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Jay-Z, Janelle Monae, and Other Reasons Woodstock 2019 Might Not Be Disastrous

The festival's 50th anniversary has a lot of past chaos to make up for, but is starting out strong with a stacked lineup.

by Taylor Hosking
Mar 20 2019, 5:08pm

Stephane Cardinale / Kevin Mazur Getty Images

The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival is going to set it off the summer with a stacked lineup that spans genres and ages. The festival's website released their lineup Tuesday, which includes everyone from hip-hop stars Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, Common, and Princess Nokia to pop/rock stars like Janelle Monae, The Black Keys, The Killers, Miley Cyrus, and Imagine Dragons. Over forty artists and thousands of fans are expected to descend on Watkins Glen, New York, August 16-18, just miles from the festival’s original location in the fields of Bethel, New York.

The festival is being organized by Michael Lang, one of its original co-creators, who told Rolling Stone he thought Woodstock’s 30th anniversary in 1999 was “just a musical experience with no social significance.” The horny, rowdy audience and terrible lineup earned it the dubious honor of “the day the 90s died.” But for this one, he’s working to make it much more, bringing an eclectic mix of genres that span the decades of popular music.

“We’re going back to our roots and our original intent,” he said. “And this time around, we’ll have control of everything.” That 1999 festival was also famously a logistical hot mess, with people walking over a mile between stages, hot tarmac, barely any free water, a massive fire in the middle of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ set, and multiple reported sexual assaults taking place in moshpits.

But Lang said he wants this summer’s anniversary to be the “antithesis” of 1999’s. There are a number of artists on the bill that also performed at the original 1969 festival, like Dead and Company, Santana, John Fogerty, John Sebastian, and Country Joe McDonald. Lang told Rolling Stone he’s interested in having newer contemporary artists interpret some of the music from the original festival, as well as looking for any unique collaborations. (Can we get a Jimi Hendrix hologram in the mix or what?)

And for those interested in popping by the original location of the festival, there will also be a separate Bethel Woods Music and Cultural Festival taking place at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the same dates with performances by Ringo Starr and Santana.

As for the main event though, tickets go on sale April 22. And seeing as there aren’t many hotels in the area, people may also have to figure out how to get one of those glamping tents Lang mentioned to avoid having too much of the “authentic” Woodstock experience.

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