We’v seen it all here in Florida. Drivers routinely go the wrong way on the interstates. Alligators chomp golfers. Some activities are admittedly more dangerous than others. Take the case of the latest Florida man. Deputies in the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office say cited a driver earlier this week after they observed him driving on a sidewalk. Police responded after they recieved an email from a concerned citizen who attached a short video of a dark sedan being driven down a sidewalk. Further investigation found that the car had been seen on the sidewalk on several occasions recently. I don’t think I have to tell you how dangerous it is to drive a car on a sidewalk, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Don’t drive a car on a sideWALK! There are pedestrians over there! There are babies in strollers over there! During the investigation, deputies said the man admitted to driving on the sidewalks often to avoid congestion during rush hour. Once a deputy was sent to the scene, it didnt take long to catch a driver in the act. The officer saw the driver at 7 a.m. the following morning. The deputy said the man quickly jumped back into traffic once he saw the officer. It was too late, however. For the record, it’s illegal to drive on a sidewalk. Sarasota Sheriff’s Deputies thanked the citizen for brnging the incident to their attention. Source: ClickOrlando.com
U2’s Best Ranked
U2: Their 50 Best Songs, Ranked
A standout on U2’s 11th studio album, “City of Blinding Lights” won the Grammy for Best Rock Song in 2006 and was used by President Barack Obama during campaign events during the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections. U2 would perform the song during President Obama’s inaugural concert at the Lincoln memorial in 2009.
U2 was gradually evolving their sound on their third studio album, ‘War,’ but their punk influences were still evident, especially on “Two Hearts Beat As One.” The track was the band’s second single off the album released between “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
Bono wrote “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” as a tribute to INXS singer Michael Hutchence, who died by suicide in 1997. In a 2005 interview with ‘Rolling Stone,’ Bono said of his relationship with Hutchence, “I felt I had let Michael down because I was lost to my own busyness and hadn’t called as much as I would have liked...He would confide in me and I in him. We were really great friends. In Cannes we’d go out and we wouldn’t come home, we’d just sleep on the beach, having a laugh.”
A touching song about finding joy in love despite being surrounded by obstacles, “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way” is a nice reminder that U2 still remain conscious of matters of the heart even on their 14th studio album.
Bono is well aware of the criticisms against him, and he seemed to lean into those criticisms on the lyrics of “All Because of You” namely in the second verse with, “I like the sound of my own voice/I didn't give anyone else a choice.” Perhaps he didn’t, but he’s at least self-aware enough to admit to it.
You wouldn’t think a song about Bono’s mom dying when he was 14 could be this danceable, but U2 made it happen on “Mofo” with one hell of a synth track alongside Larry Mullen Jr’s drums.
The second single from ‘No Line On the Horizon,’ “Magnificent” should’ve been the lead single instead of “Get On Your Boots,” which most agree is one of the worst singles U2 has ever released. “Magnificent” is a far better representation of U2’s 12th studio album. Fun fact: It’s working title was “French Disco,” which really is an accurate description of its sound.
If you want to get technical, “Miss Sarajevo” isn’t a U2 song; it’s a song from Passengers, a group made up of U2 and Brian Eno, but it’s too stunning not to include. The song was inspired by a beauty pageant held in Sarajevo during the Bosninan War in the 1990s. Famed opera singer Luciano Pavarotti sang on the track, which was performed live for the first time at the “Pavarotti and Friends” concert in 1995.
Inspired by Psalm 40 in the Bible, “40” remains one of U2’s most memorable live songs in their entire catalog. The song was famously used to close out the band’s set and saw each member of the band exit the stand one-by-one all while fans continued to sing on repeat, “How long to sing this song?” One word: Chills!
How much of a creative roll were U2 on in the early ‘90s? Even their b-sides were incredible! “Salome” is a great example of this. (Spoiler: Another b-side circa ‘Achtung Baby’ shows up later.) An unbelievably catchy pop-rock tune, ‘Rolling Stone’ wrote in a list titled “20 Insanely Great U2 Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know” that Robert Plant once said “Salome” was his favorite U2 song. If Plant digs it, there’s a good chance you will, too.
U2 joined forces with Green Day to cover this Skids tune in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was a perfect marriage of two bands with punk roots and remains one of U2’s standout tracks of the aughts. They would perform the song together before the first home game the New Orleans Saints played in the Superdome following the devastating hurricane. If you feel like giving yourself goosebumps, track down the performance on YouTube.
Released as a single from U2’s second greatest hits compilation, “Electrical Storm” is a tale of a couple at odds and the hope their rift will soon pass (“If the sky can crack there must be some way back/For love and only love.”) The song was accompanied by a stunning music video directed by frequent U2 collaborator Anton Corbijn and stars actress Samantha Morton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. as the song’s subjects. The video is one of the band’s most sensual and is a nice reminder that Larry is quite hot. Seriously, watch the video with a cigarette. You’ll thank me later.
‘Pop’ saw U2 fall further down the rabbit hole of electronic music, but some of the best songs on the album are where the band find balance between electronic and pop/rock genres. “Staring at the Sun” is a great example of this, and it still remains one of the most underrated singles the band has ever released.
A tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, who was integral to bringing democracy to Myanmar and is currently the State Counsellor of the country, “Walk On” took on new meaning following the September 11th attacks in the United States and became a poignant anthem for a country reeling from an unprecedented act of terrorism.
If anyone questioned whether U2 could still write a banger that could move stadiums after being a band for four decades, “The Blackout” put those doubts to rest. In a liner notes video for ‘Songs of Experience,’ Bono says of the song, “It’s a letter to the moment we’re in, where personal and political apocalypse combine. Not just the rock behemoths slaughtered by time but the dinosaur of democracy facing extinction...I don’t think it’s far fetched. Democracy, after all, is a mere blip in history. It’s an aspiration seized by bloody revolutions. It’s a bloody messy business.”
In theory, Johnny Cash singing over an electronic beat shouldn’t work, but on “The Wanderer” it just does. Closing out ‘Zooropa,’ The Man in Black’s voice is the perfect tone to tell a story about someone walking around a post-apocalyptic landscape. Bono provides some beautiful harmonizing toward the end of the tune, but a tale this grave needs to be sung by someone that has lived through some stuff. Cash was 61 at the time of this recording, and he just had far more gravitas than a then 33-year-old Bono, which is probably why the U2 vocalist wrote the lyrics with Cash in mind.
Originally a b-side for “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “The Sweetest Thing” was re-recorded for U2’s first greatest hits compilation and released as a single. Bono wrote it for his wife, Ali, after he missed her birthday due to being at the studio recording ‘The Joshua Tree.’ The song’s music video features Bono and Ali going on a carriage ride while Bono elaborately apologizes to his wife via a marching band, a step-dancing troupe, gyrating firefighters and much more. Honestly, the whole ordeal is the sweetest thing.
One of U2’s most popular b-sides, it’s kind of remarkable “Lady With The Spinning Head” was somehow left off ‘Achtung Baby’ or wasn’t saved to be included on ‘Zooropa.’ The song was an early track in the making of ‘Achtung Baby’ and would go on to influence a number of songs on the album, most notably “The Fly.” It should be noted “Lady With The Spinning Head” features one of Edge’s coolest solos and hookiest hooks ever with that chorus. Just one listen, and it’ll likely get stuck in your head for a few hours at the minimum.
While “Dirty Day” isn’t about Bono’s relationship with his father, the song certainly was influenced by the man. Bono said in the 2006 book ‘U2 by U2,’ “‘Dirty Day’ is a father and son song. ‘It’s a dirty day,’ was an expression my dad would use and there is a lot of him in there but it was also influenced by Charles Bukowski, the great American writer and drinker...The song is about a character who has walked out on his family and, years later, meets the son he’s abandoned. So it’s not about my father but I used some of my dad’s attitude.” One listen to “Dirty Day,” and you’ll be thankful for the attitude of Bob Hewson.
“I was there when they crucified my Lord/I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword/I threw the dice when they pierced his side/But I've seen love conquer the great divide.” Religion is a common theme in the U2 catalog, and it is ever present on this gem, which features the late, great B.B. King and was recorded in the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis.
It’s impossible to talk about “The Fly” and not bring up Bono’s quote referring to the song as “the sound of four men chopping down ‘The Joshua Tree’." Truth be told, he wasn’t wrong. Released as the first single from ‘Achtung Baby,’ “The Fly” was a complete 180 compared to the songs of ‘The Joshua Tree’ and ‘Rattle and Hum,’ and it set the stage for what was to come from U2 both in the studio and on the road with the Zoo TV Tour.
Bono wrote the lyrics for “Out of Control” when he was 18 years old reflecting on the two things you have no control over in your life: when you are born and when you die. Heady stuff to think about when you’re still very young, but it offered a look at the subject matter of what would soon come from U2 decades down the line.
“Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” was written by Bono while his father, Bob Hewson, was dying from cancer. It’s one of the most personal and heartbreaking songs Bono has ever written, which is really saying something, but it’s hard to disagree when you’re faced with lyrics like, “You don't have to put up a fight/You don't have to always be right/Let me take some of the punches/For you tonight.”
It’s a love song, but it has grit, which makes it right at home on ‘Achtung Baby’ despite it lacking some of the alternative influences found on the rest of the album. Oddly enough, both the band and producer Steve Lillywhite aren’t super-fond of the tune. Good thing that many fans disagree.
Closing out ‘Rattle and Hum’ (both the album and film), “All I Want Is You” is another song whose lyrics were penned by Bono about his wife, Ali. (Swoon, right?!) The song would get a second life when it was included in the 1994 film ‘Reality Bites’ starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. (Double swoon!)
“Bullet the Blue Sky” represents U2 at perhaps their most caustic. The song’s lyrics were inspired by a trip Bono and his wife, Ali, took to Central America, where U.S. foreign policy led to mass unrest. The song’s lyrics took aim at President Ronald Reagan. (“Suit and tie comes up to me/His face red like a rose on a thorn bush/Like all the colours of a royal flush/And he's peelin' off those dollar bills/Slappin' 'em down/One hundred, two hundred.”) Since its release, “Bullet the Blue Sky” has become a setlist mainstay and one of the highlights of nearly every U2 performance.
Inspired by the U.K.’s National Union of Mineworkers strike in 1984, “Red Hill Mining Town” is a soaring tune that seemed arena-ready upon its release. Oddly enough, the song was never played live until U2 embarked on their 2017 tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of ‘The Joshua Tree.’
“Love Is Blindness” closes out ‘Achtung Baby,’ and it does so in remarkably moody fashion. The Edge’s playing on this track is some of his most dark, which makes sense on account of him going through a separation with his first wife. Not saying pain and struggle brings out the best creatively, but, in this case, it definitely didn’t hurt.
While the original version on ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ is great, the version of “Elevation” on the ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ soundtrack, which features a significantly harder rock edge to it, is the superior cut. Speaking of “edge,” The Edge is basically the star of the song’s music video which finds the guitarist captured by “Evil U2” and is superimposed into the ‘Tomb Raider’ film sharing many scenes with Angelina Jolie. Yes, U2 is a serious band, but they can also be seriously funny, too.
Let’s just be blunt: “Until the End of the World” is the coolest song about Judas singing to Jesus ever. Sure, it might be the only song about Judas singing to Jesus, but you really don’t need any others when you have “Until the End of the World.” Edge’s bouncy, infectious riff takes this song to another level as does the killer rhythm track from Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.
One of U2’s most achingly beautiful odes to love, “Ultra Violet (Light My Way)” was given a new feminist meaning on the recent ‘Joshua Tree’ tours that honored the album’s 30th anniversary. During the performance of the song, images of iconic women, from historical political figures to entertainers to activists, were shown on the large screen of the band’s stage setup. It provided for a very moving moment to a set that already included U2 performing ‘The Joshua Tree’ in its entirety.
“Please” is a protest song of sorts about religion, and it’s one of U2’s most moving tracks in their entire catalog. Bono said in a ‘Rolling Stone’ interview in 2001, “It’s essentially about fundamentalism, political or religious. Religious fundamentalism is where you get to shrink God; you remake God in your own image, as opposed to the other way around. It gave me a bit of a fright.”
The heroin epidemic that hit Dublin in the 1980s had a massive effect on U2, and sadly, it inspired some of their best songs. Among them is “Running to Stand Still.” While it wasn’t one of the five songs from ‘The Joshua Tree’ released as a single, it certainly was strong enough to be one.
Apocalyptic? Yes. Decadent? For sure. “Last Night on Earth” is one of U2’s best straight-forward rock songs in their catalog, and it just doesn’t get enough attention. Go listen to it right now if you haven’t done so in a while. You won’t regret it.
A dizzying ode to being a rock star, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was the lead single off of the ‘Batman Forever’ soundtrack, which also featured Seal’s smash single “Kiss from a Rose.” Easily the cheekiest lyrics from U2 (or at least the most in one song), Bono gets bonus points for rhyming “tricks” with “crucifix.” What a star!
The fourth single from ‘Achtung Baby,’ “Even Better Than The Real Thing” might just be U2’s sexiest song ever. Of course, that all depends on what you’re into. (To that end, no judgement. We’re all God’s children. It’s fine!) Anyway, if you don’t find it to be sexy, it certainly is playful. (“You're honey child to a swarm of bees/Gonna blow right through ya like a breeze.”) U2 as a playful band was certainly a new concept, and it was certainly a welcome one.
One of the songs U2 recorded at Sun Studio for ‘Rattle and Hum,’ “Angel of Harlem” paid tribute to Billie Holiday, which could be why Bono really delivered on the vocals. It’s one of his strongest, most-memorable vocal performances in the U2 catalog. Just try and not feel a tingle up and down your spine when he belts, “She says it's heart, heart and soul/Yeah yeah!”
“Mysterious Ways” is U2 at their most exotic and spiritual, while also being romantically evocative. (“To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal/If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel/On your knees, boy!”) The fact that it has the hallmarks of a “Bandstand” hit (i.e. it has a good beat and you can dance to it) doesn’t hurt matters either.
Bono references his mother, whom he lost when he was only 14, on a number of U2 songs, but “I Will Follow” is the best. Bono said of the song in a 1987 interview with ‘Rolling Stone,’ “It’s a little sketch about that unconditional love a mother has for a child: ‘If you walk away, walk away I will follow,’ and ‘I was on the outside when you said you needed me/I was looking at myself I was blind I could not see.’ It’s a really chronic lyric.”
“Under a blood red sky/A crowd has gathered in black and white/Arms entwined, the chosen few/The newspaper says, says/Say it's true, it's true.../And we can break through/Though torn in two/We can be one.” “New Year’s Day” set the tone as the lead single off of U2’s third studio album ‘War.’ Really, one could say it set the tone for the rest of the band’s output of the 1980s. With “New Year’s Day,” U2 started to break through internationally, and in a few short years, they’d become the biggest band in the world.
While it was featured on ‘Zooropa,’ “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” was also written for the Wim Wenders film Faraway, So Close! Upon its release, it became one of U2’s most lush ballads in their catalog, and it remains that way nearly three decades after it’s release.
Paging Bo Diddley…”Desire” was the lead single off of ‘Rattle and Hum,’ and it brings an incredible jolt of energy with every listen. The song would net U2 a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1988.
“With or Without You” was the lead single off of ‘The Joshua Tree,’ and it set the table for the moment U2 was about to have with their fifth studio album. It became the band’s first single to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remains one of the most enduring love songs of all time.
Imagine losing nearly everything but you’re still able to take stock in what you have left. It’s an overwhelming concept, for sure, but leave it to U2 to approach an idea like that and turn it into a massive, arena-rocking hit. “Beautiful Day” netted the band Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2001. More importantly, “Beautiful Day” served as a sort of reset for the band as they entered the new millennium following their electronic-influenced ‘90s decade. They were back to basics, in a way, but they were still U2.
The second single from ‘The Joshua Tree,’ “I Still Haven’t found What I’m Looking For” blends elements of pop, rock and gospel that are beyond uplifting. For an album that reflected U2’s journey into America, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is perhaps the most-uniquely American song on the album.
A moving tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., “Pride (In The Name of Love)” became U2’s first song to crack the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 33. “Pride (In The Name of Love)” has the distinct honor of being the song U2 has performed the most live. (A whopping 1,022 times, according to Setlist.fm.)
While the studio version off ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ is incredible, the live version of “Bad” from U2’s breakout performance at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium is simply iconic. The performance not only established U2 as one of the best live acts in music, but it showed off the band’s unique ability to turn a massive venue into an intimate setting. While Bono lept from the Live Aid stage and slow danced with just one very lucky concertgoer, it somehow felt like he was holding all of us. The song’s themes touch on the horrendous battles of heroin addiction which grew to epidemic proportions in Dublin in the 1980s. Sadly, it’s lyrics (“If I could, yes I would/If I could, I would/Let it go”) still resonate today.
With a drum intro you can feel in your gut, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was U2’s breakthrough hit in the United States. Inspired by the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” remains not just one of U2’s best songs but one of the finest protest songs in music history. Its conscience still resonates live decades after its release.
Some may view “One” not topping this list as a controversial choice considering its lore. U2 famously wrote “One” when they were on the brink of breaking up. Following the crazy success of ‘The Joshua Tree,’ U2 convened to record what would become ‘Achtung Baby,’ and to put it lightly, things were just not working out. And then, they wrote “One,” and the rest is history. It’s one of those songs most bands dream of writing, and everyone on the track is truly at their best.
U2 is a band that makes you want more and inspires you to dream bigger. They make you feel like nothing is out of reach, and “Where the Streets Have No Name” is the best example of that. What can you say about a song so magical, whose longing is felt for the entirety of its 5:36 runtime, including an intro that just builds and builds only to culminate in Bono exclaiming “I wanna run”? What can you say about The Edge’s undeniable and transcending guitar playing? What can you say about Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. laying down a rhythm track that you can feel pulse through your body? You can say that all of these pieces add up to the quintessential U2 song. At the end of this list, it’s all I can do.
The OTHER Woodstock
Woodstock 50: A Timeline of Peace, Love & Disorganization
In an interview with 'Rolling Stone' during the festival's 45th anniversary year, Lang said, "I think we’re certainly done until the 50th. We’re starting to think about it now."
In an interview with the 'Poughkeepsie Journal,' Lang reveals a 50th anniversary celebration of Woodstock was "underway with potential partners and different locations are being explored." At the time, an overseas festival celebration was also being pitched as well as potentially turning Woodstock into an annual festival similar to Coachella, Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo.
Santana tells Billboard's Gary Graff in June 2017 that a 50th annversary of Woodstock is "...two years from now. We talked to Michael Lang last time we were in Madison Square Garden and he came over to visit...It's a positive thing. Looking forward to getting together with Michael and sculpturing what kind of an event are we going to have. He would tell Graff in December 2018, "We've talked to Michael Lang, but we don't know if he has secured a place. If they invite me, I'm in."
Lang also tells 'Rolling Stone' the festival, now officially dubbed Woodstock 50, will be taking place in Watkins Glen, N.Y. adding, "It’ll be an eclectic bill. It’ll be hip-hop and rock and some pop and some of the legacy bands from the original festival." Lang also hinted at the time Woodstock 50 would try and help change the legacy of Woodstock after the debacle that was Woodstock '99. "Woodstock ’99 was just a musical experience with no social significance,” said Lang. “It was just a big party. With this one, we’re going back to our roots and our original intent. And this time around, we’ll have control of everything." Lang added, "Woodstock ’94 was a nice mix of young and old and that’s kind of what we’re going for here."
In an interview with 'Billboard,' Lang said Woodstock 50 would feature artists that are “heavily involved in social issues” and feature various non-government organizations, including HeadCount, Global Citizen and Conservation International, onsite to encourage festival-goers in various activism efforts. Oh...and he was also working with Southern California dispensary operator MedMed in developing a “signature cannabis strain,” because #Priorities.
'Billboard' reports Santana, Dead & Company, The Killers, Imagine Dragons and Chance The Rapper are all booked for Woodstock 50, however, sources told the outlet that some artists booked had not been paid in full yet. A rep would later confirm that all artists on the bill were paid in full on March 4.
Following the initial report from 'Billboard,' 'Variety' unveils a lengthy list of artists booked from Woodstock 50 including Robert Plant, The Black Keys, The Raconteurs, Greta Van Fleet, Jay-Z, Run the Jewels, Gary Clark Jr., Cage the Elephant, Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Portugal the Man, Dawes, the Lumineers, Bishop Briggs, Pussy Riot, Courtney Barnett, Dorothy, Halsey, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae and Kacey Musgraves.
Woodstock 50's social media accounts blast the festival poster containing its entire lineup. It is also announced that tickets would go on sale April 22.
Lost in a lot of the drama was the early exit of The Black Keys. The following statement was released regarding their exit: "Due to a scheduling conflict, The Black Keys will unfortunately need to cancel their set at Woodstock. The band wants to let fans know as soon as possible and before tickets go on sale."
'Pitchfork' reports organizers had yet to secure a mass gathering permit from the New York State Department of Health for the Watkins Glen International Speedway. Cancelation rumors started to circulate at this time, but Michael Lang would later tell 'Billboard,' "Woodstock is a phenomenon that for fifty years has drawn attention to its principles and also the rumors that can be attached to that attention." He then called the cancelation buzz "just more rumors."
In a statement to 'Billboard,' main investor Dentsu Aegis Network announced they pulled their funding and canceled the festival. Dentsu issued a lengthy statement that included, "...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 difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved." Woodstock 50 organizers would then tell the 'Poughkeepsie Journal' shortly after Dentsu's announcement that, "Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the festival's cancellation and legal remedy will (be) sought...Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will of course be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners. We would like to acknowledge the State of New York and Schuyler County for all of their hard work and support. The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it's going to be a blast.
In an email, Lang said, "It seems in a way that history is repeating itself. In July of 1969 we lost our site in Walkill and with only a month to go we managed to move to Bethel. Woodstock was going to happen no matter what!" He continued, "Yesterday, our financial partner, Dentsu-Aegis, made the decision to pull out and informed us that they were cancelling the festival at the same time they let the press release go public. We have yet to understand why they would try to prevent the festival from happening by seemingly undermining us in this way. It is one thing to decide for oneself that it is best to move on, but it is entirely another thing to try and close the door on us. Yesterday, I couldn’t help but relive that moment 50 years ago – it was “ déjà vu all over again”!...Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have a right to cancel it."
Fogerty, who was booked for Woodstock 50 and performed at the original Woodstock, told 'Rolling Stone,' "I wouldn’t want to speculate. I’m just a guy who plays guitar and is ready to show up. It’s not my job to know about the selection of artists or permits. But it’s a shame." Fogerty would go on to comment on the festival not get the necessary permit by saying, "That just blew my mind. You’d think it would be the first thing you’d do and not the last thing. You got the sense there was some shakiness to this whole thing. But the first Woodstock happened more by people wishing for it to happen than any effort of great organization.”
'Billboard' reports that all artists on the Woodstock 50 bill were contracted through Dentsu Aegis, not with Woodstock 50 or Lang. After Dentsu Aegis announced the festival was canceled, that means all artists booked were released from their contracts are no longer obligated to perform. In a new interview with The New York Times, Lang said that they're "days away" from obtaining all of the necessary permits, and they're in talks with new investors and have potential sponsors. As for why Dentsu Aegis pulled their funding suddenly and whether he and other organizers knew of their plans, Lang said, "We really didn’t. The surprising thing was that they didn’t give us a heads up, or call, or say, 'We’d like to back away, can you replace us?' It was just a surprise. It’s mind-boggling, in fact."
Lang sent Dentsu Aegis a five-page letter obtained by 'Rolling Stone' claiming they “illegally swept approximately $17 million from the festival bank account, leaving [Woodstock] in peril.” Lang also wrote he was initially concerned with partnering with Dentsu, because, “Corporations are not always the right match for certain creative endeavors, but I learned that Dentsu has pursued various social initiatives after certain tragedies and scandals that Dentsu faced which gave me confidence that your company would be an ethical and honorable firm to partner with." After the Japanese investment company announced the cancelation of the festival and allegedly discovering they took $17 million, Lang wrote this "...confirmed my worst concerns about partnering with your company. These actions are neither a legal nor honorable way to do business,” and that Dentsu, "...directly contacted all stakeholders, including the venue Watkins Glen International, insurance companies, producers, vendors and performers (some of whom I am lucky to count as personal friends) and suggested they not do business with me, and violate their contracts with my company." Lang also alleges in the letter that Dentsu told booked talent to not play the festival after their cancelation announcement and instead "appeal for a spot during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo," where Dentsu's headquarters is located. Lang's letter also suggests that even though Woodstock 50 hadn't officially secured the necessary permits for the festival, the state of New York still "granted conditional approval...to proceed with ticket sales," but he says that Densu "blocked this sale for no apparent reason."
Woodstock 50 organizers netted a big win from a judge on the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruling that former investors, Dentsu, had no right to cancel the festival. The festival's official Twitter shared the following: "Judge rules Woodstock 50 Festival may go ahead as planned! Dentsu Aegis had no right to cancel the Festival. Michael Lang thanked all the Artists and representatives for their support and looks forward to an amazing and inspiring Festival in August." In his own statement per 'Variety,' Michael Lang said, "We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the Festival would take place. I would like to thank all of the talent and their representatives for their patience and support. Woodstock 50 will be an amazing and inspiring festival experience." However, it wasn't all peace, love and victory for Woodstock 50. 'Variety' also noted that, "Judge Barry Ostrager declined to order Dentsu to return the $17.8 million Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang had alleged Amplifi [a subsidiary of Dentsu] 'siphoned' from the festival bank account, leaving Woodstock 50 with still more financial ground to make up if the event is to continue."
'Rolling Stone' reported New York-based investment bank and financial services company Oppenheimer & Co. stepped in to provide some much-needed funding for Woodstock 50. Oppenheimer & Co.'s head of Debt Capital Markets & Syndication John Tonelli said in a statement, "We are thrilled to be onboard for this incredible weekend of music and social engagement. We believe in Woodstock as an important American cultural icon and look forward to its regeneration in the green fields of Watkins Glen this August with all of the artists on the remarkable lineup." Despite this news, Woodstock 50 still hadn't put tickets on sale and hadn't secured all of the necessary permits from the State of New York for their location at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Per 'Rolling Stone,' Watkins Glen International pulled out of its contract with the festival, with a rep for the racetrack saying in a statement, "Watkins Glen International terminated the site license for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival." Woodstock 50 said in a statement, "We confirm that we will not be moving forward with Watkins Glen as a venue for Woodstock 50. We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on August 16th - 18th and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks." Following the venue loss news, Woodstock 50 event producer CID Entertainment told 'Billboard,' "CID Entertainment had been engaged to provide enhanced camping, travel packages and transportation for Woodstock 50. Given developments, we can confirm that CID is no longer involved in Woodstock 50 in any capacity." CID Entertainment originally replaced Superfly as a producer of the event, who had backed out after original financial partner Dentsu pulled their funding.
'The Poughkeepsie Journal' reports organizers applied for permits for Vernon Downs, a racino (a hotel/harness horse racing track) in Oneida County, New York. The venue holds significantly fewer people - about 45,000-50,000 - than the original site of Watkins Glen International, which estimated around 70,000 capacity. Vernon Downs doesn't have grounds for on-site camping. There are two campground locations nearby, but attendees would need to take shuttle buses to Vernon Downs.
'Billboard' reports a variety of representation, from managers to publicists to agents, have not received any new updates on the venue from organizers Michael Lang and Greg Peck. The new proposed venue, Vernon Downs, is about two hours away from the festival's original venue, Watkins Glen International. Artists and their management will need to adjust travel plans for personnel and equipment, especially if any of the acts on the bill are currently on tour and the Woodstock 50 set was scheduled between tour dates. Rumors of artists potentially pulling out at this time really began swirling, with a source telling 'Billboard,' "Each artist will have to make a decision about whether this is something they want to take on now that so much has changed. Often, the artist will feel compelled to play because they don't want to disappoint their fans, but in the case of Woodstock 50, no one has bought tickets yet, so there's not really anyone to disappoint."
Multiple sources, including 'The Poughkeepsie Journal,' 'Variety' and Syracuse.com, report the town of Vernon denied the application for the anniversary festival to take place at local venue Vernon Downs. Townspeople were concerned about hosting the festival. Vernon town attorney Vincent Rossi said, "Each application submitted, one for each of the three days, was one page long with no supporting materials." Oneida County emergency management director Kevin Revere, meanwhile, said, "Any emergency management director will say there isn’t enough time to do this properly.” Rumors of artists potentially pulling out at this time really began swirling, with a source telling 'Billboard,' "Each artist will have to make a decision about whether this is something they want to take on now that so much has changed. Often, the artist will feel compelled to play because they don't want to disappoint their fans, but in the case of Woodstock 50, no one has bought tickets yet, so there's not really anyone to disappoint."
Woodstock 50's social media channels blasts the following message to followers: "Will the Town of Vernon allow peace, love & music to prevail so we can celebrate Woodstock 50 with you? Upon permit approval we’ll announce our ticket on sale. Please share to show your support." An accompanying graphic contains the message, "Dear Town of Vernon, Woodstock is committed to bringing peace, love and music to The Downs. Will you all let peace, love and music prevail August 16th-18th? With love, Woodstock 50."
'Bloomberg' reports Woodstock 50 will now take place in Columbia, Maryland at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which will hold about 32,000 people. The new venue is about 250 miles from its first announced location in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Tickets have yet to go on sale, but 'Bloomberg' reports passes will cost from $129 to $595.
In a statement to 'Variety,' Fogerty's reps said, "John Fogerty knows where he will be for the anniversary weekend of Woodstock. At only one site… at the original one – the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. As he says in his song ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain,’ written upon returning from Woodstock – "NO MORE CONFUSION ON THE GROUND."
'Rolling Stone' reports that Jay Z and Dead & Company have pulled out of Woodstock 50 after the venue change announcement. Woodstock 50 then formally released artists from their original contracts, thus, not making them obligated to perform at the festival, even though most artists have already been paid. 'Billboard' reports that since artists were originally contracted to perform in Watkins Glen, N.Y., the new venue change to Columbia, Maryland's Merriweather Post Pavillion would be a breach of contract, since the new venue is about 350 miles south from the original festival site.
Six artists publicly drop out of Woodstock 50 including Santana, The Raconteurs, Miley Cyrus, Lumineers, Country Joe McDonald, John Sebastian
After months of various issues, Woodstock 50 finally called off the anniversary festival and informed vendors and stakeholders the event was off.
They saw the man driving on the sidewalk…