News: No Mile High Music Festival in 2011

The Mile High Music Festival will not bring the rock this summer.

The annual event will take a hiatus in 2011, promoter AEG Live plans to announce this morning. The two-day festival brought the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Tool, Jack Johnson, Widespread Panic and others to its Commerce City festival site over the last three years.

AEG is citing economic reasons for the break.

“It was not an easy decision to put the festival on hold,” said Chuck Morris, president of AEG Live’s local offices. “We are really proud of the event, and we’re not ruling out the possibility of bringing it back in the future.”


The news of Mile High’s hiatus comes less than a month after three high-profile sell-outs at other North American music festivals, including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, another AEG Live event.

The southern California-rooted Coachella sold 75,000 three-day passes in five days last month — a record for the mid-April event. Other record-setting 2011 sell-outs include Miami’s electronic-heavy Ultra Music Festival and central Washington’s Sasquatch Festival, which moved 50,000 and 25,000 multi-day passes, respectively.

But big numbers for more established music festivals aren’t a signal of automatic success for everybody else. Many promoters are still reeling from last year’s lackluster concert numbers. And for a youthful festival like Mile High, finding a successful musical fit for your location is a challenge, said Steve Knopper, a Denver-based Rolling Stone editor and author of music industry tome “Appetite for Self-Destruction.”

“If you took Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon and Kanye West and stuck them at the Mile High Music Festival in Denver, I’m not sure you’d sell out that festival,” said Knopper, referencing the headliners that helped sell out this spring’s Coachella. “Maybe it’s an issue of not having the right act? Maybe if Phish were available this summer the problem would be solved? I don’t know.”

Mile High tried experimenting with its booking — with radio-ready Johnson, jam band Panic, prog rockers Tool, piano popsters the Fray, heritage rocker Petty and live hero Matthews, who headlined the event twice (in 2008 and 2010). But the line-ups produced mixed results for the promoter.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.