The Bindery hosts Gina Arnold for the launch of her new book, Half a Million Strong: Crowds and Power from Woodstock to Coachella. Please join us!
From baby boomers to millennials, attending a big music festival has basically become a cultural rite of passage in America. In Half a Million Strong, music writer and scholar Gina Arnold explores the history of large music festivals in America and examines their impact on American culture. Studying literature, films, journalism, and other archival detritus of the countercultural era, Arnold looks closely at a number of large and well-known festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival, Woodstock, Altamont, Wattstax, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and others to map their cultural significance in the American experience. She finds that--far from being the utopian and communal spaces of spiritual regeneration that they claim for themselves-- these large music festivals serve mostly to display the free market to consumers in its very best light.
Gina Arnold is a former rock journalist and the author of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, Kiss This: Punk in the Present Tense, and Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana. She is coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock. Arnold teaches rhetoric and media studies at the University of San Francisco.