Wilco乐队的粉丝将在本月月底齐聚马萨诸塞州西部参加自创的Solid Sound 音乐节。届时，在现场乐队卡拉ok大赛中胜出的少数幸运观众将在音乐节的首夜与这支芝加哥独立摇滚乐队同台演唱。
这是Wilco乐队与其粉丝在音乐节互动的最新案例，这一举措始于2010年，最初是在现代艺术博物馆Mass MoCA举办，这家博物馆坐落于马萨诸塞州北亚当斯，占地13英亩，是一个经翻修的工厂建筑综合体。在上一届Solid Sound，也就是2017年，拥趸们围绕自己最希望听到Wilco乐队现场完整演唱的专辑进行了在线投票。2013年，粉丝们提出了最希望乐队翻唱的歌曲，然后歌单上就出现了 Grateful Dead、Daft Punk和Abba的作品。今年，乐队成员首次轮流上阵“深水炸弹”游戏，等待参加节日的观众通过高超的投球技能，让他们跌入装满冷水的大桶中。
近些年来，很多音乐节已开始提供经这类精心策划的体验。自2011年以来，佛蒙特州的摇滚乐队Grace Potter & the Nocturnals每年夏季都会在伯灵顿举办Grand Point North音乐节。2015年，Bon Iver与National的成员在威斯康辛州欧克莱尔打造了Eaux Claires音乐节。美国双人组合Shovels & Rope已经在南卡州北查尔斯顿举办了三次自创的High Water音乐节。独立摇滚乐队Decemberists在蒙大拿州米苏拉的自创音乐节已经举办了两年，名为 Travelers Rest。去年，重金属乐队Deftones在圣迭戈举行了为期一天的音乐节 Día de los Deftones。4月，饶舌歌手法瑞尔·威廉姆斯在弗吉尼亚州弗吉尼亚海滩举行了Something in the Water音乐节。R&B歌手H.E.R.在上周宣布将于9月在加州康科德举行为期一天的音乐节。
亚历克斯·克拉泽斯说：“节日市场出现的大幅增长源于那些规模较小的精品节日，尤其是那些创意异常鲜明的节日。”克拉泽斯的公司Higher Ground Presents为Solid Sound、Grand Point North和五个其他艺人策划节日预订了表演艺人。
克拉泽斯指出，拥有鲜明的创意对于知名节日来说要难的多。超大型节日，例如得克萨斯州的奥斯汀城市极限音乐节、田纳西州的波纳若音乐节、加州的柯契拉音乐节或芝加哥的洛拉帕罗扎音乐节每日的客流量能够达到7.5万人（事实上，低于这个数字举办方就得亏钱）。吸引如此多的观众需要预定众多表演艺人，以迎合不同的音乐口味。作为对比，今年的High Water音乐节吸引了约1万人，其曲目以及根据当地美食制作的餐饮活动反映了Shovels & Rope的美学理念。
安迪·费尔德和阿什利·帕斯可也参加了这些活动。过去三年期间，这对夫妇参加了一些大型音乐节，例如阿拉巴马的Hangout Music Festival、纽约的Brooklyn音乐节，但他们更喜欢今年在High Water的曲目。他们只花了Hangout普通门票的钱就买到了High Water的VIP门票，而且整个周末的活动都给他们留下了深刻的印象。38岁的费尔德说：“它完全是一个周到的感官体验。哪怕只是为了体验美食而参加这些活动也是值得的。场景布置美轮美奂，位于一座不再服役的老旧海军设施中，整个活动显得异常丰满。”
35岁的杰西卡·莉莉安今年也参加了High Water音乐节。这位康涅狄格州的居民一直以来都更喜欢小规模音乐节，包括Solid Sound，因为她此前曾经在奥斯汀城市极限音乐节遭遇过酷暑和人潮这些不愉快的经历。High Water的双重福利在于，音乐节不仅有她喜爱的艺人，其举办地也是她所向往的目的地。她说：“相当于将音乐节和度假合二为一。”
这种类型的音乐旅行——围绕音乐会或音乐节来度假，也是加勒比海各类音乐会主题邮轮获得成功，以及墨西哥里维埃拉玛雅和多米尼加彭塔卡纳等度假胜地的全包式目的地节日出现增长的原因之一。在超大型节日遭遇各种限制之后，肯塔基摇滚乐队My Morning Jacket于2015年在墨西哥推出了One Big Holiday音乐节，由Cloud 9 Adventures负责其宣传工作。随后，该乐队今年将节日搬到了彭塔卡纳一个更大的度假村。
My Morning Jacket的鼓手帕特里克·哈拉汗说：“如果这是你的专属节日，那就跟家中演出无异。也就相当于把所有铁杆粉丝汇聚到目的地，然后为他们演出。在场的每个人都对此非常向往，而且都是自愿参加。如果你在大型节日演出，观众们想看的并非只有你一个，还有其他25支乐队。”
将关注点缩窄至一个乐队以及观众们自选的一些节目，是文化自我分类的标志，而且在其他地区也出现了这一现象。乐队Avett Brothers的贝斯手鲍勃·克劳福德称：“细分程度越来越高。”这支民谣摇滚乐队将于明年2月27至3月2日在彭塔卡纳举行第三届At the Beach音乐节，其门票已经售罄。“你可以为自己打造一个非常特别的生活环境，远离那些外界影响。不管是政治、音乐，都无所谓。拥有自己的节日只不过是当代生活的一部分罢了。”
When Wilco fans converge on western Massachusetts at the end of this month for the group’s Solid Sound Festival, a lucky few will get up onstage the first night to sing with the Chicago indie-rock group as winners of a live-band karaoke contest.
It’s the latest example of how Wilco connects with fans at the fest, which began in 2010 at Mass MoCA, a contemporary art museum in a 13-acre complex of renovated factory buildings in North Adams, Mass. At the previous Solid Sound, in 2017, the faithful voted online for which album they wanted to hear Wilco perform in its entirety. In 2013, fans nominated cover songs for the band to play, resulting in a set that included tunes by the Grateful Dead, Daft Punk, and Abba. And the very first year, the band members took turns sitting in a dunk tank, waiting for festival-goers to drop them into a big tub of cold water with a well-thrown ball.
“That wouldn’t happen on a typical night on tour in New York,” says Wilco bassist John Stirratt. That’s exactly the point: Solid Sound was among the first in an expanding array of boutique music fests that offer fans a chance to interact with bands in a more intimate way than heading down to the local venue when the group comes through on tour, or braving the crowds at the big-name mega-festivals. Hosting their own festivals also lets bands break out of the age-old “record an album, hit the road, repeat” cycle in favor of events that bring the audience to them.
To attract fans to small-scale destination festivals, artists often oversee the whole concept, including the setting, the musical lineup, and even food vendors and ancillary activities such as a comedy or film component. “You’re giving fans a more curated experience in your world,” Stirratt says.
Many musical acts have moved to offer curated experiences in recent years. Vermont rockers Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have hosted their Grand Point North festival in Burlington every summer since 2011. Members of Bon Iver and the National created the Eaux Claires festival in Eau Claire, Wis., in 2015. Americana duo Shovels & Rope has put on three incarnations of its own High Water Festival in North Charleston, S.C. Indie-rockers the Decemberists did two years of a band-curated event called Travelers Rest in Missoula, Mont. Heavy metal band the Deftones last year offered Día de los Deftones, a one-day festival in San Diego. Singer and rapper Pharrell Williams organized Something in the Water in Virginia Beach, Va., in April. The R&B singer H.E.R. last week announced a one-day festival in Concord, Calif., in September.
“Where you’re seeing a lot of growth in the festival market is in those smaller boutique festivals, and particularly the ones that have a very clear point of view,” says Alex Crothers, whose company Higher Ground Presents books performers for Solid Sound, Grand Point North, and five other artist-curated festivals.
Having a distinctive point of view is much harder with big festivals, Crothers says. Mega-fests such as Austin City Limits in Texas, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Coachella in California, or Lollapalooza in Chicago can draw upward of 75,000 people per day. (In fact, they have to to remain financially viable.) Bringing in such large audiences requires booking a broad range of performers that don’t cater to any one musical taste. By contrast, High Water this year attracted about 10,000 people to a festival with a musical lineup, and food events built around regional cuisine, that reflected Shovels & Rope’s aesthetic.
Andy Felder and Ashley Pascoe were among those attending. After three years of going to the much larger Hangout Music Festival in Alabama, the Brooklyn, N.Y., couple liked the lineup better this year at High Water. They bought VIP tickets for what they would have paid for general admission at Hangout, and were impressed by the whole weekend. “It was very much a thoughtful sensory experience,” says Felder, 38. “You could go to this thing just for the food. The setting was beautiful, it’s in this old retired naval facility, and everything comes together in a really rich way.”
Jessica Lillian, 35, also went to High Water this year. The Connecticut resident has preferred smaller festivals, including Solid Sound, after a bad experience once with heat and crowds at Austin City Limits. High Water had the dual benefit of performers she wanted to see, in a city that Lillian likes visiting. “It was a combination festival and vacation,” she says.
That kind of music tourism—building a vacation around a concert or festival—helps account for the success of genre-themed concert cruises in the Caribbean and the growth of destination festivals at all-inclusive resorts in places like Riviera Maya, Mexico or Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. After feeling crimped by the crush of mega-fests, the Kentucky rock band My Morning Jacket in 2015 launched One Big Holiday in Mexico with the promoter Cloud 9 Adventures, before moving the festival this year to a larger resort in Punta Cana.
“If it’s your festival, it’s like playing at your home,” says Patrick Hallahan, drummer for My Morning Jacket. “You’re bringing all of your diehard fans to the location and playing for them. Anybody that’s there wants to be there and came down there of their own accord. If you’re playing a larger festival, people are there to see you but they’re also there to see 25 different bands.”
Narrowing the focus to one band, and a handful of related acts they’ve chosen, is a sign of the cultural self-sorting happening in other areas. “Everything is getting very fragmented,” says bassist Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers. The folk-rock band’s third At the Beach festival, scheduled for Feb. 27-March 2 next year in Punta Cana, is already sold out. “You can create a very specific life for yourself where you don’t get these outside influences. Be it politics, music, whatever it is. Having your own festival is just another aspect of the times we’re living in.”
Indeed, some bands that don’t have yet have their own festivals are considering it. After performing on the hard-rock cruise ShipRocked earlier this year in the Gulf of Mexico, Papa Roach has started planning its own festival. “It’s the artists curating the culture for the fanbase, and that’s what the fans want,” singer Jacoby Shaddix says. “It’s not some guy sitting in an office picking what he thinks will be cool.”