Bound to happen, music festival hype is down more than ever

Bound to happen, music festival hype is down more than ever

MusicFebruary 13, 2018 By Brian Frederick

Was it so long ago, 2014, when Coachella's lineup could furiously inject itself into headlines and sustain a vigorous news cycle for days? Weeks? 

“Outkast is back!” they would say. “Arcade Fire is the shit!” your friends wept. “This Indian headdress makes my lats look huge!” Brendans everywhere calmly whispered to themselves in the mirror while wiping away protein shake mustaches. 

But times, they’re not only changin’, they’re unrecognizable. 

It’s no secret the festering political whirlwind we’re stuck in now has all but dominated media’s focus for months. That’s no excuse for the entertainment bubble having popped, though. It was happening long before the president came in with his grease-stained Twitter fingers to rule the country. The decline is easy for anyone to see.

A quick look on Google Trends shows just that. Search interest in “Bonnaroo” has slowly meandered down since 2013 and then slips heavily after June of 2016. Same goes for “EDC,” showing a soft decline into the nether. And “Riot Fest” — which had to close two of its Chicago offshoots — barely receives half the search engagement it once did. The only one still standing strong is “Coachella,” and even that’s on a downward toilet-spin.

They’re all still selling tickets, some more than others. But it isn’t enough to sustain. Not when even the most seasoned of festivals are barely holding on. Experts call it “festival fatigue.” We’ve all simply had too much to eat and would rather not anymore. Our belts, and wallets, can’t handle it.

It’s their own doing, though, the saturation. Everyone held festivals four years ago. Yet more and more, younger generations are opting out of the whole “touring the festie circuit” for traveling without tethers. 

There are probably a lot of factors for the decline, but one is likely more to blame than the others. It’s the glaring reality that creativity and adaptation are values left soaking wet in the back with the other alley trash.

Take the lineups, for instance. Do you see what Coachella is doing for 2018? Copy/paste that and shift it over to Tennessee, or Chicago, or down to Austin — throw a dart on a map. That’s the lineup you have, and that’s the lineup you will have thereafter.

Call it logistics, maybe, but with so many bands crying “foul!” over streaming royalties, it wouldn’t take much for a promoter to pull from a different, worthy pool of talent. 

To be fair, there are only so many “big names” on the summer circuit. But go look at your Spotify right now, is that who you’re really listening to the most?

Things will change, they always do. But for now, cherish your old and frayed wristbands as trinkets of good times past. And maybe you could go see them this year. But maybe, save floating a rent payment for another time. Buy better groceries. Hit up Spain. 

You’ve already seen that lineup, whichever duplicate it may be. They won’t be doing anything different this time around, either.