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Music festivals unite artists, fans

By Rosemary Jean-Louis
CNN Headline News

No Doubt
No Doubt performed at 2003's Wango Tango Music festival.
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(CNN) -- There is a world where Janet Jackson, Jessica Simpson and American Idol celebrity reject William Hung headline the same show. That place is the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, California, at the Wango Tango Music festival.

The 12-hour event organized by Los Angeles radio stadio KIIS-FM and several corporate sponsors is one of the most prominent outdoor music festivals that kicks off the summer concert season. Big name pop stars proliferate the bill and they don't mind sharing the marquee.

Von Freeman, vice president of marketing and events for Clear Channel Radio Los Angeles, says the mega-concert is great promotional vehicle for the artists. "They see it as a way to introduce new music to (over 75,000) fans," he says. The short sets, which average about 45 minutes, also enable music stars to run through their biggest hits.

Music fans benefit from these outdoor music festivals too. Some of the events often assemble a diverse cast of musicians that fans are privileged to see for the cost of one major act.

At Music Midtown, a three-day festival held in Atlanta, audiences sampled the music from big names such as Courtney Love, Big Boi from Outkast and the Foo Fighters.

But festival organizers learned you couldn't please every taste in music all the time. Some Music Midtown attendees complained the artist selection wasn't diverse enough. Others wanted to see more obscure performers rather than the household names.

With several acts performing on soundstages simultaneously, glitches were inevitable. Funk master George Clinton landed in Atlanta 10 minutes before his scheduled performance, pushing back his show by nearly an hour.

Sound problems persisted throughout R&B artist Musiq's set. But some musicians didn't need technical difficulty or travel problems to turn their shows into water cooler fodder.

Courtney Love gave audiences something to talk about by flashing her breasts several times and inviting an audience member to sing along with her, then telling her to pipe down when the audience member didn't know the words of the song.

Wango Tango festival organizers have contended with their own set of issues.

One year the sold out show was almost scrapped the day of the concert because the water at Dodgers stadium (the venue in 1999) was drained out because of a burst pipeline. After frantic calls to Los Angeles officials, the water was restored and the concert was delayed by only an hour.

Another year, show producers blew pounds of confetti on stage for several minutes for a set featuring Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, only to discover that the frontwoman was in the ladies room the entire time. The confetti soaked fans didn't seem to mind though when she finally appeared on stage.

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