most likely never be seen again anywhere else. Fans know this, and they anticipate the fact that they have something special to look forward to.
Just look at Beyonce when she headlined the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival. Her phenomenal performance was heralded as a true celebration of music, culture and social awareness.
And it was not just life-changing for the festival goers. Beyonce herself has said that she will never be able to push herself with another strict diet and rigorous rehearsals again – like how hard she prepared for Coachella.
A music festival can even set the stage for unforgettable emotional comebacks like when Kylie Minogue performed at Glastonbury this year. Fourteen years ago, Minogue was scheduled to headline the main Pyramid Stage but had to cancel her performance due to cancer.
This year, she finally rocked the Pyramid Stage with guests Coldplay’s Chris Martin (back in 2005, Martin’s band performed a cover of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head as a Glastonbury tribute to Minogue) and rock legend Nick Cave. We should all be so lucky.
Going Green Sounds Good
In 2020, however, it is going to take more than just the lure of legendary performances and comeback shows for music festivals to make a significant impact on both attendees and the overall live event industry.
Billboard reported how 62% out of 4,000 British festival-goers responded that the environmental impact of festivals is a major cause of concern. It’s not hard to see why as these events attract thousands of people to gather at a large open space.
At the end of the day, seeing tonnes of waste like plastic food packaging, beer cans and cigarette butts scattered on festival grounds is not a pretty sight. Hence, experts are calling on music festivals to make sustainability as a key part of the experience.
It essentially means cutting down on waste and relying on renewable energy like solar panels or wind turbines to power up those electrifying shows whenever possible. Music festivals also have to play a role of educating festival-goers about sustainability.
In other words, going green is as good as evergreen music. It never goes out of style. But is it possible to enjoy a music festival without having to worry about long-term environmental impact?
One fine example is The Oya Festival in Oslo, Norway. Media outlets like Dazed and The Independent UK has hailed Oya as the one leading the charge in sustainability at music festivals by running on renewable energy and even introducing greener food options to festival-goers.
Described as an “alternative and indie haven”, Oya Festival took place in August this year with a four-day event which featured performances by The Cure, Tame Impala and Hyukoh. The 2020 edition is scheduled for Aug 11 to 15.
Another music festival to consider is We Love Green Festival in Paris, France, which had workshops, talks and education programmes touching on eco-responsibility along with live music events.
Its eco-responsible charter included planting one tree per festival-goer. So for this year’s edition, organisers planted 80,000 trees. The festival also had free water refill spots to reduce plastic bottle waste by encouraging people to bring their own.
Major performers included the likes of Future, FKA Twigs and Rex Orange County. Next year’s We Love Green Festival, which is highly anticipated, will take place on June 6 and 7. Make sure you mark your calendar.
FOMO No More
Technology in some ways, could also help with sustainability and even bring the live music experience to more people. For carbon emission-conscious music fans who want to cut down on air travel, they can reduce the FOMO (fear of missing out) by tuning in to live streams.
Yes, that means no more relying on those blurry concert videos all over social media. YouTube announced that Coachella’s first weekend livestream back in April attracted over 82 million live views, a whopping 90% increase compared to 2018.
YouTube also announced that fans can catch Lollapalooza live on its platform. For those who can afford tickets though, fret not as technology is being touted as a groundbreaking way to enhance the live music experience.
Take for instance, the Festival Forte which takes place annually at Montemor-O-Velho, a castle in Portugal. You heard it right – a castle. This event offers electronic music alongside a dose of spectacular visual installation using video mapping technology, interactive structures and more.
Just imagine a festival where the surroundings changes according to the music and audience participation. This year’s was a big hit with acts the likes of Dave Clark, Paula Temple and Courtesy. Expect the same beautiful mesh of music and technology in 2020.
Creating An Immersive World
Beyond the idea of practising sustainability and utilising technology, the question remains – how can music festivals of the future broaden the offered experience that has been such a draw in the past?
There has to be more to a music festival than just the same Coachella-like setup. People want to tell new stories, experience something different that will set them apart from the other festival-goers all over social media.
This is where an event like Boomtown at Matterley bowl in Hampshire, United Kingdom comes in. The five-day event features multi-genre live music performances with immersive theatre and art performances.
Boomtown is set in a fictitious town filled with hundreds of citizens taking on different characters. There are a number of areas to explore, from a deserted industrial-like area called District 404 to dancehall stage Lion’s Den and Metropolis, an AI-powered stage for house music.
This year’s edition or Chapter 11 in August saw over 60,000 attendees with performances by Lauryn Hill, Killing Joke and Groove Armada. You definitely won’t want to miss out on next year’s Chapter 12.
Speaking of new experiences, what about a music festival by Taylor Swift? Yes, Swift has announced that she will be throwing a Lover Fest featuring other performers in the United States (Los Angeles on July 25 to 26 and Massachusetts on July 31 to Aug 1) next year.
On Instagram, Swift said she wanted to perform music from her latest album Lover in a way that feels “authentic”. She also described Lover as an album that reminds her of “open fields, sunset and summer”. Only time will tell how Swift can put her own spin on music festivals.
As for other music lovers – whether they are someone who cares about the environment to alternative music fans or virtual art aficionados, the future of music festivals is brighter than ever.
For more articles on music festivals, read:
- Why Coachella is Still so Popular
- The Best Music Festivals in Europe
- The History of Glastonbury Festival
- Music Festivals Around the World in 2022
Cover Image: Samir Hussein via Getty Images
Writer l JEM
I like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain. Not into yoga. Wait, how does that song go again?