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Metal festivals have become ridiculous


Dead1
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i was just looking at the Wacken 2022 lineup and I have to say it's got ridiculous.

Seriously even over 3 days there is something like over 120 bands at Wacken.

Hellfest was over 350 bands over 7 day in 2022!

And 3 days of live music is ridiculous in itself.  I can imagine by day 3 the only sound you want to hear is silence.  After 7 I suspect it's either suicide or at least a jaunt to the closest mental asylum.

It's just become mass consumption  and oversaturation.  It's economies of scale gone mad!

 

Surely us punters would get more out of tours.  The bands would probably as well - I have heard that playing festivals is easy but I don't know how much bands get paid especially if you're not a headline act (I know in past bands had to pay for good slots or even to appear at some festivals ala Ozzfest).

https://loudwire.com/hellfest-2022-lineup/

 

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Compare to old days: Monsters of Rock 1988 - 6 bands over 1 day!

 

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Ozzfest 1997 - 13 bands (note this was actually a tour)

 

Ozzfest1997_2.jpg

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1 hour ago, Dead1 said:

After 7 I suspect it's either suicide or at least a jaunt to the closest mental asylum.

It's just become mass consumption  and oversaturation.  It's economies of scale gone mad!

 

I agree, but you are an old bastard and I'm an older bastard so what would we know.

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For bands there is a lot of benefit to festival playing. Someone else handles all the hard work. Venues, local laws, capacity limits, just about every aspect of putting on a show that bands have to do themselves (or use staff for) are done for them. PA's, speakers, desks, lights etc, are all supplied. Video screens are supplied, in many cases even pro-recording crews are supplied. The number of staff band's need on site is lessened. In most cases catering is handled for them. A band essentially only has to turn up with their gear and play. They also get to be fans if they choose to be an get out with the crowd and watch other bands. They also get to play to large numbers, which some of the lesser known bands on the bill might not get to do often.

Payments might well be less, it would depend on the event I would imagine, but for a band I can easily see why they chose to do festivals, especially in Europe where they can spend a month or two over there and play a dozen or more of them in that time.

From a fan perspective, it's not really something I'd rush too but I can see the appeal, especially if you've got a group of mates who want to have a good time and and justify 3 days, or even a week if it's needed.

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KK, you hit nail on the head.  I remember someone who worked in the industry saying that that Big Day Out festival in Australia was known as Big Day Off by band members cause it was relatively easy compared to organising and playing own gigs.

 

 

1 hour ago, Thatguy said:

I agree, but you are an old bastard and I'm an older bastard so what would we know.

Too true.

 

But I didn't even want that when I young.  I remember going to 1 day local festivals and being totally rooted by the time the headline act got on stage, even if I wasn't drinking.  All that time in the sun with loud noise takes its toll after 8-9 hours!    

I've even read festival reviews in places like Terrorizer and Zero Tolerance whereby the reviewer talks openly about fatigue on the second or third day.  Sometimes they literally wrote they were glad it finished.  

57 minutes ago, KillaKukumba said:

From a fan perspective, it's not really something I'd rush too but I can see the appeal, especially if you've got a group of mates who want to have a good time and and justify 3 days, or even a week if it's needed.

Though good luck getting all of you to agree which band to see!  :D

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I know a few guys that go to Wacken every few years and while they agree it's getting harder to see all the bands they want to and there is always at least once where they have to make the decision between two bands they still reckon it's worth making the trip for. These guys have even done multiple festivals in one trip.

I can't ever see myself doing such things, I just can't be bothered travelling that far any more, even if I thought the cost was worth it. I also can't see Australia putting on anything comparable to some of those big festivals. Look at what happened a few weeks ago at Splendour, the rain came down and everyone fucking bitched, moaned and cried about how bad things were. 

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I remember doing country music festivals around Vic and NSW in the 80's and 90's with only 5 or six performers/bands on the bill. Say what you will about country music but those fans knew how to have a good time. I hadn't even heard of half the bands and performers but we'd rock up into some country town, set up two semi trailers, a heap of sound gear and some lights and country folk would come from everywhere and party until the sun rose.

 

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20 minutes ago, KillaKukumba said:

I remember doing country music festivals around Vic and NSW in the 80's and 90's with only 5 or six performers/bands on the bill. Say what you will about country music but those fans knew how to have a good time. I hadn't even heard of half the bands and performers but we'd rock up into some country town, set up two semi trailers, a heap of sound gear and some lights and country folk would come from everywhere and party until the sun rose.

 

To be honest metal and hard rock festivals shouldn't be much more.  

 

Some of the stuff they have at Hellfest (eg amusement rides) makes me thing they're forgetting the point of it all. 

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I mean, something like 120 bands over three days seems like a lot, but you have to remember, most people aren't there to see every band, or even most of them. Usually you're lucky if you're into even a 1/4 of the bands on the bill. Spread that out over three days, factor in things like eating and rest breaks (which you definitely start to need as the weekend goes on) you maybe end up catching 6 or 8 bands per day.

I do agree that, while the same ideas would theoretically apply to Hellfest, 7 days is approaching the absurd. We do 4 at MDF and that will have you hurting by the end...a whole week would probably have me on bed rest for a month

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15 hours ago, Dead1 said:

To be honest metal and hard rock festivals shouldn't be much more. 

Yep.

 

16 hours ago, KillaKukumba said:

a few weeks ago at Splendour, the rain came down and everyone fucking bitched, moaned and cried about how bad things were. 

Well, things were pretty bad, and some poor bastard has died of a meningococcal infection caught at the 'orrible event.

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Seriously? I didn't know that. I give that guy a pass. But the rest of those whingers who bitched and moaned about waiting in line, running out of fuel, finding out the car park was a lake, getting wet, getting more wet and having some of the show cancelled, they can all eat a big rubber dick. Weather reports said it was going to be wetter than a dancer's g-string, if they didn't take that into account and either go prepared or simply stay home then it's their own whinging fault.

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Same thing happens to every event here that has a hint of a problem. The media get hold of half arsed bullshit, put a few people on who can cry about being treated harshly, they then take very little fact and they go off half cocked with their idea that lessons must be learned and governments need to take heed. The commercial news media were even worse than the ABC.

Sure mistakes were made, there is mistakes made at every festival, the difference is not every music festival, event, carnival, agricultural show has an unprecedented rain event to deal with. If they'd cancelled the event three days out because of bad weather there would have been an uproar not just from the fans who would only see pictures of a clear and sunny day 2, but by organisers and the bands themselves who are already screaming that covid has killed them.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't event, at the end of the weekend 50,000+ people turned up and the news reports show maybe 20 different people bitching and moaning, the rest of the people having a great time.

 

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7 hours ago, SurgicalBrute said:

I mean, something like 120 bands over three days seems like a lot, but you have to remember, most people aren't there to see every band, or even most of them. Usually you're lucky if you're into even a 1/4 of the bands on the bill. Spread that out over three days, factor in things like eating and rest breaks (which you definitely start to need as the weekend goes on) you maybe end up catching 6 or 8 bands per day.

I do agree that, while the same ideas would theoretically apply to Hellfest, 7 days is approaching the absurd. We do 4 at MDF and that will have you hurting by the end...a whole week would probably have me on bed rest for a month

 

Here is the thing: you shouldn't be hurting.

A 4 day metal fest is like binging on half a kilogram of chocolate or even worse drinking a bottle of aged fine whiskey drowned in several litres of Coke in one sitting.  It is essentially gluttony and overconsumption. 

6-8 bands a day over 4 days is 24-32 bands.  

After first few any sensation is dulled.  I mean on Day 3 or 4 how much are people really paying attention?  Can people renember band 17 or 21?

Moderation does wonders be it chocolate, fine whisky or seeing metal bands live or whatever else.

You want to leave wanting more,not feeling like you are at death's door and near hating the thing you love because you over indulged.

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1 hour ago, Dead1 said:

 

Here is the thing: you shouldn't be hurting.

A 4 day metal fest is like binging on half a kilogram of chocolate or even worse drinking a bottle of aged fine whiskey drowned in several litres of Coke in one sitting.  It is essentially gluttony and overconsumption. 

6-8 bands a day over 4 days is 24-32 bands.  

After first few any sensation is dulled.  I mean on Day 3 or 4 how much are people really paying attention?  Can people renember band 17 or 21?

Moderation does wonders be it chocolate, fine whisky or seeing metal bands live or whatever else.

You want to leave wanting more,not feeling like you are at death's door and near hating the thing you love because you over indulged.

Honest question...Have you ever attended a multi-day metal festival? Not trying to start anything, I'm just asking because it seems more like you're assuming rather than talking from experience.

I won't deny that at my age, my back and feet will start to hurt after a couple of days, but have you ever stood for hours at a time? Not walk around, not lean on something, but just stood there in the blazing sun? Because whether it's a one day, 6 - 8 band festival or a multi-day festival where you see 6 - 8 bands each day, I promise, it's very likely you're still going to hurt. That's why you take breaks. You go sit down with your friends, get some food, re-hydrate, and rest up for another round of bands.

See, it sounds like you're looking at it like it's some non-stop endless dash from one stage to the next, from start to finish, and yes...there are absolutely people who will try to do that, but they're generally young, fit, stupid, very drunk or some combination of that. Nothing is stopping you from taking as much time as you want between sets. Nothing is making you stand back up and wander back into the crowd except you.

...and honestly, you'd be surprised how quick that tired and sore feeling fades when a band you like comes on stage. This past MDF, day 4 was probably the busiest as far as bands I wanted to see. It was also the best I'd felt since the first day, and I actually finished it out with barely any pain.

As for drifting attention spans or forgetting bands later into the festival, again just my personal experience, but I've never really found that to be an issue. Some sets stand out more vividly to me over the years, but I can look at the lineup from any year since I first started going to MDF and tell you which bands shit the bed, and which ones put on a hell of a show.

Finally, don't conflate what I said about feeling worn out at the end of a festival with any dampening of enthusiasm for a festival. If anything, the next several days after it ends will usually have you on a high, wishing it could have gone on longer and counting down the days until you can do it again.

...or to quote a phrase from Whitenoise's favorite book - The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

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Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had loud amps and metal bands to watch for 7 days and nights!

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous revelers of metal mayhem, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual depravity, merch theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, drunkenness, deceit, headbanging, crowd surfing, parking garage-diving, throwing elbows in the pit, throwing the horns in vain, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person, and cause blisters on thy feet.

Bang That Head That Doesn't Bang.

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Not done a full day metal event cause they don't happen in Aus.

Have been to one day apternative  festivals in my youth but to be honest they had nothing on a pub gig in terms of vibe or intensity or intimacy.

But then I used to be a full on headbanger with short hair and never wore earplugs so 3-4 hours of headbanging with only intermittent breaks and my neck would need physio for next several weeks and I'd have white noise in my ears for next 3 days.  Can't imagine doing that at a 3 day festival.

 

Also many pits are literally suffocating so again doing that for 2-7 days would be beyond exhausting.  At some of the festivals I was in you literally couldn't move in the pit and breathing was difficult.  It was a godsend when the band would throw water blinto the crowd 

 

These days it is stand back with ear plugs but that is not even close to old experience in the pit - it is far less viseral, far less intense and far less raw.  I occassionaly will cut sick in pit but it hurts more now.  And only for local bands in small gigs.  Big gigs it is seating as wife usually comes as well 

 

Still not keen on idea of standing in a field for 3-4 days straight in the sun. 

 

Thoouh low blood pressure means standing around for a long time makes me faint!

 

I can see how people might enjoy it but I still think 3-7 day festivals with hundreds of bands is crass consumerism and musical gluttony.

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On 8/5/2022 at 8:21 PM, SurgicalBrute said:

Honest question...Have you ever attended a multi-day metal festival? Not trying to start anything, I'm just asking because it seems more like you're assuming rather than talking from experience.

I won't deny that at my age, my back and feet will start to hurt after a couple of days, but have you ever stood for hours at a time? Not walk around, not lean on something, but just stood there in the blazing sun? Because whether it's a one day, 6 - 8 band festival or a multi-day festival where you see 6 - 8 bands each day, I promise, it's very likely you're still going to hurt. That's why you take breaks. You go sit down with your friends, get some food, re-hydrate, and rest up for another round of bands.

See, it sounds like you're looking at it like it's some non-stop endless dash from one stage to the next, from start to finish, and yes...there are absolutely people who will try to do that, but they're generally young, fit, stupid, very drunk or some combination of that. Nothing is stopping you from taking as much time as you want between sets. Nothing is making you stand back up and wander back into the crowd except you.

...and honestly, you'd be surprised how quick that tired and sore feeling fades when a band you like comes on stage. This past MDF, day 4 was probably the busiest as far as bands I wanted to see. It was also the best I'd felt since the first day, and I actually finished it out with barely any pain.

As for drifting attention spans or forgetting bands later into the festival, again just my personal experience, but I've never really found that to be an issue. Some sets stand out more vividly to me over the years, but I can look at the lineup from any year since I first started going to MDF and tell you which bands shit the bed, and which ones put on a hell of a show.

Finally, don't conflate what I said about feeling worn out at the end of a festival with any dampening of enthusiasm for a festival. If anything, the next several days after it ends will usually have you on a high, wishing it could have gone on longer and counting down the days until you can do it again.

...or to quote a phrase from Whitenoise's favorite book - The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

This guy MDF's. Agree with everything Surge says here. It can be a slog at times, but with planning and experience you get through and have fun. Pacing is the key. I love festivals and dirty club gigs equally. Festivals however give you the opportunity to see bands you never would ordinarily. For instance, I've seen Emperor, Tryptikon, Destruction, TROB, Demoncy, Candlemass, Mortician, Coroner, Demolition Hammer, Nuclear Assault, Rippikoulu, Satyricon, Cult of Fire....the list is long. These bands would never tour anywhere near me if they tour at all. Sometimes, a fest may be your only chance to see a band. Case in point, going to see Mercyful Fate in a few weeks. They don't play outside of fests anymore.

I did 5 days at MDF this year with the pre-show. It was much. I was a little crispy by Sunday. Still had a blast. 3 days at Hell's Heroes which is the perfect amount imho. Will do 3 at Psycho. A 7 day fest sounds rough, not sure I could hang.

These fests are also time away with the guys. I travel with a group of 3 of my best friends. I look forward to that just as much as the shows. It's also some of the only time I get away from day to day drudgery. Escape from reality. If I didn't get to go with this group, I'd still enjoy the fests, but not as much. I love time with the wife on vacation, but I'm usually bored as hell and have to compromise a lot. Sit around for hours for her to get ready to go do something meh. Metal fests mean I get to do what I want when I want.

Navy's rules for festival success

1. Take multiple pairs of shoes. Rotate them daily. Pack more skivvies and socks than you think you will need.

2. Don't drink to excess. Never understood spending big bucks on tix to see a show only to get obliterated before the good shit starts. Throw in adequate amounts of water between beverages too. Don't take drinks, pills, or candy from strangers either. Be safe. A trip to the hospital or jail in a strange city wouldn't be fun.

3. Ibuprofen is your friend as is ear pro.

4. Don't try to see every band, and if one isn't stiffening your willy, walk out and find a place to chill for a bit. Plan your days to make sure you know who, when, and where you want to be. There will be sacrifices. Choose wisely.

5. Stay out of the pit and off the rail. Leave that shit to the kids.

6. Talk to random people. Metal heads are without a doubt some of the nicest and weirdest people on earth. I've hung with people from all over the world and met my fair share of band members. All genuinely cool people with rare exceptions.

7. Get in town the day before. Helps account for travel delays and give time to get acclimated. Take the day off after you return. Makes unpacking and catching up on sleep easier.

8. Have a travel kit. Add to it as you go. I have a dedicated lot of charging cables, ear pro, toiletries, meds, and other general necessities ready to go at all times. Makes packing easier and more reliable. 

9. Don't stay in shitty places. A comfy hotel room makes rest and recovery much better.

10. If it's a new place for you, get out and see something cool. Local record shops are my usual target, but historical landmarks and oddities are big too. 

Navy's top festival list:

1. 70K Cruise - more fun than any of the rest. Huge variety of bands. Also you can sit for almost all shows. Most expensive fest by far. Attracts the widest array of people. Something like 100+ countries represented last time I went.

2. MDF - the grandaddy of US fests. Baltimore is a shit city, but this is the most well organized and most professional operation going. Glad to see it will be back in 24.

3. Psycho Las Vegas - catching up to MDF. Great location. Plenty of food, drink, and reasonably priced hotel rooms. More eclectic lineup that pulls in some heavy hitters.

4. Hell's Heroes - this is the next US fest to grow like crazy. I've been every year and attendance is going up exponentially. Mostly trad metal, but there is some variety (Dark Angel headlined one night this year, Oath of Cruelty is a regular, Whiplash). Starting to pull in the big boys. Houston is a cool joint with good food and cool people. Easy to get to. 

5. Mass Destruction - this was my first festival experience. Only 2 days. Usually gets in a decent lineup. If you want filthy club vibe, this is your best option.

I definitely have a few I want to get to in the future. I want to do a European fest, maybe Obscene Extreme. US-wise, Oblivion Access in Austin is on the agenda for next year. And possibly Messe de Morts up in the great white north.

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2 hours ago, KillaKukumba said:

With only about a dozen bands announced Wacken 2023 sold out (80,000 tickets) in 6 hours. Seems that a lot of fans want festival gigs too.

I suspect cheap air travel, autobahns and bullet trains has made them far more international too even in if the scope of Europe.  So the market for Wacken isn't just for Germans, Danes and Dutch anymore.  Someone in Spain or Greece or Estonia can now come too relatively easily.  When you consider EU is 447 million people then selling out an 85,000 strong metal festival is a far easier prospect than selling out a 20,000 strong one in Australia with its market of 25 million people.  In fact we don't even do pure metal large festivals - they're usually mainly pop ones with odd metal band.

 

I follow a few table top blogs.  These guys are mainly located in UK but they will travel to continental Europe a lot for both wargaming events and historical holidays.  It's so easy with for them - Eurostar highspeed rail, superb highways or really cheap and reliable air travel.

My brother just drove from Zagreb, Croatia to Prague, Czechia for a Rammstein gig.  700 km (7 hr) each way but doable.  He saw Iron Maiden in Zagreb which meant catching a tram!

----

Australia is far more expensive than Europe when it comes to travel (especially air travel) due to extremely poor competition and far lower population density.  

Travel is the biggest killer for me for gigs.  It's next to impossible to get truly cheap airfares when you want them.

 

One of the main airlines, Jetstar, is notorious for flight delays and cancellations.  Our last holiday they automatically rescheduled our arrival flight to 3 days later and that was a Melbourne to Brisbane flight.  Nearly half our holiday was gone.

We had call them up and had to actually extend the holiday to make it work by arriving in Brisbane early.

We've had similar issues with Virgin over the years but not as drastic.

 

Eg I just did a mock airfare booking for November assuming band playing on a Friday night.  For Europeans and Americans, I need a 45 minute flight (Launceston to Melbourne).   Fly in Friday, fly out Saturday

There's a couple cheap bookings with crappy unreliable Jetstar but average price is from $400 return.  That doesn't take into account credit card booking fee or other bullshit the airlines tack on.

 

Then add:

Airport transfers ($32 per person)

Accommodation ($150 on average)

Food

+ concert ticket ($100 for a lower tier band, $200+ for high tier)

 

It's $700-$800 for a one night gig!  If wife comes along then the cost has near doubled.

 

And again all of that doesn't mean I will actually make it to the gig because Australian airlines have dismal performance

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3184398/angry-australians-feel-qantas-hardly-reliable-flight

 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-22/worst-airline-performance-figures-on-record/101260822

 

Near 6% of all flights are cancelled (QANTAS is 8% cancellation).  Sydney to Melbourne cancellations run at just under 15%.

Only under 62% of all flights depart on time

Only  under 63% of flights arrive on time.

 

This doesn't even take into account flights that aren't officially late or cancelled because they were cancelled or rescheduled before the actual day of travel.

 

I found even before COVID we had big issues with flights.  Jetstar and to slightly lesser degree Virgin were always rescheduling.  Heavens forbid you had to catch a connecting flight.  If we did have connectors we'd allow 4 hours at the airport to take into account late first flight.  We seldom waited 4 hours as flights were nearly always late...but then the departing flight would invariably get delayed.  For international travel we'd allow 6-8 hours at the airport simply because the Melbourne customs is slow as shit.

I'm going to Cairns later this month and am dreading it given our airlines performance.

 

It's another part of the country's economy I would nationalise!

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