Doctor Music Festival Canceled After Move From Mountain Pastures to Barcelona Racetrack

Julian Casablancas of The Strokes
Matthew Baker/Getty Images

Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs during the All Points East Festival at Victoria Park on May 25, 2019 in London.

The Strokes, Smashing Pumpkins, Chemical Brothers and Rosalía were among the canceled festival’s headliners.

A cow’s head is the logo of the Doctor Music festival, a pastoral gathering which took place in Catalunya’s Pyrenees Mountains from 1996-98, attracting large crowds with artists including David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith and Aphex Twin.

Dreams of reviving the mythic festival with a 2019 line-up that included The Strokes, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Chemical Brothers and King Crimson have now been dashed. Organizers canceled the July 12-14 festival with an announcement on Thursday (June 13) that the event has been called off due to low ticket sales and refunds the festival was forced to issue for previously purchased festival passes.

The back story? Doctor Music organizers sought to bring the festival back big time, with a powerful and eclectic line-up that also included Rosalía, James Murphy, Kamasi Washington, Jimmy Cliff and The Good, The Bad & The Queen. The “Reincarnation Edition” was to take place on the bucolic site of the festival’s past success, in Escalarre, in Catalunya’s Lleida province. But after tickets went on sale last December, environmentalists raised concerns about bringing up to 40,000 people into the rural area, citing the potential for contaminating water sources and causing excessive light pollution (in addition to more obvious noise issues in the usually tranquil zone).

Those protests, most crucially concerning the delicate ecosystem on land in a flood-prone area, were backed up by a decision by the Catalan Water Agency, denying the organizers the permits needed to carry out the festival.

Organizers were forced into a radical change of venue: a racetrack on the outskirts of Barcelona. The new location, the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit in Montmeló, was announced in April. The majority of ticket holders, not pleased that their verdant festival paradise was being switched out for be a paved motorcycle track, subsequently requested refunds, according to a statement from the organizers, which further explained that the festival was no longer sustainable under the circumstances.

“The purpose of the Doctor Music Festival has always been to offer attendees a large-scale festival with a top level international standard of musical and organizational quality,” according to a statement. “Without the presence of a numerous audience it was not going to be possible to realize this dream.

"Today, the Doctor Music Festival is canceled,” the organizers added. “But the spirit of the cow lives on.”

Ticketholders can find refund information on the festival web site.


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