Oxegen 2013: A breath of fresh air or a last gasp?
It was once the festival that ruled them all but ticket sales have declined and the line-up has shifted to pop and dance. Will the likes of David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Rita Ora herald a new dawn?
CAN I GUETTA WITNNESS?
Enter Oxegen 2013, a bill dominated by dance and pop acts. Your headliners are Calvin Harris and David Guetta, with room also on the bill for Snoop Dogg, Example, Chase & Status, Rita Ora, 2 Many DJs and Alesso. Then, in racing parlance, you have the field with DJs and producers as far as the eye can see and the budget can accommodate.
So, the question is, will the festival sell? For a start, we’re dealing with a 37.5 per cent reduction in capacity from the 80,000 of old to 50,000 this year, so it’s an easier ask, albeit with a reduced budget for acts.
Even at that, though, there was widespread speculation about a move to a smaller venue after promoters MCD and Festival Republic applied for a licence for a 30,000-capacity dance/pop event in Marlay Park for the same weekend. The only ones who know how the event is really doing are the people with access to the Ticketmaster tallies and they’re obviously not talking.
DON’T FEEL LIKE DANCNG
Stevie Grainger is a DJ on Cork’s Red FM, a radio station squarely aimed at the same demographic audience as Oxegen.
“It’s a very radio-friendly line-up – in fact, it looks like the top 40 of electronic acts are pretty much mostly all on there,” he says of this year’s bill. “Obviously, it is targeted at a younger crowd than the original Witnness and Oxegen series of shows, but things have changed and there is a lot more on in 2013.”
While it’s certainly a summer of plenty when it comes to festivals, there are very few other festivals with such a sharply tuned dance/pop remit aimed at this audience. The question is if this is necessarily what the Oxegen audience wants. A considerable constituency of one-time Oxegen regulars are very discombobulated by the move away from rock firmly to pop and dance. A glance at the event’s various social media pages shows that the festival promoters are being castigated at every turn for their new booking policy.
Today FM’s Colm O’Sullivan feels the revamp is worth a try. “There are so many festivals now, all with targeted focus, that adding the mix of previous artists might prove very expensive and not return enough for promoters, so maybe this new focus is good for a festival of this kind. It could explore more angles, maybe even introduce a competition element like Technics World DJ Championship, or add more elements involving upcoming Irish rappers and producers. Maybe it will in future years.”
Grainger, meanwhile, believes that “the mix at big festivals seems to be part of the fun. I’m (just!) out of the target demographic, but I’ve seen Earth Wind and Fire, Odd Future, Ian McCulloch and co working at Oxegen. Obviously other festivals have changed things, but maybe one or two more rock acts might have tilted the balance. The line-up should certainly work for a lot of people, though; the likes of McCulloch and EW&F were probably token bookings at the end of the day.”