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.
Over the weekend, Austin City Limits concluded its second weekend, marking the unofficial end to festival season for 2018. Oh, don’t be fooled. Festival season doesn’t really ever end these days, as the fact that it is a global market means there is warm weather somewhere all year long. And sometimes warm weather isn’t even required, as Uproxx will be bringing coverage from Iceland Airwaves, Mexico City’s Corona Capital, and Los Angeles’ hip-hop festivals Rolling Loud and Camp Flog Gnaw in the coming weeks. December will offer the strange, singular world of radio station holiday festivals, while January and February still provide scattered domestic events and giant fests in places south of the equator.
But the end of the traditional festival season, typically symbolized as the time between Coachella and ACL, does still have significance even in the 365-day festival cycle. Coachella generally symbolizes a changing of the guard, with many acts launching the live shows that they will bring to music festivals all year long, while ACL represents a conclusion to that narrative, as generally the last big outdoor music festival that can book acts in the realm of Paul McCartney’s status. Also, as both are the only two-weekend festivals that have managed to make that format successful, the two festivals’ symbolic places are also rooted in metrics. They’ve earned their status through sheer success, and as of yet, no other music festivals have managed to re-center that narrative.
So, what better time to look ahead at the year to come than the conclusion of ACL. Because of the cyclical nature of the music world, ACL can also feel like the beginning of something as much as it is the end, and that narrative felt very true with the originally scheduled headlining performance from Childish Gambino. Unfortunately, Donald Glover injured himself in the weeks leading up to the event and wound up canceling his ACL set and rescheduling the rest of his arena tour. Shortly after this, Hits Daily Double claimed to have the Coachella scoop, naming Gambino, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West their rumored Coachella 2019 headliners. As someone that had fun surmising the Coachella 2019 docket a year early, I was relatively pleased to at least get one right.
Gambino’s expected Coachella performance should cement him to big-festival-headliner status quickly, ultimately making his injury a coup for the SoCal event and a major loss for ACL. Let’s start there as we break down some of the players we expect to make a major impact on 2019 music festivals.