Canceled Festivals: The Latest Trend in Music

posted by Maressa Levy on July 18, 2013

Photo: Kanrocksas 2011 byJarod Clarke

Trends in the music industry aren't uncommon - from experiential festivals to double weekend expansion and artist-curated events, it seems we are always on the upswing or tail end of a craze. In recent months, an unfortunate trend has emerged. Festivals are being canceled as quickly as they're being announced, as evidenced by JamBase Live, Moonrise, and Kanrocksas.

JamBase Live

The inaugural JamBase Live was scheduled for Fourth of July weekend at The Gorge, a Washington state venue best known as the home of Sasquatch!. JamBase and Live Nation announced the fest mid-March, with a freshman roster that included Slightly Stoopid, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Lettuce, and G. Love & Special Sauce. The festival was abruptly canceled without reason in late May, although the festival did claim to be "working with another awesome venue (much closer to Seattle) to host many of the bands originally slated to play at The Gorge Amphitheater July 5-6." Although the festivals website (still) asks festivalgoers to "keep July 5-6 open on your calendar as we expect to have a new announcement soon," it is unclear whether or not a subsequent event was scheduled for the weekend. While the initial roster was impressive and the ticket price was low - just $75 for a Weekend Pass plus $50 for camping - the venue is located about 150 miles from Seattle, which may have been a deterrent to potential festivalgoers.


Moonrise was scheduled for June 8-9 in Baltimore, the successor to the city's long-running Starscape Festival. After 14 years, Starscape's overnight event was canceled due to excessive drug overdoses and heat exhaustion in Baltimore's Fort Armistead Park. Last year, City Councilman Edward Reisinger stated the event had turned into a "drug party," adding that the city shouldn't be hosting a rave for out-of-town partiers. While festival promotors had a permit to allow 7,500 people on the 50-acre park, Starscape's 2012 edition topped off at 13,000. With only one access road in and out of the festival, it was difficult to get those suffering from overdoses and heat exhaustion off of the peninsula, forcing authorities to bring in a rescue boat.

Although Starscape's replacement festival, Moonrise, would have ended at 11pm, festival organizers canceled the event with just three weeks to go, claiming a mandatory permit failed to be approved. STS9, Pretty Lights, Flux Pavilion, Chuckie, The Crystal Method, and Datsik were among those slated to perform.


The inaugural Kanrocksas event was held in 2011 and included performances from Eminem, The Flaming Lips, Muse, Best Coast, and The Black Keys. Intended to be an annual event, construction projects on the festival grounds prevented a 2012 festival, while 2013's June 28-19 event was canceled due to insufficient ticket sales despite a lineup including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kendrick Lamar, fun., and MGMT.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kansas had a 5.7% unemployment rate as of May 2013 up from 5.5% in December 2012. While this is lower than the national average of 7.6%, Kanrocksas' tickets were pricey at $175 for a two-day pass. Omaha's Maha Music Festival is offering $30 discount tickets to anyone who forwards their Kanrocksas ticket purchase confirmation to Regularly-priced tickets to the festival cost $45, and the fest will include performances from The Flaming Lips, Matt & Kim, Bob Mould, and The Thermals. The roster is small, with just 13 acts on two stages over the course of the twelve-hour event, which will take place August 17 from noon to midnight.

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See Also:

Experiential Festivals Add New Elements to Festival Scene
All the Rage: Artist-Curated Festivals
Sasquatch! 2013: The Highs and Lows