At the beginning of last week, the general public really didn’t have much idea what the 2018 music festival landscape would look like, besides that Beyonce would headline Coachella. Now in just the second week of January, the 2018 prospects look particularly bleak. For years, writers have preached of a festival bubble bursting, so much so that it seemed like it was happening in real time. But in 2018, it seems even worse than a loud pop. Maybe this is how festivals end, not with a bang but a whimper.
Six of America’s big, well-established, multi-genre festivals have already announced their lineups for 2018: Alabama’s Hangout, California’s Coachella, New York’s Governors Ball, Boston’s (obvs) Boston Calling, Georgia’s Shaky Knees, and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo. Among those, Eminem is headlining four of the events, and is the top-billed headliner at all of those but Coachella. Shady’s bona fides don’t need to be stated, but the fact remains that he’s supporting what is generally regarded as a bad album and is only four years removed from his last run of tours and festival headlining appearances. That’s only slightly longer out of the spotlight than Jack White, who was last headlining festivals in 2015 and has returned to top three of these posters this year. If anything, White holds more luster because at least he represents unheard music from 2018. At the time of the scheduled performances, the hope is that White will be at the height of his 2018 relevance.
Among these six festivals, there are 12 total headliners: Em, White, Bey, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens Of The Stone Age, The National, Muse, The Killers, The Chainsmokers, and Kendrick Lamar. Of those, only Em, White, and Bey are unique to 2018, as all of the others toured last year, most of them extensively. So if looking at these top lines has caused a general sigh or groan from music fans, it’s for a reason.