UPDATED: The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed.
Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey — received a notice from festival talent buyer Danny Wimmer Presents that reads, according to Hits Daily Double, “There is currently a hold on the Woodstock 50 on-sale date. We are waiting on an official press statement from Woodstock 50 regarding updated announce, ticket pricing, and overall festival information. We will get this information to you as soon as we receive it.”
Tim O’Hearn, administrator for Schuyler County, where the event is scheduled to be held, told the Poughkeepsie Journal that the state Department of Health is reviewing Woodstock 50’s permit application, which he said was submitted April 15. The state must issue a temporary permit for events before ticket sales can begin, he said. Ticket prices have not been revealed in the month since the festival’s lineup was announced.
A spokesperson for the festival seemed to dispute reports of trouble in a statement to Variety that reads: “Woodstock is a phenomenon that for fifty years has drawn attention to its principles and also the rumors that can be attached to that attention. Just more rumors.”
The news is the latest in a bumpy path for the 50th-anniversary festival, scheduled for August 16-18, the same dates as the original 1969 event. Organizers were unable to lock down the upstate New York site of the original Woodstock, which is now Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, opting instead for the 1,000-acre Watkins Glen International racetrack, some 150 miles northwest (and considerably farther from New York and other major cities, a consideration for a festival that hopes to draw more than 100,000 people). While music festivals have been held at the racetrack before, including two Phish festivals and the 1973 “Summer Jam” (which featured the Band, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band and drew a then-record 600,000 people), concerns arose about the accessibility of the site, which is around 20 miles from the nearest interstate highway. Last year Phish’s planned Curveball festival was cancelled at the last minute due to tainted water, however that issue was weather-related, stemming from overflow from strong storms in the days before the event.
Early in March, rumors emerged about financing problems, which were dismissed in a statement to Variety by Michael Lang, a cofounder of the original festival and a key organizer of Woodstock 50. “There’s always been lots of rumors around Woodstock,” he said in a statement to Variety. “We’re preparing a once in a lifetime event.”
Two weeks later, the festival announced its blockbuster lineup, yet concerns continued; originally scheduled headliners the Black Keys, pulled out of the festival four weeks after the lineup was announced, citing scheduling conflicts.
The festival’s top-billed artists have been paid in advance, a source tells Variety, with the money being held in escrow.
Also included in the lineup are the Raconteurs, Robert Plant and the Sensational Shapeshifters, Run the Jewels, Gary Clark Jr., Cage the Elephant, Greta Van Fleet, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Portugal the Man, Dawes, the Lumineers, Bishop Briggs, Pussy Riot, Courtney Barnett, Leon Bridges, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, John Fogerty, Common, Young the Giant and the Zombies. The bill also includes more than a half-dozen artists who performed at the original 1969 festival: Santana, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Sebastian, CSNY’s David Crosby, Melanie, Country Joe McDonald and Canned Heat. The 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.
The Woodstock 50th anniversary is being produced under license from Woodstock Ventures, which was founded by Lang with original festival co-founders Joel Rosenman and the late John Roberts; Artie Kornfeld, who co-produced the 1969 event, is rejoining the team for Woodstock 50.