BINDERY: Gina Arnold / Half A Million Strong: Crowds and Power from Woodstock to Coachella

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 7:30pm

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.



“At a moment when music festivals proliferate as both music and marketing phenomena, Gina Arnold deftly explores their fascinating history in this compulsively readable book. Arnold, as always, writes conversationally, as if she’s actively thinking on the page—generating fresh ideas as they occur to her and following them in previously unexplored directions. That excites the reader’s own thinking—and makes this book inspiring and a great, welcome pleasure.” – Anthony DeCurtis, author, Lou Reed: A Life 


“Half a Million Strong tracks the rapid rise of the festivalization of music, and outlines what it means to truly love and live through music and to be in community with other people who do too. With this book, Arnold offers a very necessary examination of just how we got here, as well as a rich, accessible history that is mandatory reading for anyone who has ever spent a day in a muddy field screaming along with their favorite band.” – Jessica Hopper, author, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic 


“From audience reactions to Dylan going electric at Newport in 1965 to Wattstax in Los Angeles in 1972 to the lost U.S. Festival in the 1980s and beyond, Gina Arnold’s wonderful individual take on what being at a rock festival means offers new insights by focusing not on the stage, but on us, the festival-going crowd.” – George McKay, University of East Anglia 


“A much-needed, well-observed reevaluation of rock-and-roll audiences from a writer with decades in the trenches. An illuminating, historically informed conversation-starter for anyone with a stake in a live music community.” – Jesse Jarnow, author, Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America 



Gina Arnold is a former rock journalist and the author of Liz Phair’s Exile in GuyvilleKiss 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. 



Please note: This event will be at The Bindery, 1727 Haight. 


This is an all ages event. The bar opens at 7, event begins at 7:30pm.


RSVP appreciated but not required


If you cannot attend the event but would like to requeset a signed copy of Half a Million Strong, and/or any of Gina's books, order below and put your request in the comments field.

Half a Million Strong: Crowds and Power from Woodstock to Coachella (New American Canon) By Gina Arnold Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609386085
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: University Of Iowa Press - November 15th, 2018

Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media By Gina Arnold (Editor), Daniel Cookney (Editor), Kirsty Fairclough (Editor) Cover Image
By Gina Arnold (Editor), Daniel Cookney (Editor), Kirsty Fairclough (Editor)
ISBN: 9781501313912
Availability: Out of Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - August 10th, 2017

Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville (33 1/3) By Gina Arnold Cover Image
ISBN: 9781441162571
Availability: Out of Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Academic - May 22nd, 2014