Festival is in jeopardy after financial backer pulls out
The Woodstock 50 saga continues. Earlier this week, financial backers Dentsu Aegis Network “canceled” the 50th anniversary festival scheduled for August 16-18th at Watkins Glen, NY. Less than 24 hours later, promoter and founder Michael Lang insisted the show would continue with new backers. Now, Billboard reports that the artists on the bill are not contractually obligated to perform after Dentsu pulled out.
“The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50,” an agent with artists booked for the event tells the publication.
However, Lang’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, who is best known for briefly representing President Donald Trump during the Russia probe investigation and also serving as his personal outside attorney, counteracts those statements with an email sent to Billboard.
“A story just ran in Billboard saying that the Woodstock 50 artists can terminate their contracts because the agreements were with Dentsu and the festival is canceled,” Kasowitz writes. “Both those statements are untrue. The artists’ agreements are with Woodstock 50 LLC and the festival has not been canceled and preparations are continuing.”
Despite this claim, artists agencies are still stating that the contracts were with Dentsu and are void since they pulled out, along with producer Superfly, over permits that have yet to be attained. “First, no one from Lang’s office or Woodstock 50 has called us to let us know what is going on,” one agency representative tells Billboard. “Second, our contract was with Amplifi Live, not with Woodstock 50.”
More than 80 artists were announced in March — later than expected for an event of this magnitude — including The Killers, Miley Cyrus, The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, The Black Keys — who pulled out before all of the canceled chaos — Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, and original Woodstock ’69 icons Santana and Dead & Company, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, David Crosby and Friends, John Fogerty and more.
Tickets were set to go on sale on April 22nd, but were delayed, likely due to not having attained the required permits from state and local authorities for the three day event.
Lang confirms to the New York Times that they’re still working on the permits and planning on producing the show without Dentsu’s support. “We are a few days away from permits; we are in talks with investors who are anxious to come in,” he says. “We have a short window to put this back together. That’s obvious. We feel it’s enough time, and there is enough interest, that we think we will accomplish it.”
Many are comparing Woodstock 50’s disastrous start to the failed Fyre Festival in 2017 that put founder Billy McFarland behind bars due to fraud. However, Lang states the original Woodstock nearly didn’t happen either.
“Funnily enough, this kind of fits the legacy of Woodstock in a way. In 1969, we got kicked out of Wallkill a month before the festival was to happen. One of the miracles was that we found a site the next day,” he says. “Woodstock is kind of about … I don’t know how describe it other than that it’s just about commitment. We’re committed. We were committed then, and we’re not stopping now.”
More details as they become available.