Most music festival organizers see the first year as a learning curve. Coachella’s 1999 debut didn’t come close to selling out, and it wasn’t brought back the following year. It wasn’t until 2002 that the festival began to really take shape.
Last year’s New York debut of the Modern Sky Festival also faced challenges, from bad weather to scheduling issues, including headliner Cat Power’s set being cut short.
But rather than retreat, Modern Sky, which began in China and aims to bring together Chinese and Western cultures, has ambitious growth plans. This year’s edition will feature Yoko Ono, Gang of Four and Chinese acts including Song Dongye and Hedgehog.
amNewYork spoke with Michael LoJudice, general manager of Modern Sky Intl.
What are you doing differently in the festival’s second year?
We’re super lucky we got Yoko Ono to be on the bill. Last year, all the Chinese bands went on first. … This year, we’re Western [artist], Chinese [artist], Western, Chinese. We’re also going to be adding different things to the venue.
Why did you cut the festival from two days to one?
We’re also doing a festival in Seattle and Helsinki [this year]. … Probably next year in New York, we’ll do a bigger, outdoor multistage festival.
What went right and wrong last year?
The rain wasn’t great. The scheduling of the artists, having all the Chinese artists play first, then the Western artists. The assumption was that [the Western artists] were bigger here in New York. … What we found out was that tons of Chinese people came, more so than any other group. They came to see the Chinese bands for the most part. When they stopped playing, a lot of people left.
Is your vision to have other Modern Sky Festivals running across the United States?
We had looked at L.A., San Francisco and Chicago for this year. … That’s the plan for next year. We’re also working on something in Sao Paulo, London and Paris, different cities where we have partners or they have a strong Chinese community.
If you go: Modern Sky Festival NYC, Sunday, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at 69th Street and Fifth Ave., rain or shine, 2-8:30 p.m., $48