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The Killers and Beck to head up second Evolution Festival at Forest Park in September

Music fans gathered at Forest Park for the inaugural Evolution Festival over the weekend.
Sam Shapiro Media
The inaugural Evolution Festival in 2023 drew 25,000 concertgoers across two days. The event returns in September.

Updated at 12:43 p.m. with addition information from festival organizers.

The Evolution Festival will return to St. Louis Sept. 28-29, bringing a large-scale music event to Forest Park for the second year.

Headliners are The Killers, who will be on a greatest-hits tour after calling off a new album originally planned for release this year, and shape-shifting tunesmith Beck. Evolution is one of the few concert dates currently listed on Beck’s schedule for the year.

Organizers said the inaugural Evolution festival drew 25,000 concertgoers across two days last year. It was the first music event of its scale in Forest Park since the much-loved LouFest folded after its 2017 concerts.

The 2024 lineup also includes Jane’s Addiction, Blondie, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Killer Mike, Elle King, Todd Rundgren and Son Volt. The festival is adding a third stage to accommodate its growth from 18 to 28 performers.

“It is a rock-heavy lineup this year. But we have new wave, we have disco, we have funk, we have soul, we have hip hop, we have folk,” festival booker Jeff Jarrett said. “Next year it could be heavier in the hip hop category, it could heavier in the R&B category — you just never know. But in terms of the festival landscape rock, is something that everyone is focused on this year.”

The Evolution Festival will return to Forest Park’s Langenberg Field, located between the Dwight Davis Tennis Center and the Boathouse at Forest Park. The closest access by public transit is the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Metro stop.

The festival announcement promises “music, cuisine, art and spirits” — including food from St. Louis chefs — but makes no specific reference to bourbon or barbecue, items that organizers cited alongside music as the defining elements of last year’s event. Audiences last year asked for more beer from local brewers and a more diverse selection of food, Litvag said. Vendors who would like to sell food, drink or merchandise at Evolution Festival may submit applications now.

Steve Schankman of Contemporary Productions and Joe Litvag of the Just Listen Company are again co-producing the festival.. Schankman has decades of experience promoting concerts in and around St. Louis, though Evolution was his first homegrown festival. Litvag, who learned the business while working with Schankman, has founded more than a dozen festivals in the U.S.

The inaugural festival ran smoothly, though its opening day was temporarily delayed by heavy rains and nearby lightning strikes. Organizers reported no serious injuries at the late-August event, and a representative from Forest Park Forever deemed it a success.

Audience feedback from 2023 was positive, and the festival remains on track to continue as an annual event, Litvag said.

“You have to give the vision time to grow and build and have an audience that becomes loyal. And we have to earn that,”he said. “We have to earn that from the fans. We have to earn their trust, and you don’t accomplish all that in one year. You start in year one and you add to it in year two. So that’s where we’re focused.”

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.