Are Foals right about old bands clogging up the festivals?
Last week former Oxford University indie band Foals expressed their frustration at the current festival circuit claiming that the old bands reforming had clogged it up and stopped ‘new’ bands like themselves getting more headline slots.
Speaking to the Daily Star about their headline slot at Latitude festival Yannis Philippakis described the small group of bands who repeatedly headline festivals in the UK as a “big problem”, saying: “There’s a big problem with old bands who always occupy the top slots at festivals. More heritage names reform every year, which only makes it worse. It really limits bands of our generation. We don’t get a fair chance to headline, because the slots are reserved for the same old names.”
Philippakis went on to say: “You get people in their late 30s going to festivals, in their dungarees with a couple of kids, wanting to relive their adolescence, pretending they’re baggy again by watching The Stone Roses. They aren’t in touch with what’s going on now. I’m bored of seeing some dude from the ’90s headline, it means nothing to me.”
In many ways he is right but as many promoters point out the younger bands just don’t sell the tickets when they get the headline slots.
No-one wants a music scene bogged down in its glorious past but there is very much a dislocate between what is perceived as being happening and what people really like. Bands like Foals get a majority of media attention which makes them look bigger than they really even if they sell a healthy amount of records and can sell out 1500 capacity venues the next step is a big step. Is it a case of bands like Stone Roses getting in the way or Foals not being the big festival band that people want?
Which bands are new anyway? Foals are three albums and nearly ten years into their career since they formed in Oxford and were influenced by veteran bands like Sonic Youth. Is this a case of which retro bands you like? or a genuine frustration at the trend for promoters to book bands who sell tickets? They do have a point about the same bands clogging up the circuit but who is there to replace them?
There are also all sorts of festivals these days with Latitude catering for the well healed indie fan with Foals headlining one day and Bloc Party (hardly a new band either!) headlining the next. The music scene is split into niches these days and there is space for everybody unlike years ago when there were a handful of festivals.
Are Foals big enough to headline a Glastonbury or Reading? are big bands reforming causing this problem? or, despite being one of those bands that gets loads of radio play and glowing press reviews bands like Foals just don’t break out of the small Guardian/BBC hipster indie scene?, there are plenty of new young bands on the rock scene who get no radio play who draw huge crowds or bands like Courteeners who can sell 20 000 tickets in Manchester and get no radio play- it’s all about perception.
There’s an endless list of great bands who have never broken out as festival headline big in the history of music, is that the fault of the ‘dungaree wearers’?
What do you think? do you agree that the Stone Roses should move aside for Foals? do you think the festival circuit has become bogged down in the past? and just what is a young band anyway?