Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The state of festivals today.

I went to my first music festival in 2002; back then a weekend at Reading Festival cost £90 for four days of entertainment and it was worth every penny. It was a great line-up (Foo Fighters, Muse, Feeder, The Prodigy, Incubus, NOFX, The White Stripes, Blues Explosion, Rival Schools, Aphex Twin… the list goes on) any modern day festival could only dream of a line-up full of acts that current and well established.

Fast forward a few years and Reading & Leeds boast what can only be described as an overpriced B-Festival. My Chemical Romance, bottled at previous years of playing Reading & Leeds and since have got more and more pop oriented - not the best choice to headline in my opinion. The Strokes who have done nothing in the last few years of note and are still living off the success of their first album (I am prepared to put money on them ending their set with ‘Last Night’). I’m not going to bore you by analysing the whole line-up, but as you look at all the bands playing, as with many other festivals this year they are either A) a rehash of festival line-ups from the past ten years, or B) just plain average. There is nothing really new for the festival goers to experience, so why then do the organisers feel they can charge through the roof???

I have had this argument with a few people recently; I think that £200 to go to an average weekend of music is ridiculous. Yes, I know if you wanted to go and see any of the headline bands separately it would cost £40-50 a go, but each of those concerts would be more intimate with better sound and a better atmosphere so that really is a non-argument for me. I also understand that if you see 50 bands over the weekend it works out at £4 per band, however the majority will only play for 20 minutes and to be honest, 50 bands over the weekend is near impossible unless you cut watching each acts set short. There is no way that £200 is justifiable and all it is doing it making it harder for ‘average earners’ to buy tickets.

Tell me I’m wrong if you want, but this is now being shown by the speed of ticket sales. Every year there is a rush to buy festival tickets with the major players such as Reading & Leeds, V Festival and Glastonbury selling out in a matter of minutes. Reading & Leeds tickets went on sale a couple of weeks ago and I can still get a weekend ticket or any day ticket now. I received an email from them last night explaining there are now four month payment plans in place to spread the cost of the festival, something that I have noticed with a few events this year. They are clearly starting to get worried that with the extortionate prices and same old bands they will have a half empty field come August bank holiday weekend, and so they should be. I have a horrible feeling that unless these festival organisers pull their finger out and organise a decent weekend of music, or at least drop their prices, this could be the beginning of the end for some of the most famous and well respected summer festivals in the world.

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