From “The spirit of Woodstock is dead” by Rebecca Armendariz in The Guardian:
Woodstock was all about the bands and the vibe. Today’s corporate festivals simply cannot foster the same camaraderie
….At festivals these days, everything’s about the lineup, the merchandise, the overpriced beer and complaining about having to suffer through many mediocre 40-minute sets to get to the good stuff. At Woodstock, it was all good stuff.
The wealth of music and its many specialised genres today make it harder to hold a festival everyone wants to check out. Then, who wasn’t going to want to see Jefferson Airplane as the sun rose? Nobody, man. Everyone could agree upon a shared love of Joan Baez and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Now, the internet has turned listening to music into a very solitary pastime. No one’s going to record stores anymore and getting face-time with other music fans. The thrill of the physical search for good music is gone, replaced by a glowing screen with a bed nearby. Kids scour blogs and music news sites to find hidden gems that will mould their personal taste into something worthy of bragging rights, creating something so individual and hand-picked it’s almost special (or, at least, people like to think so).
Americans today define themselves individually through their musical tastes instead of forming a collective identity with others. We’ve changed the way we consume music and have access to whatever we want immediately. Being first in line, knowing what’s cool before it’s cool, ups one’s status as a music-connoisseur.
But there was nothing singular about watching the Who play a 24-song set at 5am. Only solidarity.