Dating back to 2400BCE, when the Greeks weren’t battling Persians or naked wrestling, they indulged in a festival or two. Fast forward a few millenniums and Persia became Iran, wrestling is screened on Sky Sports 4 and the Greeks are only battling with their economy. But the festival season is thriving, the highlight of summer and top of the student bucket list.
With over two-hundred annual music festivals in the UK, it’s no surprise that it has become one of the fastest growing industries. Fuelled by the wildfire of viral marketing, discovering line-ups became a hashtag wonderland. Festivals flood social networks, evoking colossal hype, dividing the nation with eudemonia and jealousy. They're not an event, they're an experience.
Despite the digital age transforming the music industry, festivals are going strong. Video may have killed the radio star, but it's reinforcing festivals with behind the scenes coverage and phenomenally enchanting after-movies.
Unfortunately, the arthritic remainders of last century's music are tangling themselves and their tacky long hair in today's opportunities. They're taking centre stage when acts that could be their grandchildren should be. It's time to put the guitars down lads.
Old school rockers still dominate the festival scene - depriving the talent of today platforms they had decades ago. They don't need headline spots; they're established, ludicrously wealthy and well known. However, new bands like Slaves, Royal Blood or the Struts would give their right arm for this opportunity. Catfish and the Bottlemen singer, Van McCann, stated that his goal is to take his dad out for a few ‘nice steak dinners’ and buy his mum a Jacuzzi. These bands haven't got cash to spare, unlike the corporate gold mines of last century. (You know the ones with their merch shirts in Primark for £6.)
Why neglect the youth of today their big break by indulging these dinosaurs? Time to name and shame the pre-historic (and pre-iTunes) offenders.
- Metallica, Blondie, Glastonbury 2014
- New Order, T in the Park 2012
- Guns N Roses, Leeds 2010
Cue Aerosmith; rock legends of the 70s and 80s, famous for size: riffs, hair, lips. Peaked in ’76 with Rocks; nearly 40 years ago. Their latest album was a disaster. It’s not just in the studio - Aerosmith can't perform like they did in their prime.
Yet someone booked them to headline the heavy metal festival, Download. Aerosmith you don't belong here, keep out of Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold's territory. Someone's Excel spread sheet calculated the exact price, but ignored cultural value. Festivals aren't about profit. They're about big breaks and creating legends. Not a pensioner's final pay check. Ask Cowell if you can to join a judging panel instead.
Queens of the Stone Age or Kings of Leon would've been a more appropriate choice. Both had successful albums that year and are contemporary giants. Music has to move on. If bands from forty years ago dominated Aerosmith’s generation, it'd be monopolised by Jazz artists like Lawrence Tibbett and Al Jolson.
Modern bands fight too hard gain kudos. The industry is even more fiercely competitive than it was forty years ago (decades before the majority of current festival goers were even born). Winning the public's love isn't enough, they've got to battle with the destructive illegal downloading plague. Take the ethereal music of Florence and the Machine, fronted by a woman who can make the crassest harmony enchanting. After concocting two superb albums, the vibrant red head and her band achieved popularity in both the mainstream and alternative market. Dedicated to touring, the eclectic band crammed in as many live gigs as possible. Only stopping when recording or when singer, Florence Welch, suffered from unsurprising exhaustion.
But they're back with their latest album 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful'. The album was massively successful, with many of the tracks entering their top track list on the streaming site Spotify. Streaming is responsible for live performances becoming more profitable than album sales - new bands need to headline more than ever. Certainly more than Steven Tyler and his $130 million net worth.
Older bands have already earned their place in musical history. By indulging them with headline shows, we're depriving artists who are currently contributing to the music industry. They deserve to be rewarded for their talent and earn their own spot in the records (the history ones, not just their own). The modern day Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and ACDC need to take centre stage.
Cast your minds back to 2007, when music like the Hives, Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy played on primitive mp3 players and Arctic Monkeys headlined Glastonbury. Considering this was years before their mass success of AM, this was huge for the native Sheffield lads. Despite their magnificent performance, the group were eclipsed by Dame Shirley Bassey and The Who. Acts fuelled by white, middle class, middle aged male fans. There's nothing wrong with these blokes, but they're hardly the cool, creative youths that are supposed to populate festivals. Don't be fooled if they claim to have a vinyl player - it's not due to the revival, it's been in the attic for thirty years!
Naturally, these artists flooded the press, dominating the coverage of Glastonbury. Consequently, the press fixated on their gig, music boffs read the articles, discussing it on clichéd blogs or tweets, spreading the hype. The result? The coffin dodgers are booked for more gigs, fuelling the vicious cycle.
Today's icons should be the stars. Not some decrepit rocker who's shagged another Playboy bunny. It's important to appreciate, respect and be inspired by the past; just don't live in it! Otherwise, our generation's music won’t have its quintessential sound. We need our own legends. Festivals of the world; use your ears - not your spreadsheets. A wise man in a yellow jumpsuit once sang about breaking free. Let the heroes of today do just that...
About the Author:
Sal Wilcox is a music blogger/writer based in Newcastle and Leeds.
SHe's a lover of real ale, all things 70's and going to local gigs.
Read more from Sal - http://soundsofaneccentric.blogspot.com
What are your thoughts... Is it time for the old timers to step to the side and let the megastars of tomorrow cut their teeth? Or are festivals right to promote the same classic gods?
Comments on a postcard... or you know, in the comments box below!