Earlier today brought news of Woodstock 50’s cancelation. A statement attributed to Dentsu Aegis Network, the primary investor behind the festival, said, “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.”
Now, though, Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang is pushing back. In a statement given to the New York Times, Lang said Dentsu Aegis Network “[does] not have the right to unilaterally cancel the festival.” He added that Dentsu’s announcement caught him by surprise.
Meanwhile, the Poughkeepsie Journal quoted an unnamed festival spokesperson, who stated: “Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the festival’s cancellation and legal remedy will (be) sought.”
Lang told the Times that all of the confirmed acts have been paid in full, and he is looking for another financial backer to save the festival. According to a report from Billboard, last week Woodstock organizers reached out to AEG and LiveNation seeking a $20 million investment, but both companies declined the offer.
Even if Lang was to come up with the necessary funds, a number of other issues still need to be resolved. The Times reports that Dentsu had concerns with the site’s readiness, permitting issues, and the festival’s intended capacity, which has already been reduced from 100,000 to 75,000.
On April 15th, a week prior to the festival’s original on-sale ticket date, organizers submitted an application to New York’s Department of Health for a mass gathering permit. As of Monday, the permit is still in review, and until it is approved, the festival is legally prohibited from selling tickets. If and when tickets do finally go on sale, they’ll be priced at $450 each, according to an interview with Bloomberg.
As the co-founder of the original Woodstock festival, Lang knows a thing or two about last-minute obstacles; the 1969 festival lost its original venue just weeks before the event took place. However, Lang’s recent track record — including disastrous revivals in 1994 and 1999 — doesn’t inspire much confidence. It’s also hard to imagine that prospective festival-goers will be willing to pay half a grand for an event that’s shaping up to be Fyre Fest 2.0.
The announced Woodstock lineup includes many contemporary stars including JAY-Z, Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper, and Imagine Dragons alongside veteran artists like Robert Plant, Santana, David Crosby, John Fogerty, and Grateful Dead offshoot Dead and Company.