Is the large-scale mu­sic fes­ti­val an en­dan­gered species?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

WHEN IT comes to mu­sic fes­ti­vals in big fields, Michael Eavis knows the score. The farmer be­hind the mas­sive Glas­ton­bury fes­ti­val has been deal­ing with bands and mu­sic fans for decades and has seen the rise and fall of many fes­ti­val cy­cles.

Eavis be­lieves we’re at the end of an era. There’s no Glas­ton­bury fes­ti­val next year – the Lon­don Olympics means a short­age of por­taloos and po­lice­men in the UK next sum­mer, but Eavis reck­ons the fes­ti­val is on the way out.

In a down­beat as­sess­ment, Eavis be­lieves fans are suf­fer­ing from fes­ti­val fa­tigue. “We’ve prob­a­bly got an­other three or four years. Partly it’s eco­nom­ics, but there is a feel­ing that peo­ple have seen it all be­fore.”

Too many fes­ti­vals com­pet­ing for the same dis­pos­able in­come and higher costs means fes­ti­vals like Glas­ton­bury have to go af­ter huge head­lin­ers to sur­vive. Jay-Z’s ap­pear­ance at the fes­ti­val in 2008 re­ceived huge cov­er­age, but the fes­ti­val still made a loss of £22 mil­lion.

The Glas­ton­bury boss is prob­a­bly not the only pro­moter feel­ing pres­sure, but he’s the only one talk­ing about it so openly. Just as the big fes­ti­vals in Ire­land are not sell­ing out in ad­vance, the same story is be­ing re­peated across the UK this sum­mer.

Last week­end’s Ox­e­gen fes­ti­val in Co Kil­dare was not a sell-out, and most pun­ters noted that there was plenty of room around the arena and stages all week­end as pun­ters stayed away.

We may well be reach­ing the end of this par­tic­u­lar love af­fair with the catch-all big mu­sic fes­ti­val in a field. The move is on to smaller events like Castlepalooza and Body & Soul and ur­ban fests like For­bid­den Fruit. We should ex­pect to see a lot of changes at Ox­e­gen 2012.

Michael Eavis, the man be­hind Glas­ton­bury: is it the end of an era?

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