It’s that time of year again. Pressure from Facebook telling you how many of your friends are ‘interested’, or ‘going’ to various festivals, and the subsequent eagerness to avoid FOMO, has resulted in the topic of music festivals being somewhat associated with a sense of urgency and panic. And on the other side of the equation, festival organisers are gradually building a lineup, trying to strike the balance between retaining enough mystery surrounding headliners to keep punters intrigued, and publicising enough names to encourage ticket sales.
Sadly, both time and money (and reality: as much as one might like, we cannot live at a festival for eternity) impede on the well-wishing festival goer: one has to be picky about the festivals they are going to. In the past ten years, festivals of all shapes and sizes have sprung up – each one complete with its own personality. Festival organisers have capitalised upon this individuality: in the last weekend of August the quaint and hippie-esque Shambala festival is pitted against the behemoth of the Reading/Leeds combo. To call them ‘rivals’ would be erroneous as they are so utterly different from each other.
The inevitable, while speculating upon festivals, is that conversation eventually meanders to Glastonbury. 2017 is a poignant year. Next year has been confirmed as a fallow year, and in 2019 it will be held in a different location. Radiohead and the Foo Fighters are a salve to its precarious future, and the excitement surrounding the rest of the lineup is palpable.
Glastonbury, however, has become a victim of its own success. Its magnitude both puts it on the map, and threatens its existence: ticket price, attendance, size continue to snowball. Put simply, it is unsustainable. Factor in an hour’s walk from stage to stage, battling not only the famed Glastonbury mud, but punters in varying states of inebriation, and the five days become draining. Your elation at seeing your two favourite artists on the lineup quickly morphs into distress as you realise that you’d have a better chance of actually breaking into the festival than you would running from the Pyramid Stage to The Park within a half hour slot.
At smaller festivals this issue is diluted. Sister festivals Truck and Ynot have been quietly supplying solid lineups, and by fiercely protecting its small size, have kept ticket prices low. This year the two share The Vaccines, and Sundara Karma amongst many, and Ynot will see Two Door Cinema Club, Jake Bugg, and Stereophonics on the Big Gin Stage. Not forgetting Example’s set, which very well might continue the disorder of DJ Fresh’s headline last year which culminated in premature closure as the crowd, induced by ‘Louder’, grew wild.
Winchester is the destination for the EDM lovers. Creamfields returns with a lineup that just makes you wonder how they managed to coordinate all the artists’ touring schedules with one another. Annie Mac, Deadmau5, Diplo, Fatboy Slim, Stormzy does not do justice to half of its acts.
Of course, with some festivals the line-up is but an afterthought. I’m told you go to Shambala more for the vibe and the experience than the lineup. Indeed, despite not having released a lineup, ticket sales have not been impacted. So if you find yourself swayed by vegetarian-only food stalls, and the requirement of dress-up and copious amounts of glitter, it may be the place for you.
Or why not choose a festival based on location instead: watch the sunset on Fistral beach at Boardmaster’s festival, or appreciate the Welsh landscape at Green Man festival. To continually choose festivals based completely on lineups is limiting, as they have so much more on offer. Branch out, explore; don’t go to a festival simply for a festival Geotag and a Facebook album.