Long live Soundwave.
Seriously, I hate these death posts as much as anyone, but there is a slowly rotting corpse in the room we need to talk about: Soundwave Festival.
Making its national debut in 2007, Soundwave Festival was a breath of fresh air. Finally a music festival that catered to the hard rock, metal loving younger and older generation. Soundwave Festival has been responsible for bring out the kind of bands no other festival would think of bringing.
As Big Day Out died, Soundwave thrived. As Big Day Out came crashing to the ground and seemingly was cancelled, Soundwave Festival had become Australia’s premier rock, punk, ska and metal festival (with the occasional hint of hip-hop thrown in).
But I guess it is hard to stay at the top forever. In 2015 Soundwave went to a two day lineup and also ditched Adelaide after posting a substantial loss on really low ticket sales.
Perhaps it was the two day format and controversy around mismanagement of the festival, debt and tax bills. But the first announcement for Soundwave Festival 2016 plus already announced bands is ringing alarm bells.
- Tickets went on sale way before the official lineup was announced
- The headliner is Disturbed
- The Prodigy is on the lineup
- A higher number of Australian acts compared to previous years on the main lineup
While lineups of years past have always been diverse, I mean in 2013 we got weed loving hip-hop collective Cypress Hill and they were awesome to see live.
All that said we need to talk about one of the mentioned acts: The Prodigy.
I am sure many who were around in 1996 when the track Firestarter was released will be happy to hear it again. Oh, and their other popular song Smack My Bitch Up which was released in 1997. Have they really had any hits since 1997?
Also let’s not forget The Prodigy were just here in early 2015 and played Future Music Festival (which has also been canned due to poor ticket sales).
I am not a music elitist, but since when did an electronic dance act who played at a festival that just had those kind of acts on it become a candidate for Soundwave? AJ Maddah is notoriously opinionated and picky when it comes to picking artists for the festival.
There is a reason that The Big Day Out, Future Music and a few other smaller festivals have failed over the last couple of years. Stale lineups and high ticket prices are what kill festivals.
The Prodigy being on the lineup isn’t the only reason Soundwave 2016 is looking like a public toilet turd. The tickets are expensive, AJ is highly opinionated with a bit of a complex and the festival is deviating from its original vision.
Touring festivals are dead
As can be seen in the United States, the touring festival model is broken. C3 Presents co-founder Charles Attal (the company that purchased 100% of Big Day Out before Live Nation purchase them) even said the biggest mistake they made with Big Day Out was keeping it as a touring festival.
One of the things holding Soundwave back is the fact it is a touring festival. Even though they dropped Adelaide, the festival logistically still needs to travel down the coast. This requires immense transportation costs for both equipment, staff and the artists themselves.
So while I do like some of the acts on the 2015 lineup, the festival which I have attended every year since 2007 is not exciting me as much as previous years. The 2016 lineup is so bad they might as well call it Soundwave Big Day Out Festival.
I will be skipping Soundwave Festival 2016, if it lives to see 2017 and they turn it around I might attend once more. However, my hopes for Soundwave are not high unless AJ dramatically makes some changes and let’s go of the festival reigns a bit.
The writing is on the wall: Soundwave Festival is going down the proverbial toilet. The lineup for the portaloos last year was better than the 2016 lineup.