another muddy festival?
another muddy festival?
another muddy festival?
another muddy festival?

It’s been a mixed summer for festivals, a real sense of soldiering on with the awful weather conditions.

In the wettest summer since records began I seem to have spent the summer wading through mud or trying to perch of tufts of grass and defying the wearing of wellington boots.

If there is one tried and tested rule in rock n roll it’s that women can look great in wells whereas men look like old farmers.

It begs the question- have we hit a crossroads in festival culture?

The festival boom started in the late sixties and boomed in the post cid house period when big gatherings became the norm. The culture has accelerated ever since to the roughly 700 festivals that there are in the UK this summer.

There have been several cases of festivals going bust, some using the weather as an excuse and some ring spectacularly wrong like the punk festivals in Bath and Portsmouth.

With a large amount of festivals there is a case of naivety or badly planned bills and also a sense of the hijacking of festival culture far away from its counter culture roots to a burger and chips circuit of soulless corporate events where the music is a hotch pitch of mainstream indie acts peppered with pap starlets with zero charisma flogging their hit.

The weather hasn’t helped either and it’s been quite a grim experience going to festivals those day.

Is it time for rethink?

Do we need more ground cover? do we need better facilities that take into account the inevitable mud bath? like proper pathways and some kind of shelter? do we move some of the festivals indoors or to holiday camps?

Does anyone want to address this or do we feel that it is fair to charge people a lot of money so they can grin through gritted teeth about the ‘festival vibe’ whilst caked in piss stained mud?

Will people keep travelling abroad for the warner festivals?

Are we content with the some of the bills? does the ironic pop stuff work at festivals? are we losing site of festival culture?

or is everything great out there?

please comment!

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Festivals are about having fun and watching great bands. As we saw at Heaton Park and Galtres festival last year. The weather/mud can only bring people together at these events. Making the whole vibe different and people unite as one big family, soilder on and enjoy themsleves. It really dont bother me that much weather its muddy or not. I will still be there with a cider in hand and smile on my face.

  2. I think I’ve done my fair share of festivals over the years and reported on them on my site and it’s evident that the corporate pigs with their money talks agenda are screwing it up… The demise is all about the money and the quality of the line-ups.
    Even your beloved Stone Roses got it half wrong – the line up was (almost) spot on (Plan fucking B!!?? – in a Skrewdriver t-shirt??) – but the prices once an audience is captivated were (and always are) hiked beyond the reasonable. Yes, we will make the effort for something as momentous as the Stone Roses, but it’ll mean we can’t afford another one that month, possibly longer cos it’s such an expensive outlay.
    People are voting with their feet, not only are there too many to choose from and every price is doubled once you’re inside, but the dross that are getting on the bill is shocking..!
    One trip to V last year put paid to me ever returning… Olly fucking Murs, fucking Rhianna, Sabre whatever his fucking name is, Plan fuckin B (him again), The fucking Wanted, The fucking Saturdays, Tinie fucking Tempah…? I’m about to lose mine if I don’t stop..!!! These aren’t bands, they’re not even musicians, they’re production line karaoke bollocks created to take the money from the kids and ruin our festivals. And don’t get me started on the glut of Tribute Bands taking the places of real bands with real songs… The whole thing stinks.. We need a punk rock revolution and we need it now…
    I’m off to Rebellion in a couple of weeks – £130 for 4 days of REAL bands, AND a new bands stage has been added.
    Review to follow…

  3. I think we may see an increase in Festivals taking place in holiday camps, or taking over a number of venues in an urban centre on the back of this. This summer’s disasters are going to make people very much aware of the risks to audiences and organisers alike.

  4. Having worked at Leeds/Reading and the Big Chill ,The whether is a massive factor to the mood ,Having ran cadence festival using pubs as venues in a town and having to move the outdoor stage inside to the biggest night club in the town at short notice , I for one have already put plans in place to either have the main stage in a marque or club / hall next year.

    The big festivals i think would struggle to offer more cover from the whether or put paths and track ways in as these even sink in extreme whether like this year , I remember Glastonbury 2006 the wettest on record and the year after had very poor ticket sales due to the fact of very bad conditions.

    I have already seen lots of my friends now going to Belgium and Spain to see great bands at lower prices as they don’t have to factor in for bad whether.

    I think next year is the test because anyone who has been to festival this year especially if its there first i think will not go again no mater who is playing .

    Using holiday camps is perfect because it dont matter what time of year it is and the accommodation is there on site.

    I think big festivals have had there day if the whether continues in this pattern ,last year was just as bad,

  5. British festivals are poor in comparison with foreign. You go abroad, you get the sunshine (usually), you don’t queue for beer, you don’t queue for toilets (and they’re cleaner than here).

    With the cost of tickets, you expect to actually see the bands and not spend most of your time in a queue.

  6. Music festivals crossed over into the mainstream several years ago which brought the inevitable commercialisation and sponsorship deals as well as an influx of “festival fashion” types. Over the last few years the number of festivals in the UK has reached saturation point. With the music industry being as it is, the festival circuit is still a lucrative staple on a majority of acts touring schedule. My main gripe is that most of the ticket sales goes to overpriced food and drink sales and the obvious costs associated with turning a field in to a gig venue.

    In my opinion, the way forward is more festivals akin to Liverpool Sound City and Camden Crawl. With these, the venues are already set up for gigs with standard bar prices, as well as providing shelter from the British “summer” weather so ideally being within short walking distance. Small “pop-up” venues and outdoor stages can be erected as necessary. The best part of this is that festival-goers get a good taster of the local music scene and the local economy gets a good boost in the process.

    here is always going to be a market for smaller, niche festivals in unique spectacular locations but for me the whole “pick a field, book a load of artists and watch as the punters roll in” ideal is dead. I can however foresee more urban events in the spirit of warehouse parties of the 80s, organised by those passionate about music rather than money.

  7. It’s less about the music and more about the place to be seen. V and Glastonbury gave been lIle that for years. But festivals like reading and Leeds are increasingly attended by uni students as a must do while in uni. That’s why festivals sell tickets before the line up has even been announced. Too many Bands play the festival circuit and repeat year after year. That said when the weathers good nothing beats it and when the weathers bad….

  8. Whilst not being a big fan of festivals on the whole myself (much rather see bands indoors really) many people do enjoy them so there is a need to be catered for. But I think that over the past few years its clear that the commercial element has become even more pronounced and we have seen opportunists trying to cash-in and the various disasters that follow that sort of behaviour.

    Also as mentioned above some of the bills need looking at because they’re full of bands that don’t compiment each other and there seems to be a “stack them high and leave them to rot” approach to audiences. As also mentioned above, people will increasingly vote with their feet because most don’t want to be treated like cattle and pay hundreds for the opportunity.

  9. Foreign travel is the answer you avoid most of the English piss throwing nob heds and the bands are better like the man above said who wants to see manufactured pop rubbish for huge prices #punkrockrevolution

  10. Having spent many years attending the Reading festival during the 80’s, I eventually stopped going due to the emergence of the ‘corporate’ mentatilty. Space for the crowd was given over to over priced merchandise and beer and the whole experience became overcrowded and unpleasant with fairground attractions being used to distract from the weaker and weaker line-ups. Security became over zealous and the whole ‘festival’ atmosphere seemed pretty much dead and buried.

    In the last few years however I have discovered the joys of foreign festivals. Good weather, cheaper, cleaner, better organised with stellar line-ups and you avoid the dreadful car crash that is the British cider drinking punter on a sunny day (should there be one!) In addition you often discover new local bands. The festivals are often limited in size with a capacity of around 20,000 which in my opinion makes the whole thing far more comfortable and allows you to be able to move around within the festival with relative ease. Camping is also close to the arena…something that UK organisers don’t seem to feel is an important consideration.

    My advice, forget the UK and embrace the European festivals!


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