If recent festivals are any indication, music has a rough summer ahead
It’s finally here creeps: outdoor music is alive and well once again. Blooms are forcing themselves skyward, birds are singing their catchy little bird tunes, clothes shorter, dudes more tank-top-ier. It’s a mile high blessing.
In fact, the entire music industry is shedding its winter feathers. As the season turns, artists begin to pop out of their creative bunkers to deliver what it is they’ve been working on for the past several months. Will it be a 2019 hit? Or will it do a Katy Perry and nosedive into the clearance bin of nobody cares?
Remember though, it used to be we’d all have to wait until at least after Mother’s Day to hear new tracks — or to attend a show in Morrison at Red Rocks after a long blackout period, when the weather finally chills out for a sec. Promoters were always too spooked about the possibilities of things like snow and cold to kill a live performance’s vibe. Not anymore.
Because weed was popularized, and thus, commodified. Five college kids from Northern California used to meet at 4:20 p.m. after school in the ‘70s to get high. For some reason the numbers stuck and now outdoor concert season begins in Colorado around April 20th, unofficially of course. The rest of the nation follows through social media.
Strange how the world works sometimes.
What about Coachella? There’s a good argument for it being the “start” of music in America for the new year too, but, meh. So far things like that haven’t been great for artists. Lollapalooza Brasil had a hard time figuring out who Rüfüs Du Sol was, its name spelled all kinds of wrong on the green room placard. The band's visuals even played on the jumbo screens while another band performed. Someone fucked up. Twice. The real act Instagrammed the whole thing from their hotel window.
And SXSW is now a parade of douchey sponsors. Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary might not happen because people don’t care enough. Ultra Music Festival in Miami sold a time slot on the main stage to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Did you see it? Someone dressed up in a Colonel Sanders plastic head and “performed” a commercial right there in front of thousands where Zedd would stand later. Cringey.
Someone save the festivals, please.
Locally we have about zero music gatherings to look forward to anymore. Grandoozy was a bust. Velorama said its final goodbyes. Riot Fest is a distant memory. One of the few left holding on tight now tout themselves as “Denver’s Best Festival” and “Best Annual Festival” in Colorado. It isn’t clear if this is all tongue-in-cheek or not having any competition is worthy of acclaim.
Don’t mind the celebrities either. Who wants to bet Taylor Swift tweets something “woke” and it ends up on a hundred headlines before lunch? She has new music out, didn’t you hear?
Kanye, oh sweet Kanye.
Luckily not all artists roll predictably. Who saw Billie Eilish coming? The suits didn’t. With exactly zero radio help, zero mass media getting behind her and with zero albums sold, she grinded to the top in the hearts of millions. She and her brother did it organically. Because they’re good. It’s where music’s hopefully headed.
Now with her album out, seventeen-year-old Eilish is now the first artist born in the 2000s to have a #1. We’re witnessing a legend being made. That changes everything.
New albums. New hot tracks. New dedicated artists. Old dogs with their old tricks trying to keep up. It’s summertime in America, here’s to hoping this one sticks.