When the Dave Matthews Band -- a the kingpin of outdoor concerts -- can't save your festival, then you know it's time put away the guitars and Frisbees.
The 10,000 Lakes Festival, a multi-day staple for rock fans for the past seven Julys in Detroit Lakes, Minn., will take a hiatus in 2010.
"It was an artistic triumph, but the show doesn't pay for itself," said founder Randy Levy, a longtime Minneapolis promoter.
The $4 million, 50-band festival drew about 15,000 to see Dave Matthews Band on July 25, Levy said, but fewer people attended on the other nights headlined by Wilco and Widespread Panic.
Previous 10KLF festivals have featured diverse lineups, including the Allman Brothers, Trey Anastasio, the Roots, Leo Kottke, Gov't Mule, Buckethead and John Mayer.
Although 10,000 Lakes "survived financially" from 2005 to 2007, Levy said during the past two years his Upper Midwest event was hurt by the bad economy as well as competition from similar but bigger festivals in Michigan (Rothbury) and Colorado (Mile High).
"Those festivals were not [financially] successful this year, either," said Levy, who also promotes country's 27-year-old We Fest in Detroit Lakes as well as the 15-year-old, rock-oriented Warped Tour and the 2-year-old Soundset indie hip-hop event in the Twin Cities. "With the economy, people travel less. It was tough for the festival business. But the lower-priced festivals like Warped and Soundset totally worked this year."
Levy said he hasn't given up on 10,000 Lakes Fest: "If I see the opportunity, I'm going to try to do it again. If the economy turns and we get more classically commercial with someone like Tom Petty or Bob Dylan, I'd consider doing it."
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719