Festival season shaping up to be best ever

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The modern-day music festival was born in 1969 when two hippies from New York lost their financial shirts by putting on Woodstock. Though Woodstock ’69 was a disaster from a dollars-and-cents standpoint, it became crystal clear to promoters that the idea itself — packaging bands together for an all-day or all-weekend event — made good sense.

In today’s musical world, where concert goers have a wealth of choices, the festival format makes more sense than ever. It gives ticket holders a chance to get major bang per buck and, while the planning may take a bit more time for the promoter, it helps them as well since they can put their eggs all in one basket.

All of that aside, the festival format, at its core, is simply fun. It’s a chance to shed the every-day world and live for a day or a weekend in a musical utopia with anywhere from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand like-minded musical freaks.

One of the best parts about a festival is the music it can expose listeners to. While you may choose to attend based on a headlining act, the “filler” sets from up-and-coming acts can be highlights as bands transform from simply a name on the list to tangible success stories.

In recent years many festivals have taken on the format of industry conference and festival. It’s another smart move, as it gives industry personnel an excuse to attend (“I have to speak on the such and such panel”) and it helps create buzz. When someone in the office of a music magazine or publicity firm makes plans to head to a festival, that word of mouth is golden. Plus having those auto-responses on your e-mail while you are there lets everyone know you’re having a good time while they’re working.

Whether you’re in the industry or not, those conferences can be almost as interesting as the bands themselves. Conferences also give artists the chance to interact with industry decision makers.

While last year’s festival guide looked at events all over the country and even the world, this year’s guide is a bitmore focused, highlighting festivals within a day’s drive of Denver. Most of these are in our backyard, but a few will necessitate a coffee-infused cruise for 12 hours or more.

Note: All travel times and distances are calculated from Denver, using mapquest.com. Price is marked by a dollar sign ($) with $ being a free or inexpensive ticket and $$$$$ being the most expensive.

We hope you enjoy, and we’ll see you at the festivals.

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