Cosmic Slop #116: Festivals Are 2017’s Dead Celebrities

By Shaun Ponsonby
Fri 11 August, 2017

Following issues at Y Not, Hope & Glory and BoomTown, Shaun Ponsonby believes that we’re hearing about failing festivals in 2017 as often as we heard about dying celebrities last year. 

My God, festivals are having a bad time of it this year.

All the talk this week seems to have stemmed from the ironically named Hope and Glory Festival, as well it might.

It feels like we’re all having a full emotional journey with it. First we were horrified, then we were angry, then we kind of found it funny, then we were confused, then we were hungry and had a sandwich, and then we gossiped about it for the rest of the week.

I won’t go on about Hope and Glory. We already posted a huge article about it on Monday, and it was very well read, thank you very much. Or at least my mum read it a lot. Although a few people who liked the line-up didn’t like that I didn’t like the line-up.

But H&G, as I think we can now comfortably call it, hasn’t been the only festival casualty this year. Indeed, it feels like festivals are the dead celebrities of 2017.

As I write this in my underwear with a stain on my crotch that I’m telling people is chocolate ice cream, there are reports that the BoomTown Fair are experiencing six hour queues for entry due to a three hour delay in doors being opened.

Many arrived at the festival site at 9am hoping to beat the long queues and ended up staying there an entire school day. Some have apparently passed out in the heat.

It got pretty bad.

Derbyshire’s Y Not Festival went to pot after Mother Nature decided she hated Two Door Cinema Club and took an almighty wazz over the festival site. It was alleged by people on the ground that the festival was unprepared for the conditions, and several acts were either cancelled or moved to a different stage without the audience’s knowledge.

Heartbreakingly, this included Matt Willis. Yes, THE Matt Willis, whose set was tragically allowed to continue on another stage.

The whole thing ended up being cancelled.

The festival season itself got off to a horrific start with Fyre Festival held on the remote Bahamian island of Great Exuma. Though, quite why people thought a festival co-created by Ja Rule would be a rip-roaring success is baffling. Nothing against him, but I don’t think he has even been making music since the mid-00s.

Stories from Fyre Festival makes it sound a little like a half arsed Jonestown, but with bands instead of Kool Aid. Actually, only one band played. Nobody had heard of them. Then everyone was told to go back to Miami.

Part of me is hoping that this is what The KLF are planning. Get a pub singer from Crosby to do a few cliché wedding songs in the Invisible Wind Factory. That’ll be £100 please.

So, why has this seemed to be happening so much this year?

The popularity of festivals over the last ten years or so is beyond what it was ten or fifteen years before that. Other than Daphne and Celeste, it is hard to remember international pop stars as big as Justin Bieber and Rihanna playing to festival crowds. Michael Jackson and Madonna never played Glastonbury in the 80s or 90s – although that would have been amazing, if only for the shot of Michael Jackson moonwalking in wellies.

But as the net has widened, there has been more demand for festivals. Consequently, more have been cropping up at various sizes. Often created by people who not only have no background in event management, but have in many cases never even attended a festival and has never considered all the work that goes into it.

I was pondering this the other day, when Reverend and the Makers made a brilliant point on Twitter following the Hope and Glory disaster.

The music biz attempts to maintain the illusion that all is rosy,” frontman Jon McClure stated. “Even the government tells us it’s a boom time for music. The reality is the boom affects about 20 pop stars. The vast majority of bands have nowhere near the income they did 20 years ago…The upshot is these days most bands you can think of will accept to play festivals if the money is decent. This in turn allows, at best amateurs and at worst gangsters to flood the industry with their money, imagining themselves as latter day Michael Eavis types, when the reality is their blatant disregard for health and safety , and lack of knowledge of how these events should be undertaken is putting people at risk. Unless something is done, somebody is going to get seriously hurt”.

And he’s pretty much spot on.

People may have been swindled recently, but at least even the worst conditions are yet to see a horrific incident. Most events are much safer than they were in decades gone by, Hope and Glory aside.

But only if correctly managed.


OK…Carpool Karaoke might work as a small, annoying feature on smug, annoying James Corden‘s TV show. But for the life of me, I have no idea how this is going to work as a series. The novelty wears off through overexposure, ya’ll.

If we all die over this Korea/Trump thing, I want you all to know that I never liked any of you.

RIP Glenn Campbell