I’m always surprised by the level of vitriol that the festival engenders lately.
I mean, the general public have very little criticism; last year I could barely move ten feet without being slapped on the back and told that it was the best PFF ever. The only post-festival complaint I heard was that the t-shirts didn’t have the year on them (we’re remedying that this year!).
But the whole summer had been a barrage of anger from ex-Board members, who hated that we were adding a beer tent and hated that we were moving the festival to Saturday. I couldn’t understand it at the time – I mean, some of these people had campaigned for a beer tent when they were on the Board, and the change of day just seemed like common sense, from a promotions standpoint.
This year I’m getting a lot of anger from musicians who didn’t get booked; like, a really disproportionate amount of anger. We don’t pay all that well (I do my best with the funds I have), we’re not super high-profile. We’re one of the smallest-budget festivals in Ontario. Our audience is almost entirely drawn from people in this County. I was having a hard time piecing together where the rage was coming from.
Some claim that they’re angry because I’m not booking enough local acts, but a glance at my lineup this year reveals, if anything, too many local acts, or acts with local ties (it’s awesome though – seriously – but I might be in trouble with one of my funders if I’m not careful). I generally book about 50% local, but this year it’s a lot higher.
I’ve also had a few out-of-towners rage at me.
But, in thinking about it, and talking to people about it, it seems pretty clear that the anger, the vitriol, are all coming out of the success of the festival. It’s artistically better, more beautiful, better-attended, better organized, more fun, and higher-profile than ever before. I’ve worked on the festival for a long time, and I’ve never heard anything more than the occasional grumble from bands who didn’t get booked until the last couple of years. Nothing like this.
But then, you don’t get angry about not getting booked for an okay, mediocre or shitty gig. We’ve made the festival a good thing, and as a result, people get pissed off when they don’t get in.
So, crazy as it is, I’m going to take every bitchy thing that’s said about me or the Board or the festival by a musician as a testimony to our success. Because if they didn’t care about whether or not they got in, I wouldn’t be doing my job.