The trickle of information about Woodstock 50 has been slow enough to make doubters wonder whether they’d ever see a lineup. Doubt no more: According to sources close to the situation, artists with firm offers have been wired payments and a lineup announcement is imminent. Even before that bill goes public, though, Variety has learned of more than 20 acts that are due to take part in the August 16-18 event, with the lineup full of rock and hip-hop firepower and fewer nods to nostalgia than you might expect.
Jay-Z, Dead & Co., Black Keys and Chance the Rapper are among the headliners — with two out of three nights speaking to hip-hop’s dominance 50 years after the 1969 event. Also slated to take part in the festival (all subject to change before anything is made official): The Raconteurs, Imagine Dragons, Run the Jewels, Gary Clark Jr., Cage the Elephant, the Killers, Greta Van Fleet, Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Portugal the Man, Dawes, the Lumineers, Bishop Briggs, Pussy Riot, Courtney Barnett and Dorothy. Halsey, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae and Brandi Carlile are also said to be finalizing their commitments.
Insiders reveal that acts will perform on three stages, dubbed the Peace Stage, Love Stage and Music Stage, the three keywords used in key art for the original fest.
If the bill seems a little heavy on 21st century acts for a festival commemorating a 50th anniversary, there should be at least a couple of other heritage acts besides Dead & Co. on hand. Robert Plant, whose band Led Zeppelin did not play the original Woodstock, is believed to be headed for this one. Additionally, Santana, which has already been announced for a smaller festival commemorating the Woodstock anniversary, may try to pull double duty perform at this one, too.
Michael Lang, co-creator of the original Woodstock and a driving force behind this 50th anniversary fest, declined to confirm or deny any names. “We are thrilled with all the excitement about Woodstock 50, but we have an obligation to our fans, artists and partners, to do things the right way,” he said in a statement given to Variety Thursday. “We are in the final stages of laying the groundwork and can’t wait to stage this once-in-a-lifetime event. We’ll be officially announcing the lineup and ticket on-sale soon, stay tuned!”
For anyone not keeping score at home, the fest that actually bears the brand name, organized by Lang, will take place at Watkins Glen. Meanwhile, there’ll be a more nostalgically inclined and modest fest at the original site, also August 16-18, dubbed the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, with original Woodstockians Arlo Guthrie and Santana being joined by Ringo Starr, Edgar Winter and the Doobie Brothers.
The Woodstock fest taking place at Watkins Glen is indisputably the big one — but how big? That may still be an open question. The issue left to resolve for organizers is whether they’ll be permitted to have 75,000 people or 125,000. Naturally, they’d prefer the latter, a number that will still come up hundreds of thousands short of the crowd estimate at the historic ’69 gathering.