Truck Festival organizer Robin Bennett has spoken to DiS about Glastonbury, following yesterday’s DiScussion article (linkage) on the festival’s slower-than-usual sales.
Truck – back for its eleventh year in July and sponsored by DiS (ticket information follows) – is, like Glastonbury, held on a farm. It’s here that Bennett begins:
“Speaking as someone who asked a friendly farmer if I could do a gig for a few friends on the back of one of his trucks sometime last millennium (1998), after finding the bland fare of X96 (name changed - and there wasn't much else on that year) rather distant from my visions of the Woodstock movie, I have been fascinated to witness festivals becoming a sort of obligatory British summer pursuit (replacing cricket - or so it seems at some of the new 'boutique' events where the audience would surely have been at a cricket or polo match ten years ago).
“Glastonbury was always the brightest star, with genuine spiritual and political credentials. I often felt inspired for months after going. It may be that some of this edge has gone, or at least been banished to the fringes, since Mean Fiddler took a large stake - certainly the mystics, masseurs and tofu-burgers of Glastonbury town have a harder time blagging their way in now - but the current 'slow' ticket sale must be put in perspective - there are simply many many more festivals than there were before, targeted at ever more specialised audiences.
“This may have deflected some of the Glasto socialites and it-crowd - but as Huw Stephens mentions [in the DiScussion], it will still sell out.
“Does the amount of time spent hitting 'return' on some online ticket site, or repeat-speed-dialling a ticket hotline at 9am one morning, hoping the boss doesn't notice, bear any relation to one's enjoyment of a weekend in June? Perhaps not.
“Since last year, no less than three credible major festivals have appeared on ‘my’ Truck weekend (I say ‘my’ because it is my birthday), and that's just in the UK - there are numerous others around Europe too. I'm pretty sure there are enough music and festival-lovers to go round all of them. Maybe selling tickets takes a week or two more. Does it matter?
“At a recent meeting with organisers of several other festivals, one interesting point made was that the effort, energy and expense of putting on a real festival (as opposed to a line-up in a field) is spent in many unseen directions. Those magic atmospheres don't happen by accident - there is a lot of love and sweat involved. There are trade-offs everywhere. Do I sell food concessions, or let the Rotary Club sell burgers for charity? Do I become Carling Truck festival, or let cross-dressing freaks sell pear cider?
“Inevitably, even a rebel like Glastonbury becomes the establishment, and innovation starts to happen on the fringes, but there's a place for both in the firmament. There's even a place for a line-up in a field. But be aware, the mentality and spirit behind festivals are as different as Tesco and your local farm shop. What makes a festival 'real'? Is it celebrating anything? Does any love go into it? Or is it a money-grab? You have to decide.”
Tickets for this year’s Truck Festival (July 19-20, at Hill Farm, Steventon) – priced at £60 – are available here. Limited tickets are available from local outlets…
OXFORD: The Scribbler 01865 727524
SS20 0845 658 5520
Music Box 01865 204119
Videosyncratic (Cowley & Summertown) 01865 792220
ABINGDON: Mostly Books 01235 525880
DIDCOT: Baby John’s/Windjammer 01235 818 511
WALLINGFORD: Toby English Books 01491 836389
WITNEY: Rapture 01993 700567
READING: Guitar Works 01189 589333
HIGH WYCOMBE: Counter Culture 01494 463366
Find the official Truck site here.