Now before we sink our teeth into Strictly’s latest feature we should lay down some ground rules. This column is all about throwing out ideas that the writers believe will improve the festival, first and foremost, from the fan and attendee’s perspective.
This doesn’t mean will be blind to the financial perspective or Melvin’s wants, far from it, but our primary goal will always be to stimulate discussion and get ideas flowing. Some ideas will be unworkable, some might divide opinion, but the point, in the tradition of Socrates, is to question everything. Reading ain’t broke, far from it, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use an oil change or a new sat nav every once in a while.
So without further ado lets sink our teeth into our first idea.
Pre Festival Events and Localised Expansion
Not exactly the sexiest title is it? But it represents one of the ways in which both Reading and Festival Republic could expand their reach, make some money, and earn an absolute heap of goodwill.
Reading and Leeds Festivals are an incredibly strong brand. Don’t let 2011’s slow sales fool you, the Festivals still resonate with music fans young and old up and down the country. Equally Festival Republic are a giant who hold incredible sway and have a history of having their finger on both the indie and rock pulse (we’re not being sarcastic honest). Unfortunately, while Reading’s site has expanded exponentially, to the point where it’s bursting at the seams with rock fans, the Festival has never really expanded beyond the August bank holiday weekend.
It’s about time Reading used its connections, its wealth of good will, and started building excitement and momentum in the months that lead up to the Festivals. Reading, Leeds, and London are perfect bases for expansion, not for huge festivals, but carefully constructed evenings: multi-band events, clubs nights, and high profile warm up shows. Reading should take a more active role in coordinating, curating and promoting run up events (many of which happen spontaneously anyway).
Smaller scale nights, with smaller price tags, to get people pumped, ready, and parting with their cash. By littering August with affordable run up events, Reading could own that month, with the Festival itself providing the grand finale. The bands wouldn’t have to be the exact same as the one’s on the line up, but imagine two weeks of low key intimate performances from the hottest up and coming artists with the Reading & Leeds name on the banner making it happen.
Those who can’t afford Reading or Leeds 2012 with it’s hefty £200 price tag, could get a taste of the excitement, be it at a club night or gig, and leave desperately wanting a glimpse of the real thing come 2013.
Ultimately, by using up and coming artist from the FR and BBC Introducing stage and the Festival’s name in a series of staggered events, FR could positively give back to the music industry beyond the bank holiday weekend. They can create a climate of inclusion that makes three of the country’s finest cities feel genuinely connected to the festivals. There are so many different approaches from intimate acoustic performances by big name artists and bills stacked with upcoming artists to superstar DJ sets and Reading Festival pub quizzes (why not Rough Trade do it?). The exact look and feel is unimportant, the ultimate goal is the to make the Festival the crown jewel, the grand crescendo, of a month long celebration of exciting new music.
If Field Day can have pub gig nights and NME can have an entire month of award show gigs, then the mighty Reading and Leeds Festivals are more than capable of bringing us a month of amazing events. Make it happen. David Hayter
If you have an idea for improving Reading and want to share it with your fellow festival fans, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll happily give you a platform.