Are festivals still about the music?

Image for Are festivals still about the music?

It’s a topic that has been bubbling up to a boil in the dance music community, and particularly here amongst inthemix users; are festivals still about the music? There are points to argue both sides of that topic but we’ve decided to engage and explore it following a recent study of festival-goers over in the UK conducted by the Association of Independent Festivals, which found that the answer was a rather emphatic ‘no’.

The data suggests that while festivals are more popular than ever amongst ticket buyers in the UK, music is playing an increasingly diminished role for punters at festivals. More than half of those surveyed said that they’re attracted to festivals for the “general atmosphere and overall vibe, quality and character of the event”. This goes up against the minority of festival-goers – 28.3% to be exact – who chose to attend festivals for “the music” alone. Ranking even further below, the study found that festival headliners only held sway over about 11% of punters and their decisions to buy tickets, which is a pretty startling figure.

So how does this relate to Australia and the dance music festival circuit here? Well obviously it’s a very different kettle of fish in Australia with less festivals and a smaller population to attend them, but as an editor of inthemix for the past year I’ve personally noted a rising concern directed towards the ballooning growth of festivals, with readers suggesting that the big music events are becoming overrun by those people unconcerned by the music or even which artists are playing, attending festivals for purely social reasons instead.

In our recent feature, What’s Gone Wrong With Our Clubs?, we spoke with industry players and punters alike about the state of the Australian club scene and festivals in 2010 and received some particularly illuminating responses. Many of those interviewed shared the sentiment that some overly superficial motives have washed over festival audiences.

“There seems to be some discontentment with festivals generally,” Rise resident Simon Barwood offered. “The bigger they get the more generic they become and so the less appealing they are to people interested in the music rather than the ‘event’.”

So what does this mean for festival experiences? Is that afore mentioned majority of festival-goers who can’t tell the difference between Carl Craig and Carl Cox and who are, broadly speaking, going to festivals to engage in a combination of getting fucked up/ picking up/being seen destroying whatever is left of an ‘authentic’ festival culture? It’s difficult to say, and I certainly can’t offer a definitive answer myself and I’m really writing this to foster discussion on an issue I think affects every reader of this site whether you’re orange or otherwise.

There can’t be any question that at any single dance music festival these days you’ll find swarms of punters seemingly more concerned with keeping their hair looking just right than having a dance to DJ that’s smashing it. But I don’t know if this is indeed the death knell that we’re hearing. I’d say that it’s worthwhile to consider that festival organisers can use this ‘atmosphere’ focused mentality to everyone’s benefit, even real music fans. Hear me out. By knowing that a bulk of tickets will presumably sell regardless of the music on offer and for that great ‘atmosphere’ alone, bookers can theoretically throw some bank around on up and coming acts to appeal to the chin-strokers out there. For the We Love Sounds / Winter Sound System partnership, promoters Sounds and Future Entertainment brought out underground favourites like The Revenge and Proxy leaving the main room crowds to Steve Aoki and Crookers. It’s a theory, anyway.

But indeed it would seem as though Australian festivals are adapting to the changing wills of crowds. Parklife organisers Fuzzy, perhaps sensing the not-guaranteed appeal of a big headliner – smartly spread the Parklife 2010 lineup with upcoming acts like Delorean, Classixx, Memory Tapes, Brodinski and Kele with a handful of higher-tier acts like Soulwax, Groove Armada and Missy Elliott. Arguably, that kind of lineup offers more to see and enjoy for the music fan whilst still providing that broad festival atmosphere.

Conversely, there are events on the Australian festival calendar where the lineup of artists purposely takes a back seat to the so termed “general atmosphere and overall vibe, quality and character of the event”. We need look no further than the initial announcement for the 2010 Subsonic festival, which despite boasting the names of Michael Mayer and Extrawelt prides itself on its secluded setting and atmosphere. Indeed, earlier in the month Australian punters saw the local arrival of beloved US bush-doof Burning Man, a festival renowned for its distinctly individual ‘experience’.

On the other side of the coin completely, we have already learned that this year’s Stereosonic festival, brought to us by the combined powers of Onelove and Hardware, will feature none other than Tiesto as the headliner. Locking in an international DJ that can sell out 20,000 capacity arenas by himself shows the festival promoters keen to buck the trend of declining headliner appeal and reassert the music and artists at the top of the festival experience.

So what do you think? Are Australian festivals still about the music? Or are the hordes of people going to the festivals just for the sake of, well, going and not for the music on offer ruining your experiences and the festivals themselves? How bad is it? Whatever your take on the state of festivals, we can probably all agree that we don’t want the Australian scene to head down a similar path of the gruesome Electric Daisy Carnival in LA. Let us know how you feel in the comments box below and thanks for reading.


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beyondandabove said on the 14th Jul, 2010

As someone who has been a festival goes for many many years now both here in oz and europe, across all genres of music, the culture has most definitely changed. The point of getting fucked up/picking up etc. is extremely valid which in a way is incredibly sad. I have vowed as i get older to never be one of those "back in my day" people but it can be quite challenging! I have found that there are still plenty of good times to be had and good artists to see at festivals and as such still attend them however my tastes have changed and what I am looking for at a festival have also changed so I have to just try a bit harder. There is a a worrying culture in music though that because something is popular it equals shit/sell out which I hate and anyone who's seen AVB or Tiesto will agree with me big dj's but still epic live. anywho that's my 2 cents


CircusMidget said on the 14th Jul, 2010

Yes, they are shit. Before long they will be selling showbags, and tiesto will parachute down onto the equestrian stage at your local horse racing track.


Vojo said on the 14th Jul, 2010

A big issue, even for myself is the push and pull of economies of scale versus a challenging array of artists. All Tommorrow's Parties was in Australia in 2009, great festival but it didn't make a profit.

Plus different branding/promoters' festivals have the all too same feel and experience.


Slice said on the 14th Jul, 2010

in england yes. but not here in sydney (apart from Days Like This might i add!). promoters are bandwagon jumpers who just mimic whoever else seems to be successful, at the expense of music. promoters should be pushing new music - not billing repeat acts every year or copying what the next festival is doing.

NB: no one does festivals quite like england does festivals. so much so that a festival in england doesn't have to be about the music necessarily.. it's about the "festival experience". festival promoters in england pay a lot of attention to detail which makes all the fun.


polite_society said on the 14th Jul, 2010

I do like festivals for the fact that frequently they'll manage to bring over half a dozen acts that probably wouldn't have toured in australia, or at least come to Perth otherwise. There have been plenty of festivals where i've spent the entire day at one of the smaller tents. I don't know if the crowd has really changed all that much, I still remember Big Day Out in 98/99 being full of idiots, it's just the type of idiots have evolved. Your typical aussie meathead festival punters are much more irritating in my opinion than the rowdy bogans of years past.

I still go for the music, and probably always will, and I need enough artists that I want to see before I will consider picking up a ticket. Much prefer when festivals pick up acts that either haven't been over here yet, or haven't been over for a few years, as opposed to the regular staple of guys that seem to be at every festival, every year.


ChemicalPunk1986 said on the 14th Jul, 2010

I fucking hate sydney crowds for one. Last time Erol Alkan (Parklife), Tiga(Sounds) and Felix Da Housecat(Sounds) played, they did not even get big cheers at the end. I was the only one yelling my head off, so frustrating. There should be a 'NAME 5 SONGS FROM EACH ARTIST' rule for every person who enters a festival in Sydney. FED UP! And dont even get me started on the calibre of people who attended the last FUTURE music Festival. Never seen so much scabby scum in my whole life.


camlv said on the 14th Jul, 2010

Yes they still are about music to some extent. I have seen shit/inappropriate clear many festival stages


camlv said on the 14th Jul, 2010

*shit/inappropriate DJs


walkdogz said on the 14th Jul, 2010

if there was no music ppl wouldn't be there so they're definitely still about the music. they're just also about other things now aswell but these new things aren't bad they're just what comes with increased popularity - that is more people and so more diversity of people.


CircusMidget said on the 14th Jul, 2010

The young crew don't know any different, they have missed out on what festivals used to be about.
The crowds are now dirty, ignorant, no respect for the people around them.
There used to be PLUR, now there is just DER


hydee said on the 14th Jul, 2010

festivals ended at 2007 parklife for me. Bummer


absolutmarie said on the 14th Jul, 2010

I still go for the music, definitely. I am a big trance head and will mostly go to big festivals for that.. I am really into electro etc. as well, but refuse to go to festivals here for those acts... at creamfields this year I broke this rule to see LMFAO, and regretted it. the crowds that go for these kinds of acts are usually the shitheaded 18 year old bogans that come in to get wasted and pick up, screechy, orange girls who won't stop screaming that they're the sikkest kunts and that everyone wants to be their friends..along with their meathead dumb boyfriends who won't stop pushing and shoving and starting shit to be cool. I find that crowds in the trance arena in both creamfields, sounds and of course godskitchen are much more friendly and respectful, they have come to enjoy the music and are usually a lot nicer than the kids who go to festivals just to get fucked up.

ravey davey

ravey davey said on the 14th Jul, 2010

The vibe/crowd at festivals has been going downhill for years now. Bring back the old days I say lol

Matthew de Groot

Matthew de Groot said on the 14th Jul, 2010

It all started with the fluro kids of '05.

Matthew de Groot

Matthew de Groot said on the 14th Jul, 2010

It all started with the fluro kids of '05.


redz81 said on the 14th Jul, 2010

I think it speaks for itself when festivals like Good Vibes sell tickets well prior to releasing the line up.


zozza2001 said on the 14th Jul, 2010

I would never buy a ticket without wanting to see the artists - what would be the value in spending that much $$! Having said that, I think it is tough to get an authentic festival experience anyway these days. Laneway was at first all about the music and everyone there was there exactly for that reason. Then the promoters got greedy, over sold it and you couldn't even get in to see the bands you paid to see anyway (before they moved it and made it massive like every other festival). Agree with Slice too - festivals should be bringing us the best new talent. I know it is tough for promoters, but maybe when they start being more about the music then punters will be too.


chico21 said on the 14th Jul, 2010

It's so true. The lineups aren't what they used to be too. They now seem to only have one or two really good acts as opposed to heaps. I must admit, a bit attraction to me attending a festival is the atmosphere. My first ever festival was Splendour in 05 and I was blown away but how friendly the crowd was. After going to Future this year (Prodigy were playing!) I was appalled by the crowd. Full of guys on roids just there to show off their massive muscles - it was foul. No one was interested in the music!! You've got so many 18 year olds who are just there for the scene, and to be seen in their tiny little outfits. Whereas when I first saw a festival - I was running from tent to tent trying to see every act I possibly could cos I was so excited about all the artists. Had nothing to do with picking up or being there to say I've been there!! And don't even get me started about the costs of festivals these days. Parklife more expensive then BDO?! Are you serious?!


chico21 said on the 14th Jul, 2010

It's so true. The lineups aren't what they used to be too. They now seem to only have one or two really good acts as opposed to heaps. I must admit, a bit attraction to me attending a festival is the atmosphere. My first ever festival was Splendour in 05 and I was blown away but how friendly the crowd was. After going to Future this year (Prodigy were playing!) I was appalled by the crowd. Full of guys on roids just there to show off their massive muscles - it was foul. No one was interested in the music!! You've got so many 18 year olds who are just there for the scene, and to be seen in their tiny little outfits. Whereas when I first saw a festival - I was running from tent to tent trying to see every act I possibly could cos I was so excited about all the artists. Had nothing to do with picking up or being there to say I've been there!! And don't even get me started about the costs of festivals these days. Parklife more expensive then BDO?! Are you serious?!


cthomson said on the 14th Jul, 2010

Festivals will always be about the music. Music brings people together, creates atmosphere and educates you. Without the music you have nothing. I have been to festivals where the line up is so incredible you spend every moment timed to perfection so you can catch Mark Ronson, Chicane and Prodigy all in a few hours. And then I've been to festivals where I move around as the music takes, spend half a day in one tent and the other half sprawled on the grass listening to a party bus take it away. I people watch, I meet tall dark strangers who put me on their sweaty shoulders, I line-up for the toilets for an hour and try not to laugh at the 18 year-olds who've forgotten their name and remember the days!! But it will always always be about the music. And there will be those people who come just for the music and who's euphoria for an amazing set create the atmosphere that lifts those who are there for the vibe.


ravelikespastic said on the 15th Jul, 2010

I definintly go for the music, the line determines how I will spend my day, which stage/arena etc. I guess most people I know do just go to 'look pretty' or 'make an appearance' But I genuinely go for the music.


CircusMidget said on the 15th Jul, 2010

it sounds like you go for the lines actually


RavinHard said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Brilliantly said cthomson.


JohnPanz said on the 15th Jul, 2010

I've stopped going to festivals, the last good festival I went to was Gatecrasher just outside of London where the lineup was incredible. I have pretty much restricted myself to going to gigs. The Likes Of You is always good, its like a mini indoor festival and everybody is there for the music. Everybody actually faces the DJ.

cause and effect

cause and effect said on the 15th Jul, 2010

The festivals are not what they used to be period. The festivals are to commercial and cater for to much of a wide and young audience. Many of the girls and guys that go dont know anything about the music or the DJ and dont appreciate the music and simply go to get messed.


jamesfrancis said on the 15th Jul, 2010

For me its definitely all about the music, but for most I would say its about being seen there and getting fucked up. Dont get me wrong I like to have a good time and have my fair share of chemicals, but never to the point where I make a complete ass of myself and ruin other peoples festival experience!!! The only good thing to come from the overly commercial lineups are the fact that most of the dick head steroid boy orange girl idiot crowd will attend the main stage for the full day, and let the music lovers enjoy there smaller tents with the underground artistes relatively stress free!!! "This tent is shit, lets go and see David Guetta" ha ha ha, never thought I would say this, but thank you David!!! TLOY stage for the win ;)


primus said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Soundwave. best festival I've been to in the last 5 years easily. Dance crews could learn something from this. not oversold, easy access to bars, and the quality of the music on every single stage was 100%. no fillers, no ring-ins. Its always about the music and music is awesome with a beer in your hand.


foofydoops said on the 15th Jul, 2010

When festivals these days practically strip search you (aka Good Vibes gold coast 2010) before you get in there something has definitely gone wrong. Thanks to young kids bringing in loads of drugs and drink, festivals have to turn nasty and in turn treat their loyal patrons like cattle.

its a shame, i love music and festivals should be about the music.


realkirill said on the 15th Jul, 2010

festivals are great, i can pick up, get on the googs and listen to electro


Groovecat said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Festivals feel ike they are being ruined by both the organisers and the people that go just to say they are.

Organisers tend to ruin them these days by increasing the amount of acts on the line up to try and sell those few more tickets, but then you are unable to see every act that you want to sometimes. You can also experience being shut out of certain areas because they are too full and become closed or cordoned off. They also get ruined by the tickets system for drinks. I hate lining up twice to pay for one item. Creamfields Perth was a recent example of this, and they also did not labelt he pavillions as per their map they give you when you enter. Sometimes you could not tell which artist was on as they did not announce themselves, and sometimes their visuals did not give you any clue either. Too bad for the new artist that you liked b ut could find nothing out about as most of the space was taken up by those punters who could not name any dance tunes by any of the artists on at any time during the event.

Action Jackson

Action Jackson said on the 15th Jul, 2010

I agree with the majority of people here that festivals have really lost their way. I feel that the vast majority are purely going because it's a fun day out. There is however the odd shining beacon of hope. It's called Meredith (and Golden Plains). These are the only festivals I dare go to any more because you can enjoy your day without having it ruined by inconsiderate idiots.

I also agree that Soundwave was great, but certainly not perfect. It may sound weird but I think this comes down to the fact that metal/rock fans are FAR better than dance fans. Sure they still have their annoying dickhead (everywhere always does) but these are fewer and further between.


Groovecat said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Winter Sound System in Perth got cancelled because quite a few of the acts were the same as we had seen earlier in the year, and so no-one wanted to buy tickets. It was also a stupid idea to have it outdoors too at that time of year. This one reeked of organiser greediness and quite frankly I found it insulting to the festival loving public. it seemed like these guys were totally appealing to the crowd that just goes to festivals to say they went. However, perhaps that crowd is not as shallow as I thought because the event was cancelled due to stuff all ticket sale.


sm44 said on the 15th Jul, 2010

"most of the dick head steroid boy orange girl idiot crowd will attend the main stage for the full day" Nail on the head. Rarely have this problem as if you are armed with a map and set times its so easy to avoid and the other stages have that old feel of festivals 4-5 years ago. Festivals are big enough these days to have both dickheads, roidboys, 18yo, people getting smashed and people there for the music. Just remember that they are funding the event as well so the organisers can take risks with other acts.


ellaplane said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Festivals were once about "showcasing" musically talent - the new and the old for those who are new to the scene as well as the jaded. I guess that's the main point - sharing the music you like with others... (yes the orange girls and muscle boys scare me but we're all learning right?!) x


ellaplane said on the 15th Jul, 2010

musically > musical (typo)


djdrey said on the 15th Jul, 2010

Nice article DRH. At We Love Sounds, I kid you not - I was walking back to get a drink while Underworld had been on for 20 mins or so.. A guy stopped me and asked "mate, when do Underworld start?"... wtf? That's them on stage now mate.. RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!


daverh said on the 15th Jul, 2010

That story is priceless Drey. And a pretty sad illustration of the crowd a lot of commenters are referring to!


Dubcool said on the 15th Jul, 2010

There becoming a lot more violent with all the people getting fucked up on all types of drugs, I'm all for that but not at festival, bring back passing the old joint around. peace


ToyBox said on the 15th Jul, 2010

I dont think its all doom and gloom.
Classic example, Liberate Brisbane back in April.
Around 1000ppl everyone purely there for the music.


flippy said on the 15th Jul, 2010

interesting that this article has popped up just as i've decided i'm done with festivals purely based on my opinion that mirrors Simon Barwoods opinion.. festivals have lost their soul and are just a place to be seen now overstuffed with people and their attitude.


macracer1 said on the 15th Jul, 2010

A thing I have noticed with people at these big events is that they dont know the words to the songs i remember i was singing along to a Infedted Mushroom song while they were playing LIVE at Summadayze people were staring at me like singing along was weird or somthing maybe nobody reads the lyrics in cd booklets any more or worse with this Bic Flick Fizz music purchases (ie Mp3 Downloads) these days there is no essential info to study and memorise i really fear that in the future there will be nothing tangable in music to buy anymore it will all be Bic Fizz even though you will be slugged the cd price or worse for it....I lament the Future of the cd collector music Fan...


CircusMidget said on the 15th Jul, 2010

It's fucking dance music, not karaoke.


pEAkeR_hAT said on the 15th Jul, 2010

The best thing about huge international headliners is that everyone bails to see them, like an awesome filter for the dancefloor lol


yogibb said on the 16th Jul, 2010

a place where you used to dance till your calves cramped, pissed in a bottle coz u didnt want to miss a beat are comming to an end to my dismay for big festivals anyway...rattling video clips with the almighty ...OMG's!...have passed....2010 approaches and i see a different place, different people, judge dredded with people walkin around looking for thier sanity rather than a hug...where have the good times gone lol ...i just want the rush of a unified crowd...

smaller events however are back in buisness! liberate THANK YOU! the likes of you THANK YOU!!! ....


elryo said on the 16th Jul, 2010

i won't buy tickets to a festival if there isn't anyone playing that interests me. I also don't see the need to expand them each year (other than for profit for the promoters), I would much rather a couple thousand people dancing in 2-3 tents than 15 thousand people spread across 6 stages with still no room to move


TravelJungler said on the 16th Jul, 2010

Thats right and as far as it goes the festivals year in year out have been a similar vibe and a similar lineup. Finally this year there is something completely different in terms of Atmosphere and line up which is Paradise in Bali. The first ever Australasian party holiday in a venue that is amazing and likely more interesting than any venue anyone has been to in Australia yet still close enough for most to be able to go.


Johbremat said on the 16th Jul, 2010

Haven't been to a festival since Beastie Boys came for Good Vibrations in '07. When you can't walk through (or past) the ampitheatre and have some sweaty, pissed, roid-munching, no-shirt-wearing-in-10-degree-weather muppet start abusing you for brushing past him, you know it's all gone pear.

Can the festivals. Ban 'em. Bring back the evenings huddled amongst the great unwashed in a club-too-small where there's a chance you'll die in a fire because every exit and path is blocked by the seething masses lost in the techno, bringing to the breaks and jump to the drum'n'bass.

Oh, youth. Long lost: how I miss you.


Mickstah said on the 17th Jul, 2010

Three fucking words:

Festival Strength Drinks.


xtigga said on the 18th Jul, 2010

Love seeing an orange guy munging-out at a festival with iPod earphones in. What a legend.


lawlietskyy said on the 18th Jul, 2010

Festivals are just ridiculous now ... Its all about getting on the pingers going wild ... the younguns dont even care about the music, seriously - a DJ could chuck on a pre-mixed CD and half these d*ckheads that go to festivals wouldn't know the difference.... Reminds me of the Bloody Beetroots at Creamfields - what a total load of crap that "the drumsticks were broken" ---- confirmed story that they were too busy with groupies behind the stage and cbf going out - as well as not having the skill to play LIVE.

Stick to the Trance events / rooms - thats where you'll find real / old school people who actually go for the music. and im sure most people will agree its a lot more friendly of an environment...

Festival Strength Drinks want to make me run up to every single festival organizer and slash their achilies tendon.


barkus said on the 19th Jul, 2010

An interesting one wrt "the festival vibe" and the "music"

personally, some of the best festival moments came from a crowd, whether it be 200 or 10,000 totally engaged by the DJ. For me, it defined the character of the event and set the mood for it.

For example, Armin playing SD 2005 or 2006. Very tense before hand and he played a 2 hour set that just had the crowd in his hand. perfect day for it, lots of people and just went off. from that piont forward, the day was one of the greatest as we shared an amazing piece of music together.

seeing him or tiesto at gackfests/look good crowds and the vibe is different, simply because the wander around, look at their phone, get smashed but miss the music altogether as an integral part of the event, which in turn has people whinging about roid muchers and lack of plur etc

but, great article, well considered.

and if it becomes clubs again, that aint a bad thing - 200 or 5000 - engaged crowd is great fun


dancetothis said on the 19th Jul, 2010

how many of you have actually bankrolled or produced a real festival. Answer nil. These forums are a waste of time because the people commenting have no credibility in events and no real experience. What could you possibly say that would be (a) worth listening to (b) be based on facts (c) be beneficial to the industry. The answer is that these forums are a complete waste of everyones time. Why dont you all go back to work, stop wasting your time and do something constructive. ITM why dont you cease these forums or get some real moderators.


stoken said on the 19th Jul, 2010

each festival I go to, I go for the music, however the majority of 'kids' going turn up for the image. I get sick of the arragence of the crowds, and the limited knowledge that people have with regard to who they're seeing. at future and creamfields this year, the main stages were full of pretentious idiots who didn't even know what was playing, and all they wanted to do was show off to the other idiots around, in saying this they all seemed to be 18-20, when I went back to the trance stages, at least people were respectful and more polite, but then again the trance crowd is a little older, maybe its an age issue these days??


bjonbjonbjon said on the 19th Jul, 2010

everything went down hill after stereo '08. Bought a ticket to see ferry at cream '10, the crowd was just shocking..racist remarks, young ppl just getting wasted, fights going on..It will never be the same again..


nickgray said on the 20th Jul, 2010

i plan on going for the music till that day when i get so fuckd up i dont no were i am sure i go mainly to pik up and get off tap and take off my shirt coz i have muscles and taned up haha you cant fight they way the music festivals are going you are going to just have to live with it or STOP CUMMING AND HAVING A FUKING CRY its called evolution it gone from 70s 80s and than the 90s than now>>>.....


Kali_kool said on the 20th Jul, 2010

Totally agree bjon, Stereo 08 was the last good festival, great mixed crowd and not ridiculously packed, these days they are over the top, its all about how much money the promoters can bring in...
Thank god for Brown Alley :) my 2nd home


STEVEMILLS said on the 20th Jul, 2010

I'm afraid that nickgrey is right… We had a good run for a while. I have noticed over the past 10 years of festivals/clubs/raves that this “seen” sorry scene has opened up to a whole diverse range of people. Unfortunately its not due to the love of dance music but for the love of drugs mixed with ego.

This is a very relevant and hurtful fact that the scene we once knew, trusted


webgott said on the 21st Jul, 2010

From all I've heard, there was a Festival with a good crowd in Sydney recently, this Space Ibiza thing that tried to compete with Field Day. Besides the toilet logistics complaints, I only heard positive things about it.

Same IMHO is valid for Shore Thing: Fuzzy usually presents credible acts and the Drugroids are at Home that night.

Stereosonic had a great line-up last year with quality acts (Miss Kittin, Laurent Garnier), but it also showed why you can't run a big festival like that: When Deadmau5 and Garnier competed at the same time, Garnier and his band had maybe 100 people watching them at the Hordern, the other 20,000 were at Deadmau5. I thoroughly enjoyed Garnier's show, one of the very best live acts EVER, but without the big name acts (the likes of Tiesto, Deadmau5) that any 18 year old knows, you can't sell out a big festival in Australia nowadays. It's sad, but true.

Then consider the costs of good acts with a great long-term reputation (think Garnier, Royksopp, The Knife/Fever Ray): They'll cost the promoter c.$20-50k per gig plus business class travel from Europe. That's $150-200k right there, meaning after marketing costs, you have to convince roughly 2,500 people to come for these acts and pay $120. It's not gonna happen - much more effective to pay $200k to Tiesto and have 10,000 18-year-olds on drugs come to see him because "He's Tiesto! Doesn't he do these white parties? I heard they're awesome!"


God-Speed said on the 26th Jul, 2010

The last festival i went to where i felt that the people attending were there, for the music, had to be Field Day 2003. Ever since then i have seen people going just for the same reasons as the author had listed - just for a social event - everyone else is doing it - it must be cool! People were friendly and the vibe was awesome, everyone was there for the same thing and to have a good time. These days, guys go to the gym for 3/4 of the year just so that in that period of the festival calander, they can get their shirts off and look good. I was horrified to see at a subsequent event a bunch of guys kick over a portaloo with a young girl trapped inside. Then i shook my head and knew things had allready changed. That was 5 years ago. Every festival i go to these days, (and there arent many) fail to really provide a good time. Dealing with the 18 year olds, roid heads, insanley huge crowds (lets cram more people to make more money), it just isnt as pleasent an experience as it once was.


consensualrapist said on the 2nd Aug, 2010

i think saying that the younger generations are attracted by headliners only is a bit harsh. depends on who else is playing. in this article jack beats aren't mentioned as a headliner for parklife, but more certain most of the punters there will be in their teens.


bigstrauss said on the 2nd Aug, 2010

taking heaps of drugs makes festivals hectic


falloni said on the 22nd Aug, 2010

Retired from festivals now, not the same


nightshiver said on the 26th Aug, 2010

i find in Melbourne lots of people go just because their friends drag them a long as its 'the cool thing' to do. it seems more about the atmosphere, alcohol and having fun for most.


SubsonicMusic said on the 6th Sep, 2010

That article wasn't all negative. Thanks for the respect. You only need to look at the intentions of the people behind said events :)


dub57p said on the 24th Nov, 2010

yer, there over ran with pill munching cheese heads