August 16th is approaching and we still don’t know if Woodstock 50 is happening. Founder, Michael Lang, has insisted the show will go on. But as things started to fall apart, the festival’s investors, Dentsu and Superfly, pulled out altogether. Now there’s a battle going on between Dentsu and Lang, who filed for an injunction in order to retrieve the (nearly) 18 million dollars. Dentsu’s lawyer retaliated in a strong-worded statement:
” But Woodstock 50 LLC’s and Michael Lang’s misrepresentations, incompetence, and contractual breaches have made it impossible to produce a high-quality event that is safe and secure for concertgoers, artists, and staff. The production company has quit, no permits have been issued, necessary roadwork has not begun, and there is no prospect for sufficient financing. As much as the parties might wish it otherwise, the festival contemplated by their agreement cannot happen and allowing it to go forward would only put the public at risk. The injunction sought by W50, even if there were a legal basis for it, cannot change that.”
— Marc L. Greenwald, attorney for Dentsu Inc.
According to Billboard’s sources, Lang had been planning this festival since 2014. Many of his colleagues tried telling him to scale back his plans. They believed that converting Watkins Glenn International Speedway into a camping festival would be a mistake. There were other variables that became red flags for the investors. Initially, Lang set the attendance to 150,000 people, which exceeds Coachella’s 125,000. Lang attempted to compromise for 100,000, but Superfly denied that motion. 75,000 was the best they could do to follow safety guidelines. The stark drop meant that Woodstock 50’s prices would skyrocket.
This altercation between Lang and his investors demonstrate the sharp change between executing a festival in 69′ versus now. Lang held on to the belief that nostalgia from an older generation would be enough to drive sales for a festival that has been shoddy from the start. He’s trying to encapsulate the grit and grassroots movement the original festival had, and though it is an honorable effort, times have changed.
The concept of a festival — the execution — can no longer be as free-spirited and wild. There are rules that need to be followed, money that needs to be allocated wisely, and star power above all else. The event is planned to take place in under 100 days. Tickets have yet to go on sale, and without Dentsu’s $18 million dollars, Woodstock 50 is running out of time.