Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

That summer festival feeling

Strap yourself in, the announcements are about to commence. Over the next couple of weeks, talk will turn to tents and fields as the country’s live music promoters begin their barker routine about festivals and one-off gigs around the country. …

Wed, Feb 16, 2011, 09:45

   

Strap yourself in, the announcements are about to commence. Over the next couple of weeks, talk will turn to tents and fields as the country’s live music promoters begin their barker routine about festivals and one-off gigs around the country. We’ve already had the measure of the Oxegen and Live at the Marquee line-ups and we can also expect such established festivals and one-off gig venues as Body & Soul (very impressive headliner lined up here), Castle Palooza, Indiependence, Life, Sea Sessions, Big Top at Galway Arts Festival, the shows at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens and CorkXSW (Patti Smith is already confirmed for this fest which is moving to a new location at Liss Ard House and to a new date at the start of June) to keep her lit as well this summer. And then, there’s also the Electric Picnic, the traditional end to the season’s activities.

What will be really interesting to note this year are the new offerings from the established players. POD will be shortly announcing details of their new Forbidden Fruit festival (to be held in the grounds of IMMA/Royal Hospital in Dublin) and MCD have currently offers out to a number of acts for a series of tented shows in Marlay Park over the summer (many of those acts also have offers from the other promoters for similar shows). There is also some speculation about one or two new entrants from promoters who’ve learned the ropes elsewhere seeking to move into the smaller festival game. The recession, it seems, has not knocked the stuffing out of everyone.

It’s telling that all the newer fests OTR has heard about are smaller ones. The days of would-be moguls trying to do their own Electric Picnic or Oxegen seem to be thankfully at an end. While I have the height of respect and admiration for anyone who goes off and has a go, there were quite a few badly thought out festivals and events over the last 10 years which ended with acts, paying customers, production crew, suppliers and venues getting stung. That’s not to say that similar problems won’t afflict the newbies going small, but the scale will be a lot more manageable.

Of course, the bigger question is if there will be enough punters to go round for all these shows. Given the numbers that are leaving the country every week and the much documented problems faced by those businesses who rely on disposable income (bars, restaurants, retail etc), it’s an ambitious ask for all of the shows and festivals mentioned above to do well.

There’s certainly no sign of a reduction in ticket prices to persuade people to take a chance. For instance, it will cost you €39.20 (plus TM fees) to see Fleet Foxes in Cork this summer, compared to the €35 ticket price for Grizzly Bear at the same venue last year. It seems that the acts, who have pushed up ticket prices by rising their fees as they seek to make up the shortfall in revenue from record sales, don’t want to leave any cash on the table.

And the foreign festival element will be as strong this year as ever to draw punters away from Irish gigs to other festivals offering better line-ups and prices – I bet I’m not the only one who was persuaded to go to Primavera again this year by the latest batch of additions to the line-up.

As has become the norm over the last couple of years, it’s going to be a very interesting summer out in those fields.

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