He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free”
This weekend the Minus Zero Festival comes to Mount Snow and the Deerfield Valley. Billed as a “winter sports and music festival” Minus Zero is expected to draw as many as 10,000 fans of electronic dance music to the mountain.
For many who are older, Minus Zero is a different musical experience than what they may remember from their concert-going days, and a bit of a mystery. What is it? Who are the musicians, DJs, and performance artists? Who does their music and art appeal to? Why haven’t I heard of any of this before?
Is Minus Zero a seminal event, as Woodstock was 50 years ago or Lollapalooza 25 years ago? Maybe, or maybe not. But does it matter? While certainly not Woodstock in size, scale, and impact, it still is a music festival that in many ways can define a generation, or at least a segment of a generation. Those who will be here this weekend, like those before, come expecting an uplifting experience.
Of course, Minus Zero is nothing like Woodstock. This is the internet age, not the age of Aquarius. There will be no open fields with a half-million people spread out across them. There won’t be tents and microbuses and people freely sharing food, libations, sleeping bags, and whatever else they have. Instead, it will be Uber ride-shares, and people searching their phones for last minute rooms at an Airbnb or local inn. It’s boutique bars serving craft beers and VIP food spreads.
But at the core, a music festival is still a music festival. The performances will run from dawn to dusk and beyond, with music lovers united in the sounds pulsating from the stage, and the music can still be transformative.
“Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning”
Every generation has it’s defining musical moments. Only time will tell if they are fleeting, like Woodstock, or ongoing, like Lollapalooza. But what they both did was connect people through music and through experience. For Minus Zero attendees, the weekend is a chance to connect with a variety of people who are united in at least one thing, a love of music. We don’t see anything wrong with that.
We can’t say that Minus Zero is a counterculture event like Woodstock. In some ways, maybe. The performers don’t appear on top-40 music charts or classic rock channels. Ask anyone over 30 if they can name two songs by the headliners and chances are they won’t be able to. The event doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, so in today’s internet age how mainstream can it be? On the other hand, it is certainly a managed event, much like Lollapalooza or some of the other recurring music festivals around the world. It’s planned and programmed and includes lodging packages that can be purchased with a credit card.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people who attend enjoy their time in the valley, hear the music they want to hear, and feel connected to one another. After all, sometimes people just need to get outdoors, get back to the land, and set their souls free.
“We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
“Woodstock” lyrics by Joni Mitchell