The Year The Festival Died
It's been fun riding the emotional rollercoaster over the last year as the festival market in Australia continues to go through huge changes. Once proud festivals are gone and only a few are left to pick up the pieces.
We take a look back at the last 12 months and have a look at the carnage left behind as festival after festival is postponed, cancelled, or simply vanishes.
We could go on for hours with theories on why the market has been so volatile but we believe the words of Yosemite Sam probably sum it up best when he said 'This town aint big enough for the both of us'.
The Brisbane leg of The Falls Music and Arts Festival quietly disappeared for the 2011/12 event despite it being a successful inclusion since 2009. Whilst no official statement was released as to why Sunset Sounds vanished, it is said to have been due to damage inflicted upon the Botanical Gardens venue the prior year. Although it wasn’t all bad, at least Brisbane got some sideshows this year.
Great Southern Blues Festival
Bateman Bay’s Great Southern Blues Festival bit the dust due to ‘low ticket sales’ with promoter Neil Mumme blaming the move from the festivals initial site in Narooma, and the world economy for the demise.
New Beginnings Festival
Unlike the festivals zombie theme, this is one isn’t coming back from the dead. While the Vengabus still came, nobody was jumping at the 2012 festival as poor tickets sales put the sword to the inaugural event. New Beginnings, same old ending.
Mission To Launch Festival
Mission To Launch Festival didn’t quite take off the way organisers had hoped as the Canberra event crashed and burned due to meagre ticket sales. Promoters released a statement saying ‘The decision has been a very difficult one for organisers who, as Canberra locals themselves, envisaged bringing a world-class party to the nation’s capital for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, the current economic climate has seen music festivals across the country suffer with drops in numbers of attendees and poor ticket sales on a large scale’.
Initially thought to be cancelled, Harbourlife supposed survived the chop with Fuzzy promoter John Wall saying the festival would be returning in the ‘first half of 2012’. We haven’t heard anything about it, have you?
The two-day festival of 1980s music, drastically downgraded from Kembla Grange near Wollongong to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion to try boost ticket sales, included (and then lost) the likes of Kool and The Gang, Bananarama, The Human League and Right Said Fred. The latter tweeted that the festival is ‘looking a bit iffy right now’ as it looked certain to fall apart. After refusing the refund tickets the promoters suffered a backlash from the public, artists, and even the Government. Fast-forward a few days and Rewind was stopped because nobody appeared to want to play.
After a few dodgy years of act cancellations including the likes of Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monae, Friendly Fires, and The Killers, Good Vibrations decided to mimic its acts and not show up in 2011. It’s 2012 event is supposedly being moved to December.
Initially possessing acts like The Grates, The Vines, and Josh Pyke, Canberra’s Stonefest was forced to make massive scale backs to event as organisers believed the festival couldn’t carry on in its current format. So dropping all indie and rock acts, including the aforementioned, to create a dance and hip-hop heavy bill was the next logical step and the event was renamed ‘The Stonefest ‘Rock On’ Party’, despite there being nothing ‘rock’ about it, apart from rock bottom.
Festival organizers could only shrug their shoulder and admit ‘sadly, due to the financial pressures many festivals have been forced to fold’ as Tasmania’s Soundscape Festival was also put to the guillotine.
Only weeks after it’s announcement Raggamuffin festival was cancelled for 2012 faster the you can say ‘dude, did you get the Cheetos?’, despite its move to smaller venues with 2-4-1 ticket deals. Promoters have promised that the event will return “bigger and better than ever in 2013 with an exciting line-up”.
One Movement For Music
The festival that gave Stonefield their big break, One Movement For Music, failed because of poor attendance and is currently having its structure reviewed in the hopes that the tax-payer funded event will be revamped for 2012.
Funk N Grooves
The picturesque surroundings of The Hunter Valley were not appealing enough for Funk N Grooves Festival, as the remote event was left to fall where nobody was around to hear it. Did it make a sound? No.
Ultra Session Beats 300
It seemed doomed from the start, with many skeptical of the line-up that contained the likes of Kid Cudi and Lil’ Wayne. While promoters were unable to make an official statement, it appeared that things went sour for the festival due relationships with booking agents turning out to be illegitimate, thus spoiling the groundwork, and leaving the festival to crumble.
‘It is with great sadness that the 3630 committee must announce the next 3630 Festival is to be postponed until 2013 due to unforeseen circumstances’ stated the organizers of the 3630 festival. The festival had a spectacular year previously but even that couldn't save a festival in rural Victoria.
After Soundwave festival 2011 rocked Australia shores with the likes of Iron Maiden, Queens of The Stone Age and Slayer, the black tshirt mob were licking their lips when erratic promoter AJ Maddah conceived new festival, Soundwave Revolution. Donning the likes of Van Halen, Alice Cooper and Hole the festival seemed destined for the success of it’s father festival, however it all fell apart when an unnamed headliner (Van Halen) decidedly pulled out. ‘We didn’t want to go ahead with an incomplete line-up’ Maddah stated as picked up the pieces of his fallen festival and his credibility.
Kanye West!? Coldplay!? Pulp!? What a line up! Perhaps not it would seem. ‘For the first time in many years Splendour In The Grass has not sold out on the same day that tickets were released for sale’ stated organizers, as what appeared to be a blockbuster on paper, turned out not to be a runaway success. Was it the price hike? Was it the inclusion of Kanye West that saw the festival piss off some of it’s key demographic? While the festival is still very much alive and kicking (and thank god), the fact that such a festival was unable to sell out sent shockwaves through the industry, and typified the year that was 2011.
Big Day Out
The staple in the Australian summer festival program, iconic in so many way, the 2011 announcement for this summers Big Day Out doesn’t reflect such a complimentary statements. Despite a line-up of Kanye West, Soundgarden, Kasabian, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Bird’s the festival has sold poorly, forcing drastic location and line-up changes to the Adelaide, Perth, and Auckland legs of the tour. Incredibly high prices may be the reason the 20 year old festival in stumbling, as were astronomically high expectations for the festival that it was simply unable to meet. Poor ticket sales were a factor that had longterm partners Vivian Lees and Ken West go their separate way, and now it’s no longer a safe bet the festival will be around for years to come.
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