Khruangbin, HAIM, The Roots, Sheryl Crow, The Flaming Lips and Gary Clark Jr. are among the headliners for The Big Climate Thing: Concert for People and the Planet, a festival dedicated to climate change to take place at Forest Hills Stadium in New York City Sept. 16-18. Courtney Barnett, Princess Nokia, Antibalas, Guster, Seratones, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Valerie June and more are already on board, with additional artists to be added in the coming weeks.
Produced by Climate Control Projects, The Big Climate Thing features an eclectic, multi-generational lineup of artists and programming, immersive on-site activations, and curated content. Its goal is to raise “awareness, accountability and action” around the global climate crisis and inspire real-time solutions by connecting concertgoers through “the transformative power of music,” according to a statement.
Climate Control Projects was founded by a group of music industry vets and activists in 2020 to work within popular culture to promote not just awareness but meaningful action around climate change.
In addition to The Big Climate Thing festival, CCP produces content and events that that engage and connect mainstream audiences on a personal level to the climate crisis, and includes among its projects The Big Climate Lab and the upcoming launch of the BigUp mobile app.
Climate Control Projects CEO Kurt Langer just returned to the U.S. from London, where he was a presenter and helped program Overheated, a seminar for climate activists, music industry leaders and artists including co-founder Billie Eilish, which took place at The O2 during Eilish’s recent tour stop there.
The Big Climate Thing is just the “the first step in a conversation” with the public about climate change, Langer tells Pollstar. In addition to music, there will be speakers – and not just the usual celebrity spokespeople. And the festival itself differs from typical festivals in many important ways.
“We’re definitely communicating the issue of climate change through first-person storytelling, from the people who are affected. And we’ll be doing that with speakers,” Langer says. “When you take a festival, you think of like the great ones, like Coachella and Bonnaroo. And, you know, these are giant outdoor multi-stage events. We’re in a place that’s a single stage. It’s not 100,000 people in a field. It’s 14,000 people and a preexisting structure.”
Langer emphasizes that one need not be a scientist or politician to take action on climate.
“Our lives are at stake and if we wait for others to solve this, we’re doomed. The good news is that while climate change seems complex, solutions are quite simple and achievable. We need to reimagine what the world could be, and then align our lifestyles with that vision.
“We need to lean into our creativity and love for one another and build community around that ethos. The Big Climate Thing is our way of building that type of community with the artists who are performing and with the audiences who are ready to answer the call. It doesn’t even feel like activism, and yet it’s the most impactful thing we can do.”
Langer is aware that festivals and concert tours are not the most eco-friendly endeavors. But they aren’t going away and the least we can do as producers and audiences is mitigate the effects of big gatherings. He says Michael Luba at Madison House, which is co-producing The Big Climate Thing, has taken a 100-plus-year-old venue at Forest Hills Stadium and reimagined it in a way that is modern, green and yet didn’t require a tear-down or reconstruction of the existing building.
The Big Climate Thing will also be interactive, with the BigUp app providing a virtual counterpart to the festival, creating a place “where artists and audiences, creators and consumers can converge in a non-judgmental community to take action on climate change. Included in a user’s feed will be hints, nudges, challenges, inspirational content and measurable goals that connect personal interests to simple actions that can have sustained impact,” he says.
Climate Control Projects is also working to establish The Big Climate Lab with a team of live music veterans, research scientists and sustainability experts to determine a set of transformative industry goals.