Although the all-star lineup – featuring Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Dead & Company, the Raconteurs and dozens more, including acts from the original Woodstock fest – was announced in early March, tickets for the festival did not go on sale; a planned Earth Day on-sale in April was postponed due to reported permit issues.
However, on Monday, Dentsu, one of the festival’s main investment arm, announced that Woodstock 50, organized in part by Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang, would not proceed.
“It’s a dream for agencies to work with iconic brands and to be associated with meaningful movements,” Dentsu said in a statement. “We have a strong history of producing experiences that bring people together around common interests and causes which is why we chose to be a part of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival.”
The company continued, “But despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees. As a result and after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival. As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”
Imagine Dragons, Kacey Musgraves, Run the Jewels, Chance the Rapper, Halsey, John Fogerty, Robert Plant and dozens more were booked to play the Watkins Glen, New York festival on August 16th through 18th, exactly 50 years after the original festival; another 50-year anniversary event is planned for Bethel, New York at the site of the original Woodstock.
At a press conference announcing Woodstock 50 in March, Lang said of the event, “What we’ve assembled here is a combination of some of the great artists from our era and many of the great artists of today and hopefully some of the great artists of tomorrow. Many of these artists are committed to social change, have their own issues that they support, but also support these global issues of climate change and Black Lives Matter.”
Rumors about the fate of Woodstock 50 began when the festival missed its April 22nd on-sale date. “There is currently a hold on the Woodstock 50 on-sale date; the festival reportedly didn’t acquire a mass gathering permit from the New York State Department of Health. Organizers denied claims at the time that the festival would be canceled.
“Woodstock is a phenomenon that for 50 years has drawn attention to its principles and also the rumors that can be attached to that attention,” Lang said, dismissing the rumors. However, after a week passed without updated ticket information, Dentsu canceled Woodstock 50 Monday. According to Billboard, the festival was canceled due to concerns about the capacity of the festival, permit issues and site readiness.
The Watkins Glen, New York site has now seen large-scale music festivals canceled in consecutive years: In 2018, Phish’s Curveball was called off at the last minute due to water conditions at the festival site.