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Loss of Community

Festival Republic’s dismissal of everything that made Reading and Leeds great has finally crept up on them with the first non-instant sellout in the best part of a decade.

If you were lucky (old) enough to have gone to Reading Festival in the 90’s or catch the first few of the new millennium, you’d be hard pressed to feel what you did back in the day if you were to turn up now. You’d be mistaken for thinking that Radio 1 were having another big weekend and be shocked at how much you’d have to shell out for the privilege.

The festivals were always billed as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll event going but let’s face it there’s more rock and roll at a geologists picnic. The only worries you’d had back in the day was whether you’d miss a band due to hedontisic excess or whether you had enough money to fuel that excess. Nowadays it seems the thing on peoples minds are what to wear and which band they should be seen at so they can let all their friends know via Twitter hashtags and Facebook updates. Let’s not forget witnessing which prick wins the award of “most naughty word in neon on the forehead” award.

The ethos has totally changed. The festival has become a fashionable rite of passage for people kids celebrating several dozen A* at GCSE. There has been a shift from people that went for the music to people going because the latest NME feature on Two Door Cinema Club mentioned the fact the lead singer said it was cool. FR knew this and by God did they rape it. The trouble is that in becoming the ultimate Pedobear fantasy, the festival has alienated the people that made the festivals great. It stuck up a huge middle finger to the old guard (which is as rock ‘n’ roll as the festival gets nowadays). Yeah it worked for several years and I dare say it’ll work this year as well: but let this be a lesson. By all means embrace the future generation but don’t dare forget the people who put you where you are today.

Festival Hipsters

The festivals had the philosophy that you look after one another. It felt like one huge community all enjoying music together. Nowadays it feels like a mass of individuals. The atmosphere resembles a cloudy day at Alton Towers where the kids aren’t supervised and forced to consume alcohol in case a ride breaks. There used to be unwritten rules that you’d only do a circle pit to a song that needed it, but now you’ll see neon cladded boys moshing to an acoutsic set by Elbow, in some red stripe infused mating ritual with no care for who they hurt.

Being asked for some acid in the 90′s often meant the other person was going to be off their tits all night but if someone asked you for acid at the festivals now, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were asking for battery acid that they’d first paint onto themselves and then throw in your face.

On the subject of a loss of community and switching into geek mode, you only have to look at the social networks to realise how uninterested FR are in the community (figures correct at time of posting)

Twitter Followers

  • Reading and Leeds – 30,483 (remember this is over two festivals with close to 80k people attending each day)
  • Download Festival – 31, 394 (one venue with a smaller audience)
  • Sonisphere – 18, 616 (very new festival with a much smaller audience)
  • Glastonbury – 63,355

Facebook Likes

  • Reading and Leeds23,815 (RF) 19,187 (LF)
  • Download Festival -207, 949
  • Sonisphere -158, 732
  • Glastonbury – 149, 353

As for the official forums, they’re just far too embarrassing to go into detail on, when compared to other official festival forums. As far as I know, all this falls onto the head of one person and that person’s primary role is a secretary. Seriously. As much as FR need remember the old times, they need to get moving with new technology. One look on the website will show you how little they care about Facebook, Twitter and the forums – either that, or whoever designed the website is registered blind. How can we take a company seriously when they fail to grasp the most basic concepts of technology?

The quality of the festival has gone downhill. The festival, as a product, has declined massively despite the ever increasing price. With each year you get the sense the line up budget was cut, that security were paid even less (and as a result cared less about their job) and that they’re packing more and more people into a smaller space. Things are brought up in the focus group year on year and promises made but rarely kept. It’s almost as if they have the attitude of  “it sells out, so why should we listen?”. Needless to say, no focus group has been formalised this year (as yet). There have been promises of forum-only prizes, better competitions and more involvement but in the spirit of the focus groups, but nothing has been done.

The festival has become a marketing departments wet dream. Minimal work for maximum profit, but it looks like they might have to actually earn their keep this year. We need to start feeling that FR give two shits about us again. Yeah, we know it’s a business which means profit is king but it doesn’t have to be so blatant. Other festivals have staff on the forums and yet FR only manage a secretary who does it in her spare time. Maybe FR were entitled to ignore us when they sold out each year but this might be the year they start listening. When we ask for stuff, we don’t expect everything to be done but at least listen to us on topics such as Viagogo and a ticket registration system, rather than dismissing it due to narrowing down the profit margins of a company that has millions of pounds of profit each and every year.

Care about the festival as much as we do. Give something back to the community. Give us back our festival. Listen to us.

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