A History of Music Festivals, Part 6: The Nineties Scene – Utopik

A History of Music Festivals, Part 6: The Nineties Scene

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A downward spiral of festival attendance, especially in American pop festivals, was seen in the 1980’s.

The change in musical tastes was the cause, which festivals had to adapt to.

1983 US Festival

The US (pronounced like the pronoun) festival of 1983. Reportedly, it made a multi-million dollar loss.

Techno: Detroit to Berlin

A major influence for Europe’s rave culture was the music genres techno and acid house – which originated from Detroit and Chicago, respectively.

In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a large scene for techno music emerged that was never seen before.

Fall of Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall triggered a large-scale techno scene in Europe

Abandoned buildings were turned into temporary nightclubs, and organization of illegal techno parties became widespread in Berlin.

The popularity of electronic dance music soon spread to the rest of Europe.

Lollapalooza and Coachella

More mainstream festivals – which later became colossal events – also arose at the time.

Lollapalooza, now considered one of the top festivals in the world, was created in 1991 as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction.

Lollapalooza in 1991

Lollapalooza in 1991

Using the Reading Festival as a template, the first event centered on alternative rock, industrial music and rap.

Unlike single-venue festivals such as Woodstock, Lollapalooza would tour across the United States and Canada throughout the summer of '91.

Founded in 1999, the Coachella Festival in California is probably the largest and most famous festival of the present day.

Coachella Festival in 2014

Coachella Festival in 2014

Its origins can be traced to a 1993 Pearl Jam concert at the same site. Chosen because the band refused to play in Los Angeles, due to a dispute with Ticketmaster over their service charges.

By booking acts based on artistry rather than popularity, Coachella earned the title "the anti-Woodstock". A reference to Woodstock '99, which was held three months earlier – an attempt to emulate the original event.

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine played at Lollapalooza '92, Coachella '99 and Woodstock '99

The new millennium

At the turn of the millennium, rave and festival cultures began to merge.

Meaning that aspects of the rave scene – such as laser lights, artificial fog and costumes – were starting to be introduced into the more traditional festival.







Check out the final part: the integration of EDM into festivals

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