Eric Drucker at the Ringer on how music festivals are in the big business of selling your youth back to you. Like the concept of "forever goths" and the thought that an entire festival - not just specific reunions of bands on the bill- could be a kind of mega-reunion or flashback or form of time travel. Also the concept of a band's transition from "dated" to "classic".
"It’s been more than two decades since the first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. After a rough entry, Coachella eventually showed new generations of American concert promoters and audiences that these events were not only financially lucrative and amazing backdrops for selfies, but also the locus of culture-defining moments. Coachella inspired plenty of like-minded, goofily-named imitators around the country. Some have persisted, others have perished. (A quick RIP to All Points West, Sasquatch!, Treasure Island, Intonation …)
"Yet as the number of festivals has multiplied, a sameness has developed in their lineups. Individual identities have been lost, even among the ones with the longest histories. Coachella started in 1999 with an eye toward underground sounds and Bonnaroo launched in 2002 with a foundation in the jam band scene, but by 2022, much of their rosters can feel oddly interchangeable. And ever since Lollapalooza transitioned to a non-touring event in 2005, it has struggled to develop an ethos beyond “We heard you like music, here’s a lot of it.”
"As the live music industry hopefully enters its first full festival season since the beginning of the pandemic, some of the country’s largest promoters have unveiled or resurrected more niche festivals as alternative options. These offerings focus on a particular era or sound and are usually limited to a single day of programming, rather than the current industry standard of spreading an event out from Friday to Sunday (or longer). Entrants in this category beyond When We Were Young include the 1980s gloom fantasy Cruel World, the soul showcase Smokin Grooves, the outlaw–roots country roundup Palomino Festival, and the throwback hip-hop showcase Rock the Bells.
"... Though ticket sales for major festivals far exceed the specialty ones, there is more of a sense of excitement around these recent entries. When every festival this year seems to be headlined by Metallica, Halsey, Green Day, and/or J. Cole, it makes sense why Cruel World would get forever goths pumped about the idea of moping out to Morrissey, Bauhaus, and the Psychedelic Furs on the same day....
"In the early phases of Coachella, the festival often attracted crowds with reunions of influential bands that younger fans probably hadn’t been able to see play live in their prime—most notably Pixies, the Stooges, and Rage Against the Machine. It was said that the organizers’ dream booking was the Smiths. With all due respect to Swedish House Mafia, reunion acts no longer appear to be a core part of Coachella’s mission. But many of the other recently announced events feel like reunions for entire bygone tours and festivals. Looking at the When We Were Young lineup, it’s hard not to see it as a retread of New Jersey’s The Bamboozle, or an idealized version of a certain multistage, summer punk showcase that once traveled our country’s fairgrounds and stadium parking lots. As Told says, “The elephant in the room is the Warped Tour.”
"....For some of the acts that are playing Just Like Heaven, it will be the first time they’ve been packaged under an aura of recapturing yesteryear. The dance punk band !!! played Coachella three times between 2004 and 2011. The group has been consistently putting out music for more than two decades and still tours clubs regularly. “We’ve never played the hits,” says Nic Offer, !!!’s frontperson. “Also we didn’t really have hits that were big enough that people are always going to be screaming for them, so we’ve been lucky in that.”
"...When Goldenvoice approached !!! last year about Just Like Heaven, they were reluctant, not wanting to get shunted into the old band category. “There’s that transition from dated to classic,” Offer says. “I think every musician is kind of counting on that moment when it’ll happen to them. And, you know, it looks like this is going to be the moment where it starts to happen for bands like us.”