Here's Hoping Festival Season Doesn't Ruin Outkast For Us All
These are acts that appeared on many major music festival lineups in 2013: Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Vampire Weekend, Jurassic 5, the National, Grizzly Bear, and Nine Inch Nails (among others).
Christopher Victorio "Well if you don't see us at Coachella, then you can see us Sasquatch. And if you don't see us at Sasquatch then you can see us at Lollapalooza... Or Outside Lands... Or Austin City Limits."
So maybe you can see how the top lines of these festival lineups all start to look very similar after a while. They're usually chosen from a handful of "top-tier" acts touring in a given year, artists with broad appeal that will help sell tens of thousands of $250 festival passes. That's just the way the big festival business works -- but it does get dull. And this dullness resulting from endless performance is what we're worried about after Outkast yesterday announced that it will be playing no fewer than 40 festivals around the world in the spring and summer of 2014.
It's cool that the group is returning, of course, and we hope Outkast plays Outside Lands out of pure selfishness. But a certain kind of ennui sets in when the major festivals (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch, and Outside Lands, for our purposes) all have more or less the same headliners, which they often do. Festival season becomes more like a traveling Coachella (or whatever subset of Coachella the other festivals' promoters can manage) than a unique event. You have to squint to see what makes each festival different, besides the weather and the sleeping options. And they tend to quickly wear out the novelty of their headliners, who play similar sets at each event.
Right now, any Outkast sounds amazing, and we'll take all we can get. But imagine how we'll feel in August, at the tail end of the warm-months slog, after Outkast makes a "surprise" appearance at South by Southwest (just guessing), after Outkast saturates the global media with two weekend sets at Coachella, then Governor's Ball, then plays dozens more shows for hundreds of thousands of people at festivals all around the country. It'll be great! But only for a while. Chances are, we will -- even if we only barely admit it to ourselves -- be kinda, sorta, maybe even more than a little bit burned out on Outkast by the end of festival season this year, simply due to the requisite saturation of the whole thing. We hope it doesn't happen, of course. But if the modern music industry machinery succeeds at one thing, it's taking something you've wanted really badly for a long time, and finally giving you so much of it that you only want something else. Think back to how you felt about Justin Timberlake the musician in January of 2013, for instance. Then consider how you feel about Justin Timberlake the musician presently, only a year later. Outkast and Justin Timberlake are of course very different. But you see how this works, right?