History of Music Festivals

Music festivals have a long and celebrated history in the United States. While Woodstock might be the most famous of all music festivals, it wasn’t the first, and it certainly wasn’t the last. Woodstock capped a decade renowned for change, both culturally and musically. Because of this, it has gone down in history as much more than a music festival, but as a symbolic event. However, we’ve learned a lot about music and festivals since then. Festivals today make up for a lot of the shortcomings of Woodstock and have become much more entertaining and comfortable.

Let’s get started at our look at how you can live the High Life at a music festival by looking at our past. When we have a better understanding of where festivals have been, we can better appreciate where they are now, and get a decent idea of what can be done to make them even better moving into the future.

What We Learned

Woodstock marked a major turning point in the history of music festivals. Prior to Woodstock, festivals didn’t have a huge emphasis on rock music. Yes, there were some, but jazz and blues were the primary focus here. The Newport Jazz Festival is typically credited as being the first recurring music festival in the U.S.

Woodstock brought the biggest names in popular music together in epic fashion. Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and more were all major players in the music business at the time or were about to become so. No music festival had ever attempted something so spectacular before.

And believe it or not, a lot of the legend of Woodstock came about accidentally. It was not originally supposed to be a big show like it was. There were tens of thousands of people who showed up to the show that were not originally scheduled. For safety reasons, the festival was forced to turn into a free show. The rest is history.

Today’s Success

The big, popular music festivals of today owe their success to the festivals of the past. The Newport Jazz Festival might not be a festival that would interest you today, but it’s one that paved the way for the Bonnaroos and Coachellas of today. Having many bands together, playing for many days at a time, has become synonymous with music. Any band that wants to consider themselves successful has played in a festival at some point, but it wasn’t until relatively recent times that events like these were even possible.

And because of those successes of the past, we have more festivals today than ever before. There’s something out there for everyone, which is good news for all of us. No matter what type of music you like, you will find a festival somewhere that you will absolutely love.

Today, the epic lineups that Woodstock first introduced are to be expected. A festival isn’t a festival unless there are several headlining acts all signed up to perform. This makes for an amazing concert experience for us fans. Why pay for a concert ticket to see a few bands play when you can spend a bit more and see dozens of the biggest names in music all play together?

Festivals have evolved, too. Single location festivals exist and are still quite popular, but there are also traveling festivals. So, if you don’t want to travel to California to see Coachella, you are more than likely to have a festival coming to a venue near you at some point in the near future. The lineups might not be the same, but you’re still going to have a great time seeing top bands play.