Festival Feed: Whores, Whores, Whores

We dig fests. Plain and simple. That’s why we put together a bi-weekly “gossip column” of sorts where festival enthusiasts like Carson O’Shoney and Harry Painter can kick around their adoration (and frustration) at the current market. We’ll try to keep it clean – at least for the most part – but, all in all, this is going to be the place where we vent. Festivalgoers, here’s your new favorite column.

Ever since Coachella announced its lineup back in January, we here at CoS have been in full-on festival mode. Between SXSW kicking off the festival season last month and our first major festival coming up this weekend with Coachella, we’re going to take a minute to reflect on what we have so far. It’s now mid-April, so granted we already have some major lineups at our disposal – most notably Coachella and Bonnaroo – but we’ve still got some to look forward to.

This year’s festival season seems just like any other, but it’s all new and exciting at the same time. Each festival has its own crowd of people waiting on pins and needles for the lineup announcement. That can mean staying up all night or getting up at the crack of dawn. (For us, it’s like the night before Christmas.) This season hasn’t brought many surprises – rumors of the Rolling Stones for Bonnaroo didn’t materialize, nor did the usual Blur/Bowie/Smiths for Coachella (though, really guys, Bowie and The Smiths?) – which leaves us with a group of solid, if largely unspectacular lineups. It seems that with each new year of festivals comes the realization that there are only so many bands out there. Many acts that used to be met with excitement when they were included in your favorite festival’s lineup have now become old hat. So now, instead of it being like Christmas when you’re a kid – full of excitement over what wonders might be under the tree – it’s more like Christmas as an adult; you know you’re probably just getting some nice cards. Sure there might be one nice thing or two in there, but it’ll probably just be the same thing you get every year.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of things we’ve learned over many years of overanalyzing festival lineups. We’ll go into detail with one in each edition of the Festival Feed. This week’s inclusion goes right along with the unoriginality of most lineups this year.

Festival whores will be festival whores

Every year, there’s a group of bands that seem to be playing every festival they possibly can. These have come to be known, for better or for worse, as festival whores. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Some bands are just better suited for festivals than others. But other times it’s all about the money. Either way, it can get to a point where sometimes it’s just boring to see one of those bands on a lineup. These are this year’s worst offenders, many of whom might be taking up a big spot at your favorite festival.

The Black Keys: They’re already confirmed for five U.S. festivals so far this year (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Hangout, Outside Lands, and Summerfest), and they’ve been repeat performers at just about every festival they’ve played. As they keep getting bigger and bigger, they keep getting invited back to festivals to play bigger and bigger slots, including a huge #4 spot at Bonnaroo this year. Over the past five years, they’ve played Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza three times each. For festivals that try to get new and fresh lineups each year, that’s neither new nor fresh.


Photo by Karina Halle

The Flaming Lips: I have a theory that it’s the mission of The Flaming Lips to play every festival out there. Year after year, they sure seem set on doing just that. Frontman Wayne Coyne has said that their live show is built for festivals, and it shows. After conquering the major festivals – Lolla, Coachella, Roo, and ACL – they’ve started their takeover of the smaller festivals out there from Pitchfork to Nashville’s Rites of Spring. This year, you can find them at U.S. festivals like Beale Street, Hangout, Harmony, Snowball, and even at Dave Matthews Band’s Caravan – both the Atlantic City and Chicago editions (so far).

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The Strokes: Even though The Strokes were dormant for years until very recently, that hasn’t stopped them from playing any festival they can since their return. Originally, frontman Julian Casablancas claimed they would play four summer festivals last year but later said they kept getting big offers from festivals, so they kept accepting. After playing Lollapalooza and ACL last year, you can find them at the other big two (Coachella and Bonnaroo) this year in addition to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, newcomer Sweetlife Festival, and a slew of overseas festival dates including Summer Sonic, Reading & Leeds, Oxygen, and Benicàssim. They’ve still yet to announce more than a few actual headlining dates, preferring to stick with mostly festivals since their comeback.

My Morning Jacket: Chalk this one up to being one of those bands that just rocks at festivals. Since MMJ’s music has a broad appeal – fans include everyone from hipsters to hippies – they have the ability to play a wide variety of festivals. They’re making their triumphant return to Bonnaroo this year after a two-year absence (their longest since first playing the fest in 2003) following their now legendary four-hour marathon of a late-night set in 2008. In addition, you can also find them at other hippie-friendly fests like Wakarusa, Mountain Jam, High Sierra, and Hangout.

Foo Fighters: Like The Strokes, coming back from a few years of dormancy gives the Foo Fighters the perfect chance to play as many festivals as possible. Before they took their break, they were the #1 headliner at ACL. Now, they’re stepping back into the spotlight without missing a beat, topping the lineups for both Hangout and Sasquatch. They’re also more or less confirmed for Lollapalooza, too, per Greg Kot, who has a pretty good track record for leaking Lolla headliners. Three festivals in the U.S. might not seem like that much, but their real “whoring” comes overseas, where they’re currently slated for at least seven festivals, including Greenfield, Optimus Alive!, and T in the Park.

Don’t forget to keep checking back here throughout the festival season for more editions of Festival Feed!

You’re partied out, man!


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