×

Fantasy Woodstock: A Part Reality, Part Dream Lineup for the 50th Anniversary Fest

What would we like to see at Woodstock 2019? Just a Zeppelin, Floyd or White Stripes reunion. But we'd settle for Axl and Dylan knockin' on Watkins Glen's door.

Following the announcement of Woodstock 50, which will be held on Aug. 16-18 in Watkins Glen, New York, fans immediately began coming up with their dream lineups for the 50th anniversary of the world’s most famous music festival. Michael Lang, the creator and producer of the original fest and its two follow-ups in 1994 and 1999, promises more than 60 acts featuring “the biggest names and emerging talent in rock, hip-hop, pop and country.” He also says the lineup will be “primarily contemporary talent, but legacy acts will be represented and honored.”

With that in mind, we created a fantasy line-up for the festival that brings back some of the artists that made Woodstock a household name, some inaugural Woodstock artists and current artists across many genres.

The True Fantasy Acts

Led Zeppelin: Woodstock 50 needs at least one marquee reunion to be the ultimate draw. If Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were to reunite for Woodstock, for the first time since a 2007 one-off, it wouldn’t just be the signature story of the event — it might be the biggest entertainment story of the year. Plant has made his “never going back” feelings clear, so the odds of this are about as likely as Jimi Hendrix rising from the dead to headline the festival. But a generation can dream.

Pink Floyd: While a Pink Floyd reunion is almost as far-fetched, Nick Mason has been publicly urging Roger Waters and David Gilmour to reconcile. Assuming that doesn’t happen, a crowd that’s eager for something with a decided counterculture bent would still be pleased with Roger Waters and his political flying pig. Waters has talked about wanting to find a way to tie “The Wall” directly in with the connotations that title has in 2019. Might Woodstock be the place to make that statement in the biggest possible way?

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: The original Woodstock was their second gig ever. They reunited at Woodstock 94, and gathering again to perform a set featuring their signature cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” is a natural — or it would be, if the last few years hadn’t generated completely irreconcilable differences between Crosby and Young that could scotch any chances of another reunion in their respective lifetimes. Is there enough money in the world, and/or peace and love, to make those guys like each other again for a night?

The White Stripes: Yes, we know. Meg is retired from music for good. Jack White has said it’ll never happen. But this is a reunion that would be almost as invigorating for Gen Z as the others would be for their boomer parents and grandparents.

Legacy Acts

Dead & Company: And now, into the realm of the possible. The Grateful Dead performed at the original Woodstock, but their set was full of technical issues caused by an overwhelming amount of rain. The band wasn’t thrilled with their performance, but still threw down an insane 40-minute “Turn on Your Love Light.” A chance at redemption is in order, especially since John Mayer’s addition has breathed life into the band’s rich catalog.

Bob Dylan: No one embodies the feeling of seeing our way through political upheaval and cultural uncertainty that fueled the original Woodstock more than Bob Dylan and, while he turned down an invitation to perform in 1969, he’d be just as vital at the top of the bill today.

Paul McCartney: The Beatles were disbanding in 1969 and Sir Paul has never performed at any of the previous Woodstock incarnations. He, alongside a special appearance with Ringo Starr, would be a memorable performance.

Carlos Santana: The iconic guitarist was just 22 when he wowed the audience at Woodstock. His Latin and bluesy-infused performance still resonates today and his spiritual nature would tap back into that energy.

The Who: The original Woodstock vets just announced a new album and tour. While the peace and love vibe doesn’t truly resonate with Pete Townsend, they’d come full circle playing their rendition of “Summertime Blues” at Woodstock 50.

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Clapton and Winwood teamed up for the short-lived Blind Faith, formed from the ashes of Traffic and Cream, back in 1969. They released one album, toured and called it quits. The duo reconvened in 2007 for three shows that were so successful that they went on full-fledged tour in 2009. It’s a perfect pairing that would see them perform most of the songs from their 50-year-old effort.

The Rolling Stones: On the list of the biggest bands at the time that did not perform at the original Woodstock, the Stones get their chance to get their “Rocks Off.”

Bruce Springsteen: The Boss is a prolific artist who has never appeared at a Woodstock fest. His lengthy concerts are legendary and he could play late into the night to the diverse crowd.

Aerosmith: The legendary rockers delivered a memorable set at Woodstock 94. Following their 2019 Las Vegas residency, the boys will be ready to return to the big stage 25 years later.

Rock and Heavy Metal:

Alice in Chains: The band was on the original line-up for Woodstock 94 but had to bail due to late vocalist Layne Staley’s addiction issues. The still relevant rockers could finally get their chance to play Woodstock with frontman William Duvall.

Guns N’ Roses: A few years ago, this would’ve been inconceivable — and while they are not about peace, love and understanding, they’re back, in fighting form and even take the stage in a timely manner these days.

Rage Against the Machine: Tom Morello is one of the most politically active artists today. RATM, who played a toned-down show following Limp Bizkit’s near riot inducing set at Woodstock 99, would be a tremendous reunion and Morello would channel Jimi Hendrix with his outrageous guitar style.

System of a Down: SOAD combines political and human rights activism with their unique brand of heavy metal.

Metallica: The American metal pioneers performed at Woodstock 99. While that fest ended up in a disaster with fires breaking out during the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Metallica fans kept a cool demeanor the previous night.

Tool: The progressive metal titans have a new album in the pipeline, and while they may not be an obvious choice for this stage, the group’s intense live show would open minds and win over any non-believers.

Alabama Shakes: Brittany Howard’s ambient and bluesy rock was made for the Woodstock stage.

Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl is American rock ‘n’ roll royalty. His good guy tendencies make him a rock star we can all root for and the band is helping keep rock alive with the masses.

The Lennon Claypool Delirium: The group pairs Primus’ brainchild Les Claypool with Beatle offspring Sean Lennon, and their psychedelic sounds will have people wondering if they took the “brown acid.”

Gary Clark Jr.: The Austin-born guitarist is this generation’s Hendrix.

The Black Crowes: Another enormous reunion, albeit far-fetched, the Crowes were one of the few bands that kept the flower child vibe alive during the 90s into the 2000s.

Portugal. The Man: They’ve built a fan base the old-fashioned way, by touring relentlessly and creating a grassroots following. Their latest album is titled “Woodstock,” inspired by frontman John Gourley’s father, who discovered a lost ticket stub to the original concert.

Phish: The veteran jam band has been giving hippies an excuse to follow them around the country since 1983. While they have been staging their own three-day festivals for more than two decades, an anniversary of Woodstock would feel empty without Trey Anastasio and company bringing their psychedelic sounds to the stage.

The Revivalists: The New Orleans rock band’s throwback vibe and sometimes socially conscious lyrics (including the anti-gun violence song “Shoot You Down”) would resonate with the Woodstock audience.

Gov’t Mule: Warren Hayes would be the perfect artist to lead tributes to his former group the Allman Brothers Band, as well as the Band.

Galactic: The New Orleans jazzy funk group would be perfect for an uplifting daytime set to get the crowd going.

Circles Around the Sun: Neal Casal’s brainchild created the intermission music for the 2015 Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well concerts, and have been sonically stretching the boundaries of psychedelic instrumental rock since.

Tame Impala: The millennial version of stoner-sludge has tentacles in hip-hop and beyond.

Hip-Hop:

Outkast: The Atlanta group reunited for Coachella and an ensuing tour in 2014. Five years later they’d be another colossal reunion for Woodstock 50.

Wu-Tang Clan: One of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time belong on this stage.

Nas: One of the best MCs in history, his social-conscious rhymes fit into the overall festival vibe.

Kendrick Lamar: The new king of hip-hop balances his tremendous talent with social commentary.

Jay-Z: The OG of hip-hop is as relevant today as he was in his ’90s heyday. A host of collaborations would make for a memorable Woodstock set, whether or not Beyoncé was one of them.

Chance the Rapper: The politically and socially active artist has done a lot of good in his hometown of Chicago and beyond.

Childish Gambino: He made waves with “This is America,” shedding light on racial injustice and other social issues in one the most-talked about music videos in a long time.

Post Malone: The biggest musical star of the moment brings his laid back stylings to the stage.

Country

Willie Nelson: The 85-year-old country legend fits right into the wheelhouse, with his longtime love of marijuana and his politically driven 2018 song “Vote ‘Em Out.”

Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real: Willie Nelson’s son has been on the rise since teaming up with Lady Gaga on “Find Yourself” in 2014. Nelson also worked with Gaga and Bradley Cooper co-producing the music for “A Star is Born” and his band is featured in the film.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The former Drive-By Trucker bridges the gap between rock and country. Isbell would be at home at Woodstock

Keith Urban: One of the biggest artists in country, Urban crosses genres with slick guitar skills. Plus, we can’t resist the chance to see Nicole Kidman grooving in the mud.

Kacey Musgraves: She goes outside the country box by singing about marijuana, LGTBQ acceptance and questioning religion.

Dixie Chicks: The country divas took a hit when criticizing President George Bush in 2003 and have been fighting the good fight since.

Pop and EDM

Madonna: The iconic artist is a freethinker and has opened many minds along the way while pushing boundaries throughout her career.

Beyoncé: She set the bar for 21st century festival sets with her Coachella appearance. She won’t rest, at least for long, without wanting to top herself.

Bruno Mars: He’s a true throwback artist who combines smooth dance moves with his R&B and soul-infused pop.

Kelly Clarkson: The perfect American success story. The first winner of “American Idol” has forged an incredible career with her powerful voice.

Pink: Her Janis Joplin vibe and acrobatic live show would be ripe for a tribute to the late singer, who performed an epic set at the original Woodstock.

Ariana Grande: This chart topper has legit pipes and a fan base that will buy a ticket to the festival just to see her on stage. Plus, should Woodstock be the only festival not featuring her this summer?

Halsey: “Without Me” is the current number one hit and her electro pop songs are sing-along ready for the millennials that want Woodstock to be their east coast Coachella.

Lady Gaga: The eclectic and talented artist will have even her casual fans flocking to the stage to see she wears and what kind of show she will bring to Woodstock.

Taylor Swift: She came out politically before the midterm elections in October. She shared her Democratic views and vowed to vote for candidates that protect and fight for human rights of all Americans regardless of race, sexual orientation. While she’s not political on the stage, she will bring her high energy for a fun set.

Sheryl Crow: She performed at Woodstock 94 and 99. Her poppy and uplifting songs are perfect for a daytime set.

Rihanna: Promising new music in 2019, Woodstock welcomes the Caribbean queen whose attitude and reggae beginnings are in line with the festival’s ideals.

Janelle Monae: Her unique style and socially conscious lyrics are perfect for the Woodstock stage.

Diplo, Marshmello, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, Zedd, Steve Aoki and Bassnectar: Our dream Woodstock will have the obligatory DJ tent, with these EDM household names spinning late into the night. Glow sticks and ecstasy optional.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

  • 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band

    Film Review: 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas'

    Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards? If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z to Acquire Ownership Stake in NFL Team (Report)

    Jay-Z will soon acquire a “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team, TMZ reported on Friday. The team was not disclosed, but a source told the site the deal will happen in the “near future,” adding that the billionaire rapper “wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.” Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation, [...]

  • Blake Shelton, Trace AdkinsCMA Music Festival

    Blake Shelton Takes a Shot at 'Old Town Road' in New Single

    Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins have just released a duet, “Hell Right,” that seems to have a beef with “Old Town Road.” But is it a light-hearted, maybe even affectionate slam — or should anyone read culture-war significance into the two country stars expressing a preference for Hank Williams Jr. over Lil Nas X, the breakout [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Teddy Riley Walk of Fame

    From Blackstreet to Hollywood Blvd. as Teddy Riley Receives a Star on the Walk of Fame

    Many musical artists are responsible for hits, whether recording and writing for themselves or producing smashes for others. Teddy Riley’s got the success, having fashioned platinum-plated R&B works for, and with, Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson, Keith Sweat, Doug E. Fresh and more since the mid-’80s, not to mention the music of his own slick soul [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content