The juice on Forbidden Fruit
There are many things which are beyond the control of a festival organiser. For a start, there’s the weather. No matter how many Children Of Prague statues you plant in your back yard in the weeks leading up to the …
There are many things which are beyond the control of a festival organiser. For a start, there’s the weather. No matter how many Children Of Prague statues you plant in your back yard in the weeks leading up to the event or how much you plaster your ads with “forecast for the weekend: dry and sunny” banners, you cannot control the weather. Then, there’s the performance of the acts on the day. I’m sure the Primavera booker who paid good money for Gonjasufi the other week expected something other than what turned up. And, while you can control this to some extent by virtue of the acts you book, there’s also the behaviour of those who pay in at the gate to have a good time to consider. You could end up with a parade of snotty hipsters or you could end up with the audience at the dance lean-to at Oxegen.
One thing you can and do control, though, are the bars. The bars are where you make your cash because if there is one thing as certain as night following day, it is that Irish audiences are a thirsty lot. All festival audiences are thirsty, but Irish audiences have a fierce thirst altogether for the gargle. This has been the case since someone first said “hey man, let’s have a gig in this big field with a bit of a slope in it”.
But the flood of tweets from Forbidden Fruit at Dublin’s IMMA on Saturday evening told a sad, sorry tale as punters came to terms with an hour-long queue for a beer. Somewhere along the line, someone had made a hames of the bars – or they might have decided to put the sponsor’s slogan “nothing added but time” into action. Of course, there are some who don’t think this matters. But while I couldn’t give two figs about a bar at an event like this as I don’t drink, the audience is not made up of people like me and the vast majority want to enjoy their day in a big field with a bit of a slope in it while live music plays in the background by having a few drinks. Queueing for an hour – even when the sun is shining – is not why they bought a ticket, hence why so many were letting off steam. The lad who decided it was a good idea to have free wireless internet at the festival may be looking for some new spreadsheets this morning. Apologies and explanations have followed, but that’s shutting the stable-door behaviour.
On the flipside, though, Forbidden Fruit worked. IMMA is a lovely site, the stages were smartly located, there was little sound spill between stages, the booking policy was on point (headliners aside – Flaming Lips are the new Red Hot Chili Peppers in terms of appearances here, while the Aphex Twin was never really headliner material) and everyone was in fairly good form once the bars had been sorted.
I’ve been surprised for a while why no promoter bothered with more urban festivals of this ilk – London is full of ‘em every summer, though there is naturally a bigger population to draw from. We had Lisdoonvarna (when it bizarrely moved to Dublin in 2003), we had Lovebox and, uhm, that was really it to date. A festival set in the capital means punters don’t have to worry about getting B&Bs or tents and can just rock on home when they’re finished rocking out. Unless they’re from Cork. We can expect the competition to try their hand at the city festival next year – maybe it would have been better to have made all those @ the Park gigs into one big festival, eh? – and we can also expect POD to learn from the mistakes this time out. After all, POD were the ones who issued a hefty list of things which went wrong after Electric Picnic 2005 and how they were going to sort them out. Better to be upfront about these things than using the Arthur Cox school of PR.
Due to other stuff, I only got to IMMA on Sunday afternoon, but I was glad to catch Caribou and Battles, who I’d missed the previous weekend at Primavera. After a ropey start due to the sound, Caribou soared by twisting and extrapolating some fascinating grooves from their tracks. Battles concentrated on new album “Gloss Drop” due to being a man down and, while the majority of the audience wanted to hear “Atlas” and the vintage gear, it was a strong, brave, positive show. Not Squares’ feet-first punkytronica dance party was always going to fill the small tent with people busting moves, but their material has really found some new muscles and stances over the last year since their debut album was released. It took about 10 minutes for people to realise that they knew nothing about Aphex Twin bar those crrrrrazy videos. Richard D James might have been an interesting choice at the sharp end of the bill a decade ago. but he has been surpassed on every level by hundreds of producers since and is really just trading on past glories. Anyone who dug his show obviously doesn’t get out much or was on some bad drukqs.
And, finally, quote of the weekend, if not quote of the season: Forbidden Fruit PR company to journalist who had already written piece on festival and was seeking a review ticket: “sorry, we can’t give you a press ticket because all the Assets models want to come down and we have to look after them”. Yep, the Irish summer festival season has begun.