A highly anticipated celebration of the storied Woodstock festival’s 50th anniversary appeared under threat Monday, with a primary investor saying it was canceled as promoters held it was still on.
Contemporary heavyweights including Jay-Z, along with veteran acts like Santana, were to play the anniversary weekend August 16-18 in upstate New York’s Watkins Glen.
But Amplifi Live, a lead financier of the festival, released a statement saying that “despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees”.
“As a result and after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival,” said the statement obtained by AFP.
“As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”
But organizers are disputing that the festival has been scrapped, according to upstate New York’s Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper, which quoted them as saying “Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the festival’s cancellation and legal remedy will (be) sought.”
Woodstock promoters did not immediately respond to an AFP inquiry.
Amplifi Live is the investment arm of Dentsu Aegis Network, a London-based marketing firm owned by the Japanese company Dentsu.
The 2019 edition of peace, love and music was to span genres in a bid to appeal to fans of the original weekend — where icons including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin jammed in the pouring rain — as well as today’s young concert-goers.
But last week ticket sales were postponed for the festival to “refine logistical plans,” while a report from industry insider Billboard cited concerns over capacity — some 100,000 festival-goers were anticipated — site readiness and permit snags.
According to Billboard, Amplifi Live has already invested some $30 million on the star-studded line-up.
The festival, slated to be held about 185 kilometers from the original 1969 site, is separate from an anniversary concert planned for that spot over the same weekend.