Published on May 30th, 2011 | by Miserable Bastard
‘Tis the season to be miserable
I’ve been gone for a while, folks. That’s right, he who seems to have enough time on his hands to rant about anything that’ll get in his way but not enough to actually do anything about the situation actually does work and leaves the house and interacts in social situations, no matter what Professor Greens 15 year old fans would’ve had you believe in the aftermath of my post last year dissecting his lyrics and explaining exactly why the track was sonic vermin. And it’s no coincidence that my return hits just as festival season is dropping. I know not one of you made that assumption but I thought I’d lay it out on a platter like a tray of dirty carrots for the mule-minded readers that we (I) know you can be. So here’s what’s proverbially been tugging at my testicles like a goddamn rottweiler who thinks I’ve got something to hide down there?!
While several new and great festivals are growing in number like a catholic gypsy family and older festivals that are outwith the “main” festival circuit are growing stronger and stronger, there are still loads out there that are being rammed back into the ground like the moles in my garden that I see off with my shovel when I grow weary of their blind little faces…they never see it coming. Boom boom, yeah, he told a joke, let’s get on with the fucking article, shall we?!
So where are these festivals going wrong? Why is it that these would-be organisers are finding a great venue, some amazing bands to play, keeping ticket prices reasonable as to see sales are still seeing their festival being pushed to the side like a geriatric in a riot as late as a couple of days before it’s due to go ahead?! Well there are many factors here at play, ranging from potentially fatal weather conditions (for which we can blame nothing but a vengeful god who likes to piss down his mighty power upon us just as we’re finally about to have fun in this – let’s face it – broken jaw of a British summer we face every single year) to local residents.
When a festival gets cancelled, or doesn’t even receive the go-ahead, because the residents of the surrounding area believe that people from “the big city” are gonna come in, rock out to them playing that tune from Deliverance before requesting they play it time and time again, vomit on their gardens, shit in the vegetable patches and fight each other in the street before they fuck the hell back off to from whence they did come then we have a problem. Look at all major festivals – they’re planted in massive farms while the cows and whatever other tasty animals normally live in the area are sent elsewhere for a couple of weeks, like it were some morbid final holiday before they returned to their green, landscapery Dignitas, where they will spend their final days before reaching a dignified death behind closed doors, and the surrounding areas see a massive boost in pretty much everything, including income, population and conversations with interesting people that don’t live within the same street that everyone they know lives and with whom they have absolutely fart all to talk about. In fact, every year around festival season, we’re bored with the fact about how Glastonbury becomes one of the biggest towns in Britain with the additional 100k+ people it attracts annually, many of which will be pumping money into the festival, which in turn puts money into the local councils pockets and benefits everyone in the area. “Oh but we’ll end up paying for extra police”. Shut the total and utter fuck up before I make your mouth a thing of the past – this shit is all budgeted for. Essentially, by saying that you don’t want a festival in your area, what your selfish twat mouth is saying is not that you think it’ll ruin the area, just that you can’t be arsed with the extra number of people in your town.
Likewise, though, there can be a full council totally dedicated to preventing a festival from going ahead, which has far more weight than one or two people who hate the thought of boosting their local economy. When a council is against hosting a festival, though, you have some serious questions to ask; particularly, what exactly is it about your town that you hate so much that you want to see it go down in history as the land equivalent of Jade Goody, something that kept itself on the ground despite having no discernible qualities and racist tendencies?! This happened with a small Scottish town a couple of years ago and today, the town is still know for having some form of attraction that no one goes to since no one can really remember what it is. Instead, this bowel of a town could have, for one glorious weekend at least, turned into an attractive place where people would go and give the shops, hotels and local acts some money while the place itself could add something to its CV; instead, on the “things to do section” of the site, all it does is list islands that you can sail to from there.
Sponsorship is also an issue – it’s not cheap organising a festival, nor can it be done in a few hours; aside from finding a suitable location for the event and finding a few decent acts who will pull in the numbers, you need to look at hiring stages and tents; you need to look at staff; you need to organise licenses, food and drink vendors; you need to make sure everything is complying with not only UK law but local rules too. Essentially, it’d be cheaper and quicker to fly over to Thailand, go on a tour of transsexual prostitutes throughout the country over a couple of weeks before returning to see a rectum trauma specialist than to start up a small festival from scratch, and it doesn’t help that bands who receive fees of ¬£500 and upwards tend to stipulate that they be paid a 50% deposit upfront, which they keep whether the festival or not the festival goes ahead. Again, the case has been over the past many years that many festivals have managed to attract one or more suitable companies who see this as a worthwhile investment opportunity. Sadly, companies like this can sometimes pull out of the project at pretty much any time they wish to do so, leaving the organiser standing there like a a naked geek who’s expecting sex but is instead about to have pictures of his tiny little penis distributed all over the internet. This case is a total cock cake since it can leave the organiser as fucked as a female Chihuahua in an all-male kennel during mating season since they may have already paid non-refundable deposits, which can ruin them financially and naturally deplete any inspiration to host the festival themselves in future. But what the fuck do these companies need for them to stand by their outwardly public shit?! When Glasto started up, only 1500 people went – now you can expect to pay anywhere of ¬£5k upwards to have a stall in there as they look to flog their low quality clothes and rat burgers to thousands of drunks who know if they don’t spend their money as quickly as possible, they’re just going to lose it while walking about at 4am looking for drugs.
Lastly comes the point which is summed up so perfectly by one of the best festival acts cutting around just now (now that they’ve got short of Johnny Marr) The Cribs with their song title ‘Our Bovine Public’. There’s a tendency to fear festivals unless they have tonnes of chart topping acts in the mix and with no one way for independent bands to push themselves on to the kind of people that listen to nothing other than daytime Radio 1 and have no desire to seek out new talent that isn’t endorsed by Fearne “Everyone Is My Friend And Everyone Loves Me” Cotton, it’s only festivals with national and international financial backing that will succeed. Hell, even Radio 1, who claim to be the face of new music, despite only this year really taking the time out to play non-chart acts on daytime radio 1 in January this year, in the first week of the year, a week which normally plays pre-recorded shows or music on a continuous loop as no-one tunes in since they’re too busy fitting in as much booze and turkey as they can before they return to work, don’t even give these bands ample airtime during and after The Big Weekend, instead opting to continue spewing Lady Gaga all over our TV and radio, despite the fact that she could live, tour and record forever on her personal money.
But why am I so angry about all of this? Not because I feel like there’s not enough choice for festival-goers in the UK – check out an extensive guide of festivals in the country and you’ll see that there are hundreds, ranging from the monstrous Glasto down to boutique one day events that hold only a few hundred. No, it’s because festivals are a catalyst for small acts for several reasons; not only are bands put in front of a larger crowd than they’d pull at any headline show they’d play and their name is seen by many, many more people in the advertising and listings of the festival and a name can stick in a persons head, meaning the publicity from this alone can be enough to raise bands fees and profiles throughout the country but because the fees that bands can expect from this can heavily outweigh those they receive for any touring or one-off shows throughout the country; we’ve all heard the rumour that Prodigy received ¬£1m to headline both Leeds and Reading dates several years ago. At a time when they would’ve been headlining 5000-8000 capacities on a ¬£25 ticket (estimates, don’t fucking bother grilling me if I’m slightly out), do you really think they’d be getting ¬£500k per show? It would take a suicidal show promoter to put on a gig for those figures. Anyway, the point remains the same for smaller bands – while they may receive ¬£100 to play a show in their hometown, they could easily receive ¬£500+ to play a festival, which can be put into touring, merchandise and other ways of getting themselves known and pulling in revenue. And it’s not only the fee that helps, the royalties generated from this can even overshadow the fee received, which together could be the difference between a band affording to record an album or head out on the road or not – from experience, I know a few bands whose PRS statements showed a total of ¬£700+ for playing a 30 minute set on the smallest stage at a major festival. And when a band are taking in ¬£1k for a festival appearance when they’re still on the road playing venues hundreds of miles away for ¬£50 and beer, yet they’re only seeing a couple of hundreds of pounds a year in radio royalties and record sales, if you’re holding back any form of festival which can flourish and allow independent acts to do the same, you’re killing smaller acts more than illegal downloading.
What’s your view? Let us know in the comments section below…