10 Tricks the Festival Industry Love to Pull…

Empty pockets

Empty pockets

We’ve all seem those endless lists of annoying people and behaviours at festivals. Hell, we even had a dip ourselves last year, taking a swipe at the endless ever decreasing moan-a-thons employed by the rising tide of festival fascists.

But do we let the festivals themselves off the hook? It’s all very well endlessly blaming the poor punters for not getting with the party spirit, but sometimes it’s actually the organisation behind the events themselves who’re most at fault for bringing down the shit-storm.

We’re obviously not talking about the kind of unseen disasters that make for viral YouTube videos of tents floating away on seas of mud. This is all about those conniving double crosses that money hungry promoters think that their crowds will simply swallow.

Ultimately festivals are meant to be cool and down with the people, so here’s are list of slick corporate sleight of hand manoeuvres that can simply do one:

Paying for VIP Access

You’ve always fancied yourself as a cut above the ordinary reveller, and now’s your chance to prove it with a VIP ticket to your favourite event. So wearing your favourite hat and your most fashionable t-shirt you boldly bowl into the exclusive area only to find it seems to be somewhat full of other people who are light years away from even the Z-list TOWIE crew who you imagined might be in here.

There’s a queue for the sofas and the rumours that Nick Grimshaw might have been spotted nipping in to use the toilets seem to be as VIP as it gets. Funny thing is, now you’re standing wondering as to the identity of all the other tossers who seem to surround you in VIP, those in the main arena seem to be having a whole lot more fun.

Our Words of Wisdom: If you have to pay to be VIP, you ain’t VIP.

Celebrity Brand Ambassadors Placed at Festivals
When brand marketers get it wrong, boy do they get it wrong. In their heads they probably think that paying a bunch of celebrities to wear the right gear in all the prominent places at selected festivals is the best way to sell a product. Most festival goers in the right mind tune this bad background hum out like a cheap sidebar ad on Facebook.

So the truth is that these marketers are well off the mark. Who cares what the latest minor Kardashian is wearing at Coachella and more to the point doesn’t allowing this sort of behaviour at your festival completely damage your credentials? Fight for your image festival organisers and don’t let your wonderful bubble away from the mainstream become another theatre for its sales tactics.

Our Words of Wisdom: I’ll give you Beats by Dre.

Stopping Burger Vans from Selling Soft DrinksBurger van

OK we get it. We really do. Festivals must make money to survive, but at what point does a modern event move beyond self-sufficiency into the realms of downright daylight robbery? Could it possibly be when burger vans aren’t allowed to sell bottles of water or soft drinks?

Yes, you may only want a little soft refreshment and you may have already spent £80 over the weekend on overpriced pear cider, but the powers that be have blocked both you and the burger man enjoying a pleasant transaction at an event that has undoubtedly cost you both a ton of cash.

Our Words of Wisdom: You can lead a promoter to water, but you can’t make him think.

A Whiff of Luxury 

Aren’t festivals fun because you get back to nature? You have to ask exactly how good we have it in this country when people are demanding an extra level of service throughout the festival site. From concierge bar service through to log cabin toilets it seems these events, which were once known as great equalisers, are finally becoming caught up in the class struggle.

We already live in a two tier world and festivals that want to bring down the divide in order to make a buck out of a corporate arse wiping service whilst the rest of us sniff petrol out of an Evian bottle and doing more damage than they possibly realise to the most important thing about their party – that ephemeral sense of togetherness.

Our Words of Wisdom: Keep these disgusting people away from me.

Sound Restrictions 

At a festival you want to bleed through your eyes with the bass coming out of the speakers, but at some of the UK’s events today you’d wonder if they could ever find a middle ground between sotto voce and a glaring forte tone. People want to party and if they can’t hear the music then they certainly aren’t going to be dancing.

Why not take notes from the festivals that manage to do it right, like The Secret Garden Party with their bales of hay sonic enclosures? Rather than employing sound restrictions how about events spend a little more of their money on containing sonic vibrations and give both party heads and disgruntled neighbours the best of both worlds.

Our Words of Wisdom: Pump up the jam.

Too Crammed 

Doesn’t everyone love 50% extra? Not when this common supermarket tactic is applied to a festival audience. Even though the extensive grounds and camping spaces might support an extra 10,000 people on last years’ numbers, the arenas and performance tents are exactly the same size.

Whilst people are generally happy and accepting of the fact you have to rub shoulders, no one likes it when there’s not even enough space to breath, although the really experienced promoter pulling off this trick will still make sure that attendees have just the right amount of elbow room to get their hands in their pockets for the bar.

Our Words of Wisdom: Sometimes it’s no fun to be another face in the crowd.

How Many Bands? 

Back in the glorious fledgling days of festivals there was one and only one stage.  Everyone used to cram round and get involved in the music on offer and a wonderful vibe was had by all as you built up friendships with the people sitting nearby. Not everything might be to your taste, but ultimately this gave you an unexpected musical education.

Now festivals are like mobile phones. The crowd are disjointed as each individual tries to make their own bespoke schedule up from the huge number of different stages on offer. In the rush to find something that suits their specific want at any given moment, the bigger picture of being together and partying is lost as you march round checking programs.

Our Words of Wisdom: Focus, focus, focus.

Silent Discos


Rock N Roll is music from the neck down… Or so said Keith Richards, and let’s face it, he ought to know. Music is meant to be felt and enjoyed, with the big vibrations coming out of the speaker rocking everyone right the way across the dancefloor.

So when it comes to silent discos, especially those that now have multi-channel sound blazing out three or four different DJs, how can there ever be any kind of vibe when people aren’t even dancing to the same kind of beat. Stop being so cheap and stump up for that extra late licence. 

Our Words of Wisdom: Silence is not always golden.

Making-Out you’re Boutique When you’re Blatantly Corp

Since a blueprint has been established for Boutique style events to follow, with their small-time acts, craft beers, stalls for the children and vintage concessions, the bigger boys in the business have managed to rip off the style.

Beware now of any event that appears to be going for that old time and easy feel, but has production values that are that little bit too high for your average event that can’t afford to pay a marketing department. This wolf in sheep’s clothing wants to bite into the love everyone has for small independent events and take the food off the table of those that actually care.

Our Words of Wisdom: You’re not so great, pretender.

Paying Shit Bands to Reunite 

Have you ever thought there might be a reason why an old band split up? Despite the fact they probably stopped getting on, they could have run out of music, imagination or just the will to continue. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

But not for events that have no imagination. They’re content to stick a bunch of aging rockers up on a pedestal and stuff their pockets full of money to play a gig with no real bite. Instead of spending all that cash on an unwanted reunion, why don’t you simply pay your bookers more money to work hard enough to scout out some real new and fresh talent?

Our Words of Wisdom: More than just a band on the run.

Now we’ve armed you with details on how these crafty operators run their short game, there’s no one to blame if you fall for their rouses than yourself. Equally if you’re the kind of promoter or business owner who is currently sweating, realising that this article is nothing more than a grim mirror held up to your own caustic practices, then use this as an alarm bell to change those nefarious ways.