After a seemingly unending saga of legal drama, venue changes, and acts backing out, the organizers of Woodstock 50 are officially (and finally) canceling the music festival.
Despite the bold-faced writing on the wall that the festival wouldn’t happen, Michael Lang, cofounder of Woodstock, remained optimistic and at the ready to issue statement after statement assuring audiences and investors that the commemorative festival was indeed still a go. However, when Woodstock’s most recent Hail Mary host venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, (300 miles from Woodstock, New York), pulled out, Lang finally conceded.
“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great lineup we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” Lang said in a statement.
Lang attempted to pull off a smaller event at Merriweather Pavilion in collaboration with nonpartisan voter registration organization HeadCount when it was clear the festival he originally had in mind wasn’t happening. Lang released all the artists from their contracts, so any involvement would be voluntary. But apparently, it was too little, too late.
“While we were able to quickly eliminate the venue portion of the challenge to present Woodstock, it was just too late in the game,” Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion, said in a statement. “Hopefully, with plenty of time to prepare, Merriweather will become the site of a future festival that captures the original vibe. A lot of people clearly wanted it to happen.”
As a way of making some kind of lemonade of just so very many lemons, Lang is encouraging all the artists and agents who have been fully paid to donate 10% of their fees to social or environmental causes of their choice “in the spirit of peace.”
“Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election,” Lang said. “We thank the artists, fans, and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity.”