With birds singing again and cats bellowing under the moon (tell me about it), spring slowly reappears, with its sunshine and sweet wind. Besides, announcements of line-ups for festivals burgeon on the Web, putting a smile on every fan’s face.
Then comes the awful moment when you click on the section “prices”.
Suddenly, stars appear in your eyes, you lack oxygen and can hardly breathe. After a moment of shock, you have no choice but to end up in tears on your laptop. Then, you start thinking about any improbable way to make fast and legal money. As nothing comes to your mind apart from spending your little money in gambling and possibly winning, one thing to do remains : crawl up in a foetus position under your bed sheets and weep until the pain goes away.
This is something I have experienced for some years. And every year I think, “I’ll go next year, FOR SURE, I’LL FIND A WAY TO GO, I’LL SELL THE HOUSE AND THE PARENTS AND THE CAT (If I’d ever own one).” But the months go by and you forget about it, and meanwhile, the prices never drop.
Last summer, I was lucky enough to win tickets for the last day of Rock en Seine festival, a very popular rock festival happening in Paris at the end of August. As I was casually stalking on Facebook (hey, summer is not only about partying and beach volley), I randomly came across a competition. You only had to answer a dozen of questions about the artists performing. The fact is that it was all about speed. BUT I REALIZED IT ONLY WHEN I WON, BECAUSE THE TIME IT TOOK ME TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS WAS MENTIONED NEXT TO MY NAME. Which means that, if I had not been lazy by the tropical temperature and aware of that, I would have been a hundred times faster and won a 3-day pass. Anyway.
I was so happy because I NEVER go to festivals. Well, I have been to one of them, the Eurockéennes de Belfort in 2006, to see MUSE as the cloture band. It was €45 a day (£38), and remains a terrific memory. It was the first time I experienced the craziness (I precisely remember a naked guy running around the parking lot, screaming “I love psychedelic poetry!”-true story), fuzziness (oh, sleeping guy in the middle of the crowd, how hilarious you were) of a festival, where people gather in enthusiasm and -a bit of- alcohol and enjoy music. Plus, MUSE’s gig was simply mental, a powerful moment that I will bear in mind for my entire life.
Yet, why have I stopped going then ? Because they are way too expensive. The other reason is that they tend to be far, far far away from home, which means you also have to pay an enormous amount for transport, and this, added to insane ticket price, turn this perspective into unreachable fantasy.
Take Coachella, for example. I DREAM of going there, because for me, California (where it is held), is the quintessence of the reckless indie spirit. Just stand in the sun all day and play along songs about life and love while looking at the ocean. Nearly half of my iPod will be there : Neon Indian, M83, Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, The Black Keys, WU LYF, Yuck, The Big Pink, The Vaccines, Feist, Radiohead, First Aid Kit, and so on.
And when it comes to the price, my iPod cries in despair : $269 (£170) for a three-day pass, plus $9 (£6) fac fee+ $3 (£1,8) charity+service charges and shipping. The VIP pass goes up to $699 (£441). Yes. The wealthiest of you can also choose to opt for an all-included safari tent for the ridiculous amount of $6500 for two people. Oh, and I forgot : THERE IS AN OCEAN AND A CONTINENT BETWEEN COACHELLA AND ME, WHICH MEANS HUNDREDS OF POUNDS MORE.
So I guess, until I make a couple of thousand pounds a month, I can just fantasize about Coachella and its sunset gigs. And screaming along with dozens of thousands of Arcade Fire’s fans, while playing with gigantic balloons.
Then, even continental festivals are out of my league. Take Swedish Way Out West Festival : brilliant line-up with Bon Iver, King Krule, Florence + The Machine, The War On Drugs, great location the Swedish West coast, but unbelievable prices : £185 for a three-day pass. Without including the cost of the plane ticket and the camping. Heartbroken, I had to refuse the offer of my friend to go there, explaining I was already completely ruined living in the second most expensive city in the whole World. How foolish of me.
Let’s have a look at the newborn of indie music festival : Pitchfork Festival. Do you realize that ? The most referential indie music blog on the planet setting its own two-day festival! It could only be amazing, with the most hipster bands of the moment, beards and bleached girls everywhere within a crowd fueled with Ray-Bans. And it could only be insanely expensive. And SURPRISE! It was not. For the Paris edition : £67 for the two days, which is pretty fair for artists like Bon Iver (I know, AGAIN. Do they ever stop touring ?), Washed Out, Aphex Twin and Lykke Li. So, there is still some hope left.
So, it is a rant of despair and frustration that I send to festivals organizers : please guys/girls/whoever you are, PLEASE, think about broke students who can barely afford a gig at the O2 Arena (my bank account still remember the £45 for Red Hot Chili Peppers-even though they were completely worth it) and who would like to escape the narrowness of busy cities for the wide, wild spaces of festival fields without living on credit for the forthcoming months . May you have pity upon us, poor yet passionate fans.