meta-scriptMayors Of Los Angeles, New York Expect Concerts & Festivals Not To Return Until 2021 | GRAMMY.com

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Mayors Of Los Angeles, New York Expect Concerts & Festivals Not To Return Until 2021

In separate statements, both officials for the country’s two largest cities emphasized the unlikelihood that live events will take place in any fashion before next year

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2020 - 12:47 am

While many may have hoped for a swift return to regular schedules following the coronavirus pandemic, recent statements from the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City suggest strong likelihood that live concerts, festivals and other large public gatherings will not take place in either megacity until 2021. The news presents a huge setback for hopeful fans, artists, music employees and the touring industry altogether, which is prospected to lose between $10–$12 billion in 2020, according to a Billboard report.

In a statement to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" on Wednesday (April 15), Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti stated, "It's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year."

He continued, saying "I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly. But until there's either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science. And public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments."

The proposition is not unreasonable, in fact, based on case numbers and the lack of widespread testing or vaccines, the United States is facing the brunt of the pandemic in particularly alarming fashion. As of now, over 118,000 cases have been confirmed in New York alone, with deaths reaching upwards of 8,000. More than 10,000 cases have been confirmed in L.A., and 360 have died.

Cases in the U.S. currently make up over 645,000 of the worldwide total 2.09 million, and nearly 30,000 have died. The global death toll stands at over 135,000.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio corroborated Garcetti’s precautious concern, saying that any semblance of a return to public normalcy could take months.

"I've got to see in my city real, steady progress, even to start to think about relaxing some of those social distancing standards even a little bit," he said. "I want to get people back to work, of course. I want to get kids back to school. But I think it will take months to go through that whole sequence. And the last thing I want to do is gather 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place. That's like the exact opposite of social distancing."

While quarantining and social-distancing mandates have helped to lessen the curve in different cities globally, public health officials still recognize that a timeline on eradicating the virus, especially in the absence of these protocols, could extend the fight against coronavirus into the foreseeable future.

With that, Garcetti pointed out a series of guidelines for L.A. that will necessarily proceed the city’s reopening, including a stronger testing system, ongoing research and bolstered hospital capacity, among other measures. According to the LA Times, the measures were proposed within the same day of the mayor’s indication to staff in a conference call that public gatherings are likely to be held until 2021.

WATCH LIST: Livestreaming Concerts From BTS To SOFI TUKKER To Catch During Coronavirus Quarantine

John Summit press photo
John Summit

Photo: Dana Trippe

interview

Finding 'Comfort In Chaos': John Summit On The Journey To His Debut Album

"I always wanted to do an album," the DJ/producer says of 'Comfort in Chaos.' Although Summit has graced many major stages, creating his full-length debut took "over 10 years of producing and eight years of releasing music to get confident enough."

GRAMMYs/Jul 9, 2024 - 01:18 pm

"I'm a little hungover, but I'm hanging in there," John Summit admits with a chuckle. The DJ/producer had stayed out late the night before (as DJs typically do) but for once, it wasn’t for work. Instead, he and his friends went bar- and club-hopping — "normal people stuff," Summit calls it. When asked how often he gets to do that these days, he laughs again. "Literally never. I felt like it was the first time in years." 

Given the past few years, it’s understandable. Summit was still early in his career when he released his breakout hit, 2020’s "Deep End," a couple months into global lockdown. He maintained that momentum with a long string of releases including "Thin Line" with Guz, "Sun Came Up" with Sofi Tukker and "Human," the latter producing his first U.S. Dance Radio No. 1.

When live events powered back up, Summit quickly graduated to playing major venues and main stages. In the last two years, he’s DJed everywhere from Movement Detroit to Manchester, Turin to Tulum, and NYC to nearly every Ibiza superclub; in between, he launched his Experts Only record label. This year, Summit closed out EDC Las Vegas and Coachella; in June, he headlined a show at Madison Square Garden. Being a dance music superstar is a marathonic job, but a glance at his off-the-cuff social media posts suggests he’s more than up for the challenge. 

Despite his hectic schedule, Summit somehow carved out time to write his debut album, Comfort in Chaos. In a way, it showcases his past, present and possible future. Recent single "EAT THE BASS" delivers the booming energy of the club tracks upon which he made his name; others, such as Billboard Top 10 hits "Where You Are" and "Shiver" with Hayla, are examples of his current evolution into lyric-focused songs, equally rich in melody and emotion. There are more surprises, still, as Summit explores sounds beyond his house and techno playground. "[This is] exactly the kind of music I've always wanted to make," he says, "but I never had an outlet or a reason to because they're not dance-floor-focused tracks."

The album’s sonic extremes also represent the duality between John Summit, the artist we see living his best life, one party at a time; and John Schuster (his given name), who’s introspective, who isn’t always confident, and who’s experienced "the lows" of returning from a show to an empty hotel room. "Now I'm comfortable where I am in life and I feel like I can tap into that [emotion]," he says. "It's cool to be able to show that side of me." 

Before Comfort in Chaos’ release on July 12 via Darkroom/Experts Only, Summit tells GRAMMY.com how he got to this milestone.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

How long has the idea of a debut album been in your mind? 

It's been in my mind since the day I started making music. I really got into songwriting four years ago. I did "Summertime Chi" with Lee Foss, which is an original written vocal, and then I did "What A Life" with Stevie Appleton a year later. That was received really well by my fans and I'm like, Oh, I don't have to just use samples. I can actually write completely original music.  

Ever since then, the music has gone crazy. The first single off the album that I made was "Where You Are" with Hayla, which came out over a year ago, and that's when I feel like the ball really started rolling. In November, I took a month off and wrote pretty much the whole album in London and it really all came together then.

An entire month off? That seems rare. 

Yeah, it's insane for me. I haven't taken a month off since I started touring, but I knew I had to do that, especially to make music that's not just meant for the dance floor. I produce on the go. I produce on planes and everything, but when you're always playing shows, you always make music just for the shows.

When you can actually take time off, I feel like you can make music that's actually meant for those rainy London days meant for just chilling with friends and stuff like that. So it was cool to make an actual body of work instead of just festival music.

What did that month look like for you in terms of the creative process? 

I got this studio house for a month; this crazy house that has a couple of studios in it. My bedroom's at the top and I would take a slide down to my studio literally from the bedroom. I had a session every day for 30 days straight, and I just invited all the singers and producers I worked with. Sub Focus for example, he lived in London and then Hayla, Julie Church, Paige Cavell.

Pretty much everyone I work with is UK-based, so it was kind of a no-brainer to go to London for that. It was a lot of fun because we just make music all day, then drink at night and party. That's when you can share all your ideas with other people, at night when you're having drinks, wanting to call it banter. It was great.

To speak more about the variety of music that you make: You initially broke out with very club-forward tracks like "Deep End." But as you said, you've since honed a more melodic, songwriting-based sound. Was it a conscious evolution or did it just gradually happen over time? 

I feel like it was just an evolution as an artist. House music is a very loop-based sound where it's, what, a four-by-four kick drum and an eight-bar loop… I kind of graduated from that to doing full-written songs [like] "Where You Are." But it took a lot of time.

I was always writing songs during that process, but they weren't good. Writing a full song, it's like going from a short film to a movie. I always wanted to do an album, but it really did take me over 10 years of producing and eight years of releasing music to get confident enough to be able to do this. 

How do you tap into the emotion of those songs, especially given the image that you portray online? 

I guess that's the whole purpose of the album: That I've been portraying this John Summit image my whole career, but in reality I'm John Schuster. The John Summit image is obviously an entertaining party guy that loves to have a good time; in reality, outside of the club, I'm just sitting at home making music, and I want to show the more introspective side of me.

I've been neglecting my emotions the past few years, especially after quitting the accounting job five years ago. Then I was just in this full party mindset, but now I'm comfortable where I am in life and I feel like I can tap into that. So it's cool to be able to show that side of me.

Who is that more introspective John Schuster? 

Someone that, I guess, shows that I'm not really a 100 percent confident all the time. That I've experienced very high highs, but very low lows as well. I mean, John Summit has the biggest highs on stage, but then I go back to my hotel room and I'm by myself and experiencing the lows and being by myself all the time. So I guess showing that kind of emotional side is fun for my music at least. 

Absolutely. I imagine it’s difficult going not from zero to a hundred, but a hundred to zero. 

Exactly. That's the hard part. Zero to a hundred is the fun part.

If debut albums are like an artist's mission statement, what do you want 'Comfort in Chaos' to say? 

I think kind of what I was just touching on, the duality of John Schuster and John Summit. This is the first time I've fully shown my other half. I've been showing it through singles: "Where You Are," "Go Back," "Shiver" and stuff. But to do it in a full album where — especially the intro track where there's really no vocals on it, and it starts experimental and a bit progressive, and then the drop is really just a kick in bass. It's tension-release, which I love in music, but it just shows, not to be too pun intended, the comfort in the chaos that is my life right now.

What brings you comfort in chaos? 

That's a good question. Honestly, it's more so me trying to find my comfort in chaos. Because the thing is that if I'm on stage every night, I’ve got to be comfortable up there. The more confident I am, the better show that I do. And so I think I'm finding it now.  

It's kind of the whole fake it till you make it. At first I had to get hammered every single night just to get on stage, and now I can get up there without doing that, which is a big stepping stone for me. 

So it seems like it's more about the journey than the destination. 

Exactly, exactly. It's basically trying to find my comfort in chaos. And I think I've gotten there, so now is the perfect time for the album. I couldn't release that while I'm still not comfortable.

Given how significant Kaskade and deadmau5’s "I Remember" is to your electronic music journey, it must feel very special to have Kaskade on the album. 

Yeah, it was kind of a no-brainer. I was able to remix "I Remember" last year, which is huge for me. The track that literally got me into electronic music. Kascade is also from Chicago, and he's the one that introduced me to Hayla, too.  

We've been trying to make something work and we just didn't know what direction to go with it. It took a while, but we both love melodic and emotional music and we both love heavy techno, and so we made it work in one song, which is great because the track starts very comforting and it gets very chaotic, so it's very on-brand with the album.

What have you learned from Kaskade, whether directly or from afar? 

I've learned patience, and that everything's going to be okay. I'm a very neurotic person; I am very anxious and worry about every little detail, and he's the coolest, calmest guy I've ever met. I think it has to do with just his experience in the scene. Everything I'm experiencing is something he's experienced at some point in his DJ career, and even before Coachella, I was like, "Man, I don't know if I can do this" And he was like, "Bro, you got this. It's easy. Play your music." And I'm like, "Oh s—, you're right." It’s as simple as that. Yeah, he's been a good mentor.

To borrow a word that you've used in another interview, being "unhinged" on social media has played a significant role in building your fan base over the years. How has your relationship with social media changed in terms of the content you share and fan interactions? 

I'm still definitely unhinged on social media. That hasn't changed, but it has made me not afraid to show all facets of myself. I've just started showing the more emotional and deeper side of myself, but it is cool that I can say no matter who I am, I have good days and bad days. The fans can connect and resonate with that, which is cool because it was annoying growing up and following artists who are perfect on social media all the time. So I try to be as transparent as possible. 

Given the positive response to your collaboration with Subfocus, do you feel more encouraged to get eclectic in your future music? 

The Subfocus one was still pretty dance-floor-focused, and I still haven't released anything that's not dance-floor-focused. I mean, obviously in the album there is with the intro, with "Calm Down," with "Undo," with ["Palm of My Hands"] and ["Stay With Me"], so I'm waiting to see how fans like that. But at the end of the day, though, I’m at the point in my career where I don't have to put out things just to please dance floors. I feel like I've kind of made it where now I can experiment more and take risks. Now is when my career is starting to actually get fun. 

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Janet Jackson performs at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture.
Janet Jackson performs at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture

Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Essence 

interview

Celebrating 30 Years Of Essence Fest: How New Orleans & Multi-Generational, Diasporic Talent Create The "Super Bowl Of Culture"

Ahead of the 30th Essence Festival Of Culture, held July 4-7 in New Orleans, GRAMMY.com spoke with executives and curators of the legendary celebration of Black excellence.

GRAMMYs/Jul 2, 2024 - 03:02 pm

Every July, millions of Black people, specifically Black women, descend upon New Orleans for the Essence Festival of Culture (EFOC). Known for many years as the Essence Festival, the festival is a celebration of Black culture, community, and heritage. Since its inception in 1995 as a one-off event to commemorate the publication’s 25th anniversary, the festival has evolved into a diasporic jubilee, drawing in people of African descent from across the diaspora. 

In addition to its global presence, the festival pours millions of dollars into the local New Orleans community, which has served as the festival's home for 30 years (with the exception of 2006, when the festival was held in Houston, because of Hurricane Katrina). In 2020, the festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, the annual festival continues to be one of the most sought-after and attended festivals in the United States. 

This year’s Essence Festival of Culture will be held at the Superdome from July 4-7, replete with legendary and fast-rising talents. On July 5, Birdman & Friends will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cash Money Records. The following day will feature a special performance by Charlie Wilson, while Usher will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Confessions.

Janet Jackson and Victoria Monét will headline the festival's final night, while Frankie Beverly and Maze close out the festival with the return of All-White Night. Other performers include The Roots featuring Mickey Guyton, Ari Lennox and T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Raphael Saadiq, D-Nice featuring Shelia E, Big Boi, and many more.  

Read more: Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More 

EFOC has been compared to SXSW, Coachella, Austin City Limits, and other notable festivals, yet it stands out for its empowerment-centered approach. It is not simply a festival, it is a family reunion. The one festival in the United States that does not pander to or take advantage of Black audiences, but truly celebrates them and their achievements. Although music has always been an integral part of the festival’s ethos — Aretha Franklin and B.B. King performed at the first iteration — the festival excels in its multi-generational and interdisciplinary programming. On any given day, attendees can attend sessions on Black entrepreneurship, politics, mental health, and literature, as well as seminars focused on issues impacting the Black community.  

There’s a reason why the festival is referred to as the party with a purpose. For decades, it has operated as a celebratory convening place for Black people, Black families, and Black communities. Now, more than ever, spaces like EFOC are needed, as the Black community experiences an onslaught of changes — from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina and Tennessee being subject to intense government oversight, to Black women-owned venture capital firms being targeted by conservatives, and Black voting rights becoming at risk during an election year. 

Ahead of the festival’s 30th celebration, Michael Barclay, Executive Vice President of Experiential for ESSENCE Ventures and Barkue Tubman Zawolo, Chief of Staff, Talent and Diasporic Engagement for Essence Ventures, spoke to the Recording Academy about the history, legacy, and future of the Essence Festival of Culture.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Are you part of the generation that grew up with the Essence Festival of Culture? If so, how does it feel to be a part of it?

Barkue Tubman Zawolo: I'm originally from Liberia. And even being in Liberia, prior to my family moving to the U.S. in 1980, Essence was always a thing for my mom and my aunts. When we came here, fast forward to me, as an adult, [after] graduating college, I got into the music industry. I've managed artists that have gone through the Essence stages and pages in different ways.

Essence Fest has always been something that we were familiar with. I have to say, I had not really experienced Essence Fest until 2019 when Essence was actually a client. One of the things that I was doing [at that point] was integrating the Diaspora and African creatives within the festival in fashion and music.

To be in the role that I'm in right now and to be on a team with people who have been a part of Essence for a long time…. Essence seems to be ingrained in all of our fabric. [What] started as a music festival now is the Super Bowl of Culture that is the Essence Festival of Culture. To be on the team that helps bring this to life for our community is a daunting but rewarding task all in the same. 

Essence is something that I don't think anybody in our community takes lightly. Even our partners understand the value of it. We certainly understand that we serve the Essence-inverse and, and we are in service to this community. It is a huge honor to be able to be a part of the team that brings this to life and, and, and constantly hear what it means to the community globally too. 

One thing that I admired, especially about last year's festival, was GU Kickback — a music event hosted by Girls United, the publication’s Gen Z vertical. I saw a number of local artists from New Orleans, such as 504ICYGRL. ESSENCE just released a series of cover stories celebrating the 30 year relationship between the publication and New Orleans; how do you highlight the city and their history?

Michael Barclay: As somebody who's worked in experiential, creating gatherings and experiences for almost 25 years now, the venue is always important when you're trying to set the box where you are creating for your community, for your audience. New Orleans has been that backdrop for us for almost 30 years now. 

New Orleans is the convergence of our mission, our brand, in a city that is perfectly matched for that energy. New Orleans is as much a part of Essence Festival of Culture as Essence Magazine is to Essence Festival. 

It is very much a partnership that has created this cultural movement. To be more inclusive, and highlight more of those local relationships and talent is very intentional. It has been something that we have put a lot of energy and effort into over the last couple of years. 

This will be my third festival this year. I think Barkue, you started maybe a year or two before me. We're a fairly new crew that is working to help grow and reshape and solidify those relationships. Even with how we handle the management of the festival. 

Our VP of Essence Festival, Hakeem Holmes is a hometown boy from New Orleans. He's the pride and joy. They love to see him coming. He's always enlightening us on the things that we need to be focused on for the city and how we make the best partnership and make the best impact on the area.

It was intentional what you saw last year. It's intentional this year. We dedicated our entire festival edition of the magazine as a love letter to New Orleans. It's a symbiotic relationship that is one of the key reasons why this festival is the Super Bowl of Culture.  

I would love to hear about the talent aspect of the festival. Last year, Megan Thee Stallion headlined. In previous years, Beyoncé and Prince have served as headliners. What is the formula between balancing local talent, national talent and diasporic talent at the festival?

Zawolo: As we grow the festival, the intentionality becomes even more and more important. And, what we do in understanding where we are as a brand. 

We're 30 years into the festival, the brand is 55 years. What's traditionally known as the Essence Woman is now bringing her daughter. It's multi-generational. We also know that the world is as big as your cell phone, so people are now exposed to different types of content and music. 

We see the influence of Afrobeats and Caribbean music. We are intentional about making sure that every night really speaks to multiple generations, but it's anchored in a generation. It's like, who's bringing, who to the concert on Friday? Is it the daughter bringing her mama? 

It's anchored in  that younger demo, but we're going to make sure that they're going to have a collective good time there. Saturday is usually our heaviest night. We have our living legends that show up there; that really cuts across generations. This is anybody can bring anybody, but let me tell you, you're going to be able to teach each other, connect with each other with the different groupings of talent that we have.

We try to make sure that there is something that speaks to us, but that that connects with the diaspora on as many nights as possible. Sometimes it's not because they're from a different country, but because we know the music also resonates.

If you think of Janet Jackson, you can go anywhere in the world. She can check off that box, although she's not from there. You can create those ties, but we also are intentional about having Ayra Starr and Machel Montano. Last year we had Tems and Wizkid. The goal is to continue to grow what that looks like, because we are a global brand and that is our diasporic and global intent in connecting the global Black community is really important.  

We are intentionally multi-generational. We intentionally lead into where a multitude of generational communities can come together and have fun together. There is something for everybody. We have a unique opportunity with Essence as the brand grows to be able to not only speak to what they want to call the aunties, I call the punties. I also think that this is where we get to educate the next generation on where we're coming from. We also get to learn from them on where they are and where they want to go. 

What a beautiful way to kind of tie all of these connections. Last year, the festival celebrated 50 years of hip-hop; this year you're celebrating the 30th anniversary of the festival. What is the intention behind this year’s music programming?

Zawolo: Paying homage to people who had done some historical things on our stages. We have Janet [Jackson] back. People are like, “Oh, we saw Janet two years ago,” but Janet is also one of the highest sellers in the festival's history. 

If we're going to celebrate, let's celebrate, because we know Janet never disappoints. We also want to lean into some of the [older] talent, like Charlie Wilson, Uncle Charlie. He's graced that stage so many times, but yet it's still very relevant. Using this moment to reignite things that we've done in the past and bring them back to life that we know the audience missed.

Frankie Beverly, who is going to come, this is probably going to really be his last performance. The passing of the torch. This year was about having to be intentional about what other milestones are happening that are important to this culture. Cash Money is also celebrating 30 years. Who better, right?  

Essence has been in New Orleans for 30 years. Cash Money and crew are from New Orleans. Juvenile just got the key to the city from the mayor. We want to honor and celebrate him, but we also want to recognize the influence that this group of very creative, entrepreneurial, rappers and artists have had on culture, because there was a time where we all were backing that ass up. 

Making sure we highlighted milestones, connecting with people who have historically been a part of making history with us, introducing some new ones — that's what we have to do. We have to set up now for the next 30 years. We want to go to the soul of what appeals to our audience, and we're really all about good music.  

I think the 30th year just continues to do what we do. As we look to grow and connect demos, Megan Thee Stallion is a very viable option because again, the daughter now is going to bring the mama. Intergenerational diasporic and connecting demos, I think that only happens at the Superdome. That's also happening in the convention center, which I believe is honestly the soul of the festival. 

What are your hopes and aspirations for the next 30 years of the Essence Festival of Culture? Will Essence Fest always be in New Orleans? Are we going to have an Essence Fest in Lagos, Nigeria?

Barclay: Being on this side of [EFOC], seeing the true impact of the festival and how it impacts the communities, how it impacts the folks that come to New Orleans, and now, because we've expanded to our virtual audience, the 1.7 million that are viewing around the world, my hope for the festival is that we continue to show up where our community needs us.

We're going to be in New Orleans. We're going to be in our official world as we call it. If you can't make it to New Orleans, you can tune into Essence.com and you can see what's going on there. We are creating virtual experiences, AR experiences, VR experiences, all those things, so really keeping up with the way that people continue to connect with each other, whether they're physically in the same place or halfway across the world.

I think that type of innovation is what I want to continue to see us do and allow us to create that joy that we generate in New Orleans and wherever it's needed for our community.

PRIDE & Black Music Month: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ & Black Voices

Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023.
Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023

Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

feature

The Environmental Impact Of Touring: How Scientists, Musicians & Nonprofits Are Trying To Shrink Concerts' Carbon Footprint

"It’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour," singer Brittany Howard says of efforts to make concerts more sustainable. From the nonprofit that partnered with Billie Eilish, to an MIT initiative, the music industry aims to curb climate change.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:30 pm

Beloved by fans around the globe, yet increasingly unaffordable for many artists, concert tours are central to the world of entertainment and local economies. After the pandemic-era global shuttering of concert venues large and small, tours are back, and bigger than ever.  

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is smashing records, selling more than four million tickets and earning more than $1 billion. But that tour made headlines for another reason: as reported in Business Insider and other outlets, for a six-month period in 2023, Swift’s two jets spent a combined 166 hours in the air between concerts, shuttling at most a total of 28 passengers. 

Against that backdrop, heightened concerns about the global environmental cost of concert touring have led a number of prominent artists to launch initiatives. Those efforts seek both to mitigate the negative effects of touring and communicate messages about sustainability to concertgoers. 

A 2023 study sponsored by Texas-based electricity provider Payless Power found that the carbon footprint of many touring bands was massive. In 2022, concert tours in five genres — country, classic rock, hip-hop/rap, metal and pop — were responsible for CO2 emissions totaling nearly 45,000 metric tons. A so-called greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change by radiative forcing; increased levels of CO2 also contribute to health problems.  

No serious discussion of climate issues suggests a worldwide halt to live music touring, but there exists much room for improvement. Both on their own and with the help of dedicated nonprofit organizations, many artists are taking positive steps toward mitigating the deleterious effects that touring exerts upon the environment.  

Smart tour planning is one way to lessen an artist’s carbon footprint. Ed Sheeran’s 2022 European run minimized flights between concert venues, making that leg of his tour the year's most environmentally efficient. Total carbon dioxide emissions (from flights and driving) on Sheeran’s tour came to less than 150 metric tons. In contrast, Dua Lipa’s tour during the same period generated 12 times as much — more than 1800 metric tons — of CO2 

In July, singer/songwriter and four-time GRAMMY nominee Jewel will embark on her first major tour in several years, alongside GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge. During the planning stage for the 28-city tour, Jewel suggested an idea that could reduce the tour’s carbon footprint.

"I always thought it was so silly and so wasteful — and so carbon footprint-negative — to have separate trucks, separate lighting, separate crews, separate hotel rooms, separate costs," Jewel says. She pitched the idea of sharing a backing band with Etheridge. "I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years," Jewel says with a laugh. "Melissa is the first person who took me up on it!" 

The changes will not only reduce the tour’s carbon footprint, but they’ll also lessen the cost of taking the shows on the road. Acknowledging that there are many opportunities to meet the challenges of touring’s negative impact upon the environment, Jewel emphasizes that “you have to find [solutions] that work for you.”

Sheeran and Jewel aren’t the only popular artists trying to make a difference. A number of high profile artists have become actively involved in creating the momentum for positive change. Those artists believe that their work on sustainability issues goes hand in hand with their role as public figures. Their efforts take two primary forms: making changes themselves, andadvocating for action among their fans.  

The Climate Machine 

Norhan Bayomi is an Egypt-born environmental scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a key member of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, a program launched to address sustainable climate action. She’s also a recording artist in the trance genre, working under the name Nourey 

The ESI collaborates with industry heavyweights Live Nation, Warner Music Group and others as well with touring/recording acts like Coldplay to examine the carbon footprint of the music industry. A key component of the ESI is the Climate Machine, a collaborative research group that seeks to help the live music industry reduce carbon emissions. "As a research institution, we bring technologies and analytics to understand, in the best way possible, the actual impact of the music industry upon climate change," says John Fernández, Director of the ESI.  

"I’m very interested in exploring ways that we can bridge between environmental science, climate change and music fans," Bayomi says. She explains that the tools at the ESI’s disposal include "virtual reality, augmented reality and generative AI," media forms that can communicate messages to music fans and concertgoers. Fernández says that those endeavors are aimed at "enlisting, enabling and inspiring people to get engaged in climate change." 

The Environmental Solutions Initiative cites Coldplay as a high-profile success. The band and its management issued an "Emissions Update" document in June 2024, outlining its success at achieving their goal of reducing direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel. The established target was a 50 percent cut in emissions compared to Coldplay’s previous tour; the final result was a 59 percent reduction between their 2022-23 tour and 2016-17 tour.  

A significant part of that reduction came as a result of a renewable-energy based battery system that powers audio and lights. The emissions data in the update was reviewed and independently validated by MIT’s Fernández.  

Change Is Reverberating 

Guitarist Adam Gardner is a founding member of Massachusetts-based indie rockers Guster, but he's more than just a singer in a rock band. Gardner is also the co-founder of REVERB, one of the organizations at the forefront of developing and implementing climate-focused sustainability initiatives.  

Founded in 2004 by Gardner and his wife, environmental activist Lauren Sullivan, REVERB  began with a goal of making touring more sustainable; over the years its focus has expanded to promote industry-wide changes. Today, the organization promotes sustainability throughout the industry  in partnership with music artists, concert venues and festivals.  

REVERB initiatives have included efforts to eliminate single-use plastics at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, clean energy projects in cooperation with Willie Nelson and Billie Eilish, and efforts with other major artists. Gardner has seen sustainability efforts grow over two decades 

"It’s really amazing to see the [change] with artists, with venues, with fans," Gardner says. "Today, people are not just giving lip service to sustainable efforts; they really want to do things that are real and measurable."  

The Music Decarbonization Project is one tangible example of REVERB’s successes. "Diesel power is one of the dirtiest sources of power," Gardner explains. "And it’s an industry standard to power festival stages with diesel generators." Working with Willie Nelson, the organization helped switch the power sources at his annual Luck Reunion to clean energy. At last year’s festival, Nelson’s headlining stage drew 100 percent of its power from solar-powered batteries. "We set up a temporary solar farm," Gardner says, "and the main stage didn’t have to use any diesel power."  

Billie Eilish was another early supporter of the initiative. "She helped us launch the program," Gardner says. Eilish’s set at Lollapallooza 2023 drew power from solar batteries, too.  

With such high-profile successes as a backdrop, Gardner believes that REVERB is poised to do even more to foster sustainable concerts and touring. "Our role now," he says, "isn’t just, ‘Hey, think about this stuff.’ It’s more how do we push farther, faster?"  

Adam Gardner believes that musicians are uniquely positioned to help make a difference where issues of sustainability are concerned. "When you’re a musician, you’re connecting with fans heart-to-heart. That’s what moves people. And that’s where the good stuff happens."  

Small-scale, individual changes can make a difference — especially when they’re coordinated and amplified among other concertgoers. Gardner provides real-world examples. "Instead of buying a plastic bottle, I brought my reusable and filled it up. Maybe I carpooled to the show." Conceding that such steps might seem like drops of water in a giant pool, he emphasizes the power of scale. "When you actually multiply [those things for] just one summer tour, it adds up," he says. "And it reminds people, ‘You’re not alone in this; you’re part of a community that’s taking action."  

Gardner understands that REVERB’s arguments have to be framed the right way to reach concertgoers. "Look," he admits, "It’s a concert. We’re not here to be a buzzkill. Our [aim] now is making sure people don’t lose hope." He says that REVERB and its partners seek to demonstrate that, with collective action and cultural change, there is reason for optimism.  

"There’s a wonderful feedback loop between hope and action," Gardner says with a smile. "You can’t really have one without the other."  

Sustainable Partnerships 

Tanner Watt is Director of Partnerships at REVERB; he works directly with touring artists to develop, coordinate and implement initiatives that bring together his organization’s objectives and the specific personal concerns of the artists. "I get to come up with all the fun, big ideas," he says with a wide smile.  

Watt acknowledges that like every concertgoer, each touring artist has a certain level of responsibility where sustainability is concerned. "And everyone can be doing something," he says, noting a number of straightforward actions that artists can put in place while on tour. "They can eliminate single-use waste. They can donate hotel toiletries that [would otherwise] hit the landfill."  

Watt stresses that artists can lead by example. "Nobody wants to listen to an artist telling them what to do if they’re not doing it themselves," he says. "But we believe that everybody cares about something." He suggests that if an artist has cultivated a following, "Why not use [that platform] to be that change you want to see in the world?"  

Each artist has his or her own specific areas of concern, but Watt says that there’s a base level of "greening" that takes place on every REVERB-affiliated tour. Where things go from there is up to the artist, in coordination with REVERB. Watt mentions Billie Eilish and her tour’s sustainability commitment. "The Venn diagram of food security, community health, access to healthy food, and the impact on the planet is a big cause for her," he says. "So there’s plant-based catering for her entire crew, across the entire tour." 

Speaking to Billboard, Eilish's mother Maggie Baird said championing sustainability starts with artists. "If artists are interested, it does really start with them telling their teams that they care and that it’s foremost in their thoughts." In the same conversation, Eilish called the battle for sustainability "a never-ending f–king fight."  

Watt acknowledges that with so many challenges, it’s important for a concerned artist to focus on the issues that move them the most, and where they can make the biggest difference. "Jack Johnson is a great example," he says. While Johnson is a vocal advocate for many environmental issues, on tour he focuses on two (in Watt’s words) "cause umbrellas": single-use plastics solutions and sustainable community food systems. Each show on the tour hosts tables representing local nonprofit organizations, presenting concertgoers with real-world, human-scale solutions to those specific challenges.  

Four-time GRAMMY winner Brittany Howard is another passionate REVERB partner. "Knowing that I wanted to make my tours more sustainable was a start," she tells GRAMMY.com, "but working with REVERB really helped me bring it to life on the road. REVERB has helped us with guidelines and a green rider to keep our stage, greenrooms and buses more sustainable." 

After listing several other specific ways that her tour supports sustainability, Howard notes, "By supporting these efforts, I am helping ensure future generations have access to clean water, fish, and all that I love about the outdoors." A dollar from every ticket sold to a Brittany Howard concert goes toward support of REVERB’s Music Decarbonization project. "I’m also excited to see industry-wide efforts that are reducing the carbon pollution of live music," Howard continues. "Because it’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour." 

There’s a popular aphorism: "You can’t manage what you can’t measure." From its start, REVERB has sought not only to promote change, but to measure its success. "As long as I’ve been at REVERB, we’ve issued impact reports," says Tanner Watt. "We include data points, and give the report to the artists so they understand what we’ve done together." He admits that some successes are more tangible than others, but that it’s helpful to focus on the ones that can be quantified. "We’re very excited that our artists share those with their fans."  

Watt is clear-eyed at the challenges that remain. "Even the word ‘sustainable’ can be misleading," he concedes, suggesting that the only truly sustainable tour is the one that doesn’t happen. "But if folks don’t step it up and change the way we do business in every industry — not just ours — we’re going to get to a place where we’re forced to make sacrifices that aren’t painless." Getting that message across is REVERB’s aim. "We can’t stop the world," Watt says. "So we find ways to approach these things positively."  

Watt says that the fans at concerts featuring Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band — both longtime REVERB partners — are already on board with many of the sustainability-focused initiatives which those artists promote. "But there are lots of artists — and lots of fan bases — out there that aren’t messaged to, or have been mis-messaged to," he says. "I’m really excited to find more ways to expand our reach to them, beyond mainstream pop music. Because these are conversations that are meaningful for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or other beliefs."  

Reimagining The Planet’s Future 

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Met does more than front AJR, the indie pop trio he founded in 2005 with brothers Jack and Ryan. Met has a PhD in sustainable development and is a climate activist; he's also the founder/Executive Director of Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability and activism through its work with businesses, other organizations and musicians.  

"I’ve spent years traveling around the world, seeing the direct impact of climate change," Met says. He cites two recent and stark examples. "When we pulled up to a venue in San Francisco, the band had to wear gas masks going from the bus into the venue, because of forest fires," he says. AJR’s road crew had to contend with a flash flood in Athens, Greece that washed out their hotel. "And in Rome, some of our crew members fainted because of the heat."  

Encouraged by representatives from the United Nations, Met launched Planet Reimagined. Met’s approach focuses on tailored, city-specific actions to empower fans and amplify diverse voices in the climate movement. Through social media and live shows, Met strives to galvanize climate activism among AJR fans. And the methods he has developed can be implemented by other touring artists.  

Met points out that one of the most climate-unfriendly parts of the entire concert tour enterprise is fans traveling to and from the concerts. And that’s something over which the artist has little or no control. What they can do, he says, is try to educate and influence. Working closely with Ticketmaster and other stakeholders, Met’s nonprofit initiated a study — conducted from July to December 2023, with results published in April 2024 — to explore the energy that happens at concerts. "In sociology," he explains, "that energy is called collective effervescence." The study’s goal is to find ways to channel that energy toward advocacy and action.  

Polling a quarter million concertgoers across musical genres, the study collected data on attitudes about climate change. "Seventy-three percent of fans who attend concerts believe that climate change is real, and that we need to be doing more about it," Met says. "Seventy-eight percent have already taken some sort of action in their lives." He believes that if his organization can activate even a fraction of the estimated 250 million people annually who attend concerts around the globe, "that’s the ballgame."  

Met’s goal is to do more than, say, get concertgoers to switch from plastic to paper drinking straws. "At scale those things make a difference. But people want to see actions where there’s a track record," he says; a return on investment.  

AJR will be putting a plan into action on the second half of their upcoming arena tour. Part of the initiative is encouraging concertgoers to register to vote, and then actually vote. Beyond that, Met has specific actions in mind. "At every single stop, we’re putting together materials around specific policies that are being debated at the local level," he explains. "We give people a script right there, so they can call their elected representative and say, ‘I want you to vote [a certain way on this issue].’"  

He believes the initiative will lead to thousands of people contacting – and hopefully influencing – their representatives. With regard to sustainability issues, Met is convinced that "the most impact that you can have as an artist is when you give fans ways to pick up the mantle themselves." 

Artists Who Are Going On Tour In 2024: The Rolling Stones, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo & More 

 

Teezo Touchdown performing
Teezo Touchdown

Photo: Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage 

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10 Acts You Can't Miss At Bonnaroo 2024: Four Tet, Teezo Touchdown, Chappell Roan & More

From acts that embody the classic jam band spirit like Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to fan favorites like Idles, read on for 10 must-see sets at Bonnaroo 2024.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:25 pm

Anyone who’s been to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which returns June 13-16 for its 21st edition, will know that the Manchester, Tennessee festival can be a marathon.  

High summer temperatures and humidity, often some rain and mud, and more than 100 artists to navigate over four full days — three of which extend with late-night sets that run until nearly 4 a.m. But, veteran Roo attendees also know that it’s well worth enduring. 

Of the myriad fests held each year, few have the sense of community felt at Bonnaroo. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the majority of the roughly 90,000 attendees are camping, meaning that no matter what happens, they’re all in it together. Or maybe it has to do with the fest’s self-generated “Bonnaroovian code,” which implores festgoers to “radiate positivity” throughout.

During the early aughts, a huge part of the bonding experience arrived during cross-generational legacy artist sets — often classic rock legends or big time jam bands closing out the fest’s final day — including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Phish, Widespread Panic and the String Cheese Incident. As primary ticket buyer age demographics shifted, so did the lineups, particularly with regard to headliners, who began leaning more prominently toward pop, hip-hop and EDM. This year’s finale sets feature Pretty Lights (playing two full back-to-back sets on June 13 plus a sunrise set two nights later), Post Malone, Fred again.. and Red Hot Chili Peppers (the one top-line exception as they’re arguably a legacy act at this point). 

Of course, there are plenty of performers amongst the lineup’s incredibly diverse undercard that still embody the classic jam band spirit, and even more newcomers or rising stars that encompass a mind boggling range of musical styles. Read on to get the inside line on 10 must-see artists who fall into the latter category. 

Say She She

If you’re angling to find a dance party to get your blood pumping on the first day of the fest, look no further than Brooklyn-based Say She She. Fronted by three women — Piya Malik (formerly of Chicano Batman), Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown — Say She She produce flawless harmonies over what they describe as “discodelic soul.”

At their core, they sound like Nile Rogers and Chic, who they’ve candidly owned as chief influences (to the point where Rogers reached out to personally give them a nod). There’s sometimes bits of ABBA vibes sprinkled in, but all that said, their sound is hardly a rip-off. The music certainly pays tribute to classic disco, but with elements of 90s R&B and neo-soul, it comes across as fresh, unfiltered and — on the strength of three voices harnessing incredible range — capable of moving in countless other sonic directions. They’re two albums in (sophomore full-length Silver was released last year) and already garnering shining reviews; now’s the time to catch an act in a small tent before they assuredly graduate to bigger stages.

Read more: Say She She's Big Year: How The NYC Disco Funk Group Made Sure The World Wouldn't Forget Them 

Abby Holliday

Indie rock is a fine general description for the music of singer/songwriter Abby Holliday, but it’s difficult to put her style in one box. Sure, a lot of the music on her 2023 sophomore album I’M OK NO I’M NOT sounds quite a bit like boygenius, but it dares to go further. Holliday incorporates unexpected elements like autotune vocals, which often resonate like Bon Iver and at other times more closely resemble the hooks from popular hip-hop songs.

Amid the gentle melodies and distinctly emotional lyrics are bursts of heaviness and exuberant energy, which in all likelihood will translate to a magnetic set to help kick off the Roo roster on June 14. One can only imagine how triumphant it might feel to play an essentially hometown fest of this magnitude (Holliday is based in Nashville, about an hour’s drive west). It’s almost a sure bet it will be a milestone moment worth witnessing.  

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

The first Bonnaroo in 2002 was headlined by Trey Anastasio, moe. and Widespread Panic (among others), and slowly but surely, Bonnaroo has veered away from those jam band-heavy roots. But there’s always something in the mix harkening back to those origins, and this year it’s unmistakably Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

The five-piece group was conceived in 2013 by its namesake drummer / singer along with another jam rock veteran, Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz, and has since established itself as one of the foremost Grateful Dead tribute bands (they play other tunes, but the Dead are the main focus). The last Grateful Dead-oriented performance at Roo was Dead and Company’s back-to-back double sets in 2016, so if you’re looking to experience some long-awaited old school Roo vibes among the fest’s veteran fans, make sure to pop by JRAD’s show on June 14. 

Gary Clark Jr.

With the March release of latest album JPEG raw, Austin, Texas-bred guitar hero and four-time GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr. seems intent on breaking out of the blues mold — a common blanket description for his catalog spanning nearly two decades. On his fourth full-length, he delves deep into hip-hop, classic R&B (notably with a feature from living legend Stevie Wonder on “What About the Children”) and even traditional African music. If you’ve listened closely to Clark’s music all along, you’d know that he’s always incorporated a slew of styles, but his recent recordings represent the most overt effort to exude his sonic diversity.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years — which will doubtless be on full display during his Bonnaroo appearance — is Clark’s penchant for superb shredding. You already know this if you’ve seen him live, and for all the newcomers, get ready for your jaw to drop for the duration of his hour-long set on June 14.

Read more: Gary Clark, Jr. On 'JPEG RAW': How A Lockdown Jam Session, Bagpipes & Musical Manipulation Led To His Most Eclectic Album Yet

Cage the Elephant

Kentucky-bred outfit Cage the Elephant delivers one of the most riveting rock shows around. With his Iggy Pop-esque antics — never not running and writhing from end to end and often standing atop the audience — frontman Matt Shultz’s stage presence alone is enough to rile up thousands of fest fans at any time of day.

That’s been the standard since they put out their 2008 self-titled debut, and based on the decidedly anthemic indie-rock sonics of just-released sixth full-length Neon Pill (plus the fact that they’ll be only a little more than a month into touring and imbued with a fresh burst of boisterousness), there’s every chance the band’s June 15 main stage set will manifest as an explosive Roo moment not-to-be-missed. 

Teezo Touchdown

Hailing from the small, unsuspecting East Texas city of Beaumont, rapper, singer/songwriter and producer Teezo Touchdown (born Aaron Lashane Thomas) only launched his professional career eight years ago. But within the past four years, he’s become a household name among contemporary rappers. His 2023 debut album How Do You Sleep at Night? notably featured 10-time GRAMMY nominee Janelle Monáe; in the years preceding, he’d already collaborated with Travis Scott, Tyler, the Creator, and Lil Yachty. He performed to his largest audience as a guest at this year’s Coachella during Doja Cat’s headlining sets to perform their single “MASC.”

Yet, his impressive set of credentials isn’t the main reason you should include him on your Bonnaroo schedule. He’s an enigmatic performer: sporting his signature wig of nails and flower bouquet-enshrouded microphone, he switches seamlessly from sharp raps to ear worm singing. There’s never a lapse in his on-stage energy, assurance that his early evening set on June 15 will provide a surefire pick-me-up to help push through the remainder of the marathon fest.

Read more: Teezo Touchdown, Tiana Major9 & More Were In Bloom At The 2024 GRAMMYs Emerging Artist Showcase 

Jake Wesley Rogers

Jake Wesley Rogers has come a tremendously long way from his first spotlight at age 15 on "America’s Got Talent" in 2012 (where he was eliminated). He supported Kesha on her Only Love Tour in 2023, and now he’s opening the main stage on the final day of Bonnaroo. 

The Missouri native’s rise to budding star, built upon four EPs and a handful of standalone singles, is well deserved. On stage, Rogers absolutely belts a soulful, goosebumps-inducing tenor, and he performs with all the glamorous energy of a young Elton John (even sporting similarly flamboyant sunglasses and climbing atop his piano while banging on the keys). Muster the energy to get on the field early after three days, or you might regret missing a pivotal moment for an artist who’s likely on his way to fest headliner status.

Read more: Tour Diary: See Jake Wesley Rogers' Favorite Photos & Memories From Touring With Panic! At The Disco 

Idles

For the past decade or so, post-punk has seen a significant resurgence, and on the surface it may appear that England’s Idles are one of the bands leading the charge, but they’ve staunchly rejected the descriptor. Vocalist Joe Talbot said it directly in a recent interview with British daily newspaper the Times: “We’re not a punk band.”

There’s ample evidence of that on their fifth album, 2023’s Tangk, which delves into new sonic territory with songs like “Dancer,” where the band mixed in elements of art-pop via collaboration with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and Nancy Whang. Backtrack to third album Ultra Mono (released in 2020 at the height of the pandemic) and you’ll hear that they were already veering away from the punk rock mold with distinct elements of hip-hop and other styles on songs like “Grounds.”

All that said, their shows resonate with the in-your-face energy of punk rock, yet they stand out significantly among other bands of the genre by exuding an overwhelmingly positive, unifying spirit. Many fans have described their show as something akin to church, and with the group at the top of their game and at a festival that already historically proliferates such a mindset, their Bonnaroo appearance on June 15 is certain to be one for the books. 

Read more: IDLES Chatter With Joe Talbot: How The British Rockers Get Personal, Political & Festival Filthy 

Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan is having a major moment. The 26-year-old electro-pop singer/songwriter (real name: Kayleigh Rose Amstutz) immediately became a viral sensation when she dropped her song “Die Young” on YouTube at age 17. Now — after releasing debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess (a nod to her Missouri origins) in 2023 and opening for Olivia Rodrigo on her Guts World Tour earlier this year — she’s become one of the most anticipated artists at 2024 festivals nationwide.

Roan, which Amstutz equates to a sex-positive drag persona, performs with supreme professionalism, and her ability to deliver pristine vocals while exhibiting unerring athleticism (high kicks aplenty) proliferates non-stop audience engagement. Her fans are diehards who belt out every word, and with a relatively small platform at Bonnaroo in a tent on June 16, she’s sure to draw one of the most overflowing audiences of the weekend. If you wanna get anywhere close to the stage (and you should), make sure to arrive early.

Read more: Chappell Roan's Big Year: The 'Midwest Princess' Examines How She Became A Pop "Feminomenon" 

Four Tet

It’s almost a disservice that electronic musician/producer Four Tet is slated for a late afternoon/early evening set at Bonnaroo, a couple of hours before sunset. His hypnotic and experimental yet highly danceable compositions lend themselves to a late-night performance packed with spellbinding lights cutting through the darkness to illuminate the pulsating crowd. 

On the other hand, he boasts a legendary reputation for live sets, plus a prolific catalog that spans more than 20 years and 12 studio albums, including this year’s Three. As a whole, it's a discography that can cater to not only electronica fanatics, hip-hop heads (note his many collaborations with Madlib) and experimental enthusiasts. To boot, there’s potential for some special moments during his appearance on June 16. Four Tet has previously played alongside the final night’s headliner Fred again.., so the potential for that guest spot alone might make it even more worth it to prioritize his performance. 

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More