Festival Frequency is a monthly look at music festival-related topics that step beyond the shadow of the Ferris wheel, discussing everything from the performances to the inner workings that make this a global phenomenon.
How will the 2018 festival year be remembered? Well, it will likely be thought of as the year that representation became more than a talking point, with Primavera Sound ending 2018 by announcing a lineup for 2019 that sought 50/50 representation. Unfortunately, the move didn’t always work, with FYF Fest seeing its most diverse lineup ever and ultimately having to cancel from a lack of ticket sales. But then at Coachella, we saw a Black woman perform what might be considered the best festival set of all time. Progress comes slow, but it does feel like the industry is changing for the better.
Elsewhere, rock music continued to become a less bankable festival option, with some festivals continuing to move away from the genre. Instead, we saw the ascension to headliner status from the likes of Cardi B (on just one album), Travis Scott, and Post Malone, with the latter two even finishing the year with their very own music festivals. With festival culture moving largely towards hip-hop and pop, and the biggest artists in those worlds less beholden to fests than ever (there’s a reason you didn’t see Taylor Swift or Drake headlining events this year), it puts big festivals in an interesting predicament, where they might not even be able to offer up the artists their attendees most want to see in the coming years. Time will tell how it all shakes out, but with a number of fests rumored to be on the edge of destruction (and many others already calling it quits in 2018), fests will need to continue to evolve.
That’s why so many of our favorite festivals this year know who they are and have very specific missions. Genre fests are more popular than ever, as are lifestyle festivals. International events are so exciting because their fans have more wide-ranging tastes. And the biggest of the bunch, the Coachellas and ACLs and Lollapaloozas of the world, manage to put together lineups that capture exactly where the music world is at the moment. The successes seem bigger than ever.
The following are just a small sampling of the many festivals to win our hearts this year. We would be remiss without mentioning the wonderful city takeover of Boise’s Treefort Music Festival or how Boston Calling is slowly building something special in the Northeast. We went to Mexico for Corona Capital and were charmed by the people and the culture at we saw one of the most unique events in the world at Iceland’s Secret Solstice. Incredible artists like Damon Albarn and Dave Grohl showed that some of the best festivals come from the minds of those who perform at them. And there’s so many festivals that Uproxx wasn’t able to make it to, like England’s All Points East, Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival, and Barcelona’s Primavera Sound that all appeared to have amazing things happening in 2018. Hopefully we’ll make it next year.
2018 is in the books. We can’t wait to discover more great festivals in 2019.