The music festival has for decades been an occasion for large gatherings, meeting old friends and making new ones in a vibrant and convivial atmosphere, enjoying shared interests and just having a good old fashioned party. From the Woodstock Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music of the 1960s to the present day, the natives of the USA and Northern Europe in particular have liked little more than taking their tents to a field and spending a few days communing with nature and perhaps checking out a live band or two.
Present day festivals of note in the U.S. include the famous Burning Man at Black Rock in the Nevada desert and The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which takes place from June 10-12 at the Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee.
Bonnaroo 2011 boasts an extremely lengthy and undeniably impressive cast list of performers. Eminem is turning up, as is Lil Wayne. There will also be sets by the likes of Dennis Coffey, Black Uhuru, Wiz Khalifa and The Black Keys. In total, well over 100 acts will be taking to the different stages across the weekend. The festival has been sold out since February, as it is pretty much every year, so if you haven’t got your ticket yet then it seems you’re destined to miss out on the event.
Well, perhaps not quite, because this year for the first time the whole festival weekend is to be streamed live on the Internet. It’s no substitute for the atmosphere of actually being there, but it’s certainly a great deal cheaper, involves less travel and is unlikely to involve sleeping in a tent, which most people will see as a positive.
So is this the future of music festivals? Sitting at home, possibly with a few friends and watching all the performances live online, venturing no further from the comfort of your couch than perhaps to the fridge for a beer every once in a while? You would have to think it unlikely, but it certainly represents another change in our everyday lives engendered by the technological revolution.
In time, history will likely view this as a mere stepping stone to a longer line of revolutionary developments – the festivals of the next decade may well be predominantly attended in real time virtual reality, with neither performers nor audience actually enduring any real discomfort, a kind of Second Life, Festival Edition, if you will.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the show. If you’re going in person, remember to get plenty of pictures for your Facebook page and maybe send out the odd tweet if you can get an Internet signal. The rest of us will pull up a chair and turn on the computer.