Why Do We Love Summer Music Festivals?

July 31, 2015

Summer festivals are a huge part of the American music scene -- and of the music marketplace.  Why do millions of people risk sunburn and dehydration when they could hear the same music better with earbuds?  Music critic Maura Johnston unpacks the economics and the atavistic lure of the summer music festival.



Maura, are you aware that Louisiana has been having summer outdoor festivals for YEARS? It is not a new concept. The Jazzfest alone is a good example. As for the smaller festivals, there is Plaisance - started in 1982 - there is Breaux Bridge Crawfish festival in May - started in 1960 - there's the Festival Acadienne in Lafayette, La...etc etc etc.!
The Blackpot Festival in October. The list goes on and on. In San Francisco, The SF Blues Festival (just ended), where people have reunions and friends they only see at the festivals. These are not NEW phenomenans and they are not just filled with young people. At the Plaisance festival, there are MANY old people in wheelchairs, etc. They are family events and they are not just for "millennials". I don't see how you can talk about music festivals and not talk about Louisiana!

Charles Monroe-Kane may be in his 40s, but he's not very up on his music history or festivals. Music festivals did not just disappear after Altamont to be reborn when Lollapalooza was conceived Bumbershoot has been going on in Seattle for 40 years; South by Southwest started in 1987, for goodness' sake, JazzFest has been going strong in New Orleans since1970. I agree with the idea of the 'tribe coming together', but let's acknowledge this has been going on for decades.