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It is finished: Woodstock 50 goes up in smoke

Photo: Joe Traver (Getty Images)

Woodstock 50 is dead. As dead as the flower power of the ‘60s. As dead as nu-metal’s chokehold over 1999. As dead as Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock was at the box office.

Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang announced the 50th anniversary festival in January, promising better toilets and a lineup that included JAY-Z, Miley Cyrus, Chance The Rapper, and Santana. Controversy and confusion reared its head in April, and in June the festival lost both its Watkins Glen International venue and a key producer in CID Entertainment, and, despite Lang relocating the event to Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, reports began circulating that headliner JAY-Z was dropping out, which led to Cyrus, the Raconteurs, and other acts to bail. Variety confirms the event’s shuttering, which comes just two weeks before it was set to go down.

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“We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating,” Lang said in a press statement (via Stereogum).

The statement notes that the artists were still paid for the event, and encourages them to donate 10% to voting advocacy charity HeadCount or other charitable organization of their choice. Read it below.

When we lost the Glen and then Vernon Downs we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel. We formed a collaboration with HeadCount to do a smaller event at the Merriweather Pavilion to raise funds for them to get out the vote and for certain NGOs involved in fighting climate change. We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons. I would like to encourage artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10% of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace. Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election. We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity. My thoughts turn to Bethel and its celebration of our 50th Anniversary to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.