Music Festivals: Creating New Communities for a New Generation

Visions and Voices

In recent years, music festivals such as Coachella have drawn hundreds of thousands of people from the United States and abroad. This day-long event will include documentary screenings and a conversation on the music-festival phenomenon and what these events say about youth culture today.

Each generation creates venues where music can be shared. In recent years, music festivals such as Coachella, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and South By Southwest have drawn hundreds of thousands of people to listen to cutting-edge bands from the United States and abroad. Coachella has grown from 25,000 people during two days in 1999 to crowds of 85,000 a day over two three-day weekends in 2012. This growth raises interesting questions about the meaning of these communal spaces in the age of social media, virtual friendships and a decline in the traditional music industry. What do these events say about youth culture and its social and political links to concerts in the 1960s and ’70s? Can the transformative potential of music mobilize a culture? 

A panel exploring the music-festival phenomenon will feature DJ and KCRW music director Jason Bentley, Do LaB co-founder Dede Flemming, Insomniac COO Simon Rust Lamb, booking agent Amy Davidman and will be moderated by USC professor Josh Kun. Documentary screenings throughout the day will further reveal the power and impact of music festivals today and historically.

Schedule of Events: 

12:30 p.m.: Screening of Monterey Pop (1968)
Directed by D.A. Pennebaker, 79 minutes.
A concert film from the June 1967 festival held at the county fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Camera operators include famed documentarian Albert Maysles. The film includes incredible performances by Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Simon & Garfunkel, Otis Redding, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, who set his guitar on fire in an unforgettable performance.

2:30 p.m.: Screening of Wattstax (1973)
Directed by Mel Stuart, 98 minutes.
“The Afro-American answer to Woodstock” was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and focused on the community of Watts. Jesse Jackson gave the invocation, and musical performances by Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers and others are interspersed with notable interviews, including one with Richard Pryor. 

4:30 p.m.: Music Festivals: Creating New Communities for a New Generation
Panel discussion with Jason Bentley, Dede Flemming, Simon Rust Lamb and Amy Davidman, moderated by Josh Kun
A panel of experts will discuss the music-festival phenomenon: Dede Flemming, co-founder of The Do LaB, a Los Angeles–based company specializing in interactive environments, event production and creative lighting design for festivals and events around the world; Simon Rust Lamb, a music writer, lawyer and COO of Insomniac, Inc.; Amy Davidman, a booking agent with The Windish Agency who works with rock bands playing festivals around the world; and moderator Josh Kun, a professor at USC Annenberg who directs the Popular Music Project at the Norman Lear Center.

6 p.m.: Reception, Queen’s Courtyard 

7 p.m.: Screening of Electric Daisy Carnival Experience (2011)
Directed by Kevin Kerslake, 97 minutes.
Followed by a Q&A with Kevin Kerslake and Simon Rust Lamb
This techno and house music rave was the last one held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Featured acts included Deadmau5, and Moby.

About the Panelists:

Jason Bentley is the music director of KCRW and host of their signature program Morning Becomes Eclectic. He also has a distinguished career as a music supervisor for film and advertising and an exhaustive DJ schedule in Los Angeles. Bentley is a tireless champion of new music and culture with an influence close to home and around the globe. Bentley worked in A&R at Maverick and Island Records, supervised the music for the Matrix trilogy and has consulted for countless advertisements, video games and live events. As a DJ, Jason has performed at Coachella, elite industry Oscar parties and underground dance clubs. (Twitter)

Dede Flemming, along with brothers Jesse and Josh, are the founders of The Do LaB, an event creations company based in Southern California that produces the annual flagship event, Lightning in a Bottle Arts and Music Festival. Flemming focuses most of his attention on leading the operational, political and logistical components of the festival from year to year as well as other creative projects and environmental spaces that The Do LaB curates, including stage and art areas for Coachella, Boom Music Festival and beyond. (The Do LaB official website)

Josh Kun is a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, director of the Popular Music Project at the Norman Lear Center and a Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities fellow. He is the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America and co-author (with Roger Bennett) of And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost. He is a contributor to the New York Times and Los Angeles. He is also a co-founder of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a nonprofit Jewish record label and digital archive, and speaks often on topics ranging from cross-border Mexican music to the political and social history of rock music in Los Angeles, about which he curated a recent Pacific Standard Time exhibition at the GRAMMY Museum. (Twitter, bio)

Simon Rust Lamb, COO and General Counsel, Insomniac, Inc., has dedicated his career to producing positive, memorable, one-of-a-kind events. With over twenty years experience in the live music space, he has navigated all facets of this dynamic business, from legal, press and permit acquisition to venue relations, local politics, crisis management and collaborations with police, fire and other public departments. An avid entertainment observer and scholar, Lamb has written numerous national articles on arts and media, and teaches Select Topics in Live Entertainment Law for Southwestern Law School. He champions electronic music culture throughout all of his endeavors. (Insomniac official website)

Amy Davidman has been a booking agent with The Windish Agency for the last six years. In her fifteen years in the industry she worked closely with Frank Riley at High Road Touring, with David Lefkowitz at DLM Management doing day to day on Les Claypool/Primus and others, and beginning her career in the booking office at the Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom in New York City. She opened the Los Angeles office of The Windish Agency two years ago after a year living abroad in Santiago, Chile. She works with acts such as Little Dragon, Mexican Institute of Sound, Bomba Estéreo, Caribou, Cut Copy, Pink Martini, Ana Tijoux, Kinky and José González, among others.

Organized by the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, USC Libraries and the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

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