April 26, 2014 by Jay Minkin
There might not be a humongous music festival being held in Cleveland this summer, but you can capture the magic from the historical timeline of these events with a brand new major exhibit at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience is an engaging look at the music festival as more than just an outdoor concert. The festival atmosphere has become a community experience and an important economic engine of the music industry providing broad exposure for veteran musical artists and new bands to an extremely large and diverse audience.
Rock and roll changed as well as the American culture with the “Youth Quakes” of the late ‘60’s, created awareness in the early eighties with “festivals with a purpose”, and have now become “destination” festivals with events like Bonnaroo and Coachella. The exhibit crosses generations and highlights many of those amazing moments including iconic appearances by Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters at The Newport Folk Festival, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin fronting Big Brother and The Holding Company at Monterey Pop, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and Sly and The Family Stone at Woodstock, along with U2 and Queen at Live Aid.
Although there are only 80 artifacts for this major exhibit, there are three short films which define the history of the festival from different perspectives: the musicians’ side, the fans’ side, and as a business model. The space also includes a 65-inch monitor that will allow for real-time feeds from the 1,200 or so festivals that occur around the globe every year. Tweets and photos using the official hashtags of the assorted festivals and #myrockhall will automatically stream into the monitors.
On the upper level, you’ll walk into a space which features massive scaffolding that looks like the rafters of a concert stage, complete with lights and speakers. Four separate projectors display festival footage with one focusing on the stage itself while the other three show scenes from the same shows. The 20-minute film will take you through a festival from mid-morning start through the evening performances, and then start all over again. Common Ground will be on view at the museum through Jan. 31.