Over the past few years the number of big, destination-type music festivals in the U.S. and Canada has exploded–last summer it seemed like there was a Modest Mouse-headlined festival with a stupid name for every couple hundred square miles of habitable land. If you thought the ecosystem would have a hard time sustaining them all if anything went wrong, well, you were right: by the looks of things 2009 is shaping up to be a die-off year, as the terrible economy prompts people to reconsider how much of their personal budgets should go toward devil sticks and overpriced smoothies. Miami’s Langerado festival and British Columbia’s Pemberton festival have already called off this year’s installments, and it’s likely that other fests will do the same in the coming weeks.
Against this backdrop it’s a bit of a surprise to hear that the Rothbury festival, which debuted in 2008, is returning for a second year. Its existence was a little perplexing from the start: Why would anyone drive to a small town on the far western side of Michigan’s lower peninsula to see a festival with a lineup barely distinguishable from that of every other similarly sized festival in the country but which had no name-brand cachet? By all accounts the thing was well run, though, and I guess camping out with hippies out in the Michigan countryside is pretty fun–the festival’s organizers have just announced that they’ll be doing it again this Fourth of July weekend.
There’s no lineup available yet, but if last year’s is any indicator, you can expect a lot of stoner-friendly alt-rock with a smattering of hip-hop and a well-stocked dance stage. It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan’s new medical marijuana law will affect the festival’s goings-on. Between that and the state’s crippled economy, Rothbury might well be the go-to spot for financially savvy hippies.