The Watershed Music Festival at the Gorge in George, Wash., sold out within 10 minutes of on-sale yesterday. Over 25,000 three day passes were sold for the third annual music and camping festival on August 1-3 with a lineup of Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, Jake Owen, Billy Currington, Eli Young Band, Joe Diffie, Randy Houser, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Cassadee Pope, Eli Young Band, Chase Rice, Dallas Smith and more.
The quick sellout provides further support that country is the most explosive genre in the festival space. "The fans for this festival, or 'shedders,' as we call them, came out in full force," says festival founder Brian O'Connell, president of Live Nation Country Touring, in a statement. "Our website actually crashed for a bit, we got everything up and running again, but the response has been overwhelming, to say the least. Every year we strive to make the festival the best we can for both the fans and artists, I think we're on our way to making this the craziest hillbilly sleepover ever."
Watershed was the first country fest launched in O'Connell's mission to launch 10 country fests in 10 years. Live Nation debuted Faster Horses in Brooklyn, Mich., last year, and multiple sources say a country fest on New York’s Governors Island in 2014 will be next. O’Connell wasn’t ready to confirm Governors Island in a recent Billboard interview, but stands by the “10 in 10” goal. “This is year three at Watershed, year two at Faster Horses,” he says, “so you’ve got to figure I have something up my sleeve for this year.”
O'Connell says sales for Faster Horses are running about 50 percent ahead of last year. "Growing a festival with a funny name is about trust and patience," he says. "I'm learning both!"
Live Nation saw a 50% increase in its country business in 2013, for a total of 7 million fans. “Country’s a big outdoor party right now,” O'Connell says. “We’ve got a lot of acts, and the music that’s being produced is conducive to the outdoor experience."