Today marks the beginning of the resurrected Pemberton Festival. While part of me is sad I cannot attend, a larger part of me is still scarred from the horror I witnessed at the festival's first try. The following was written the day after my arrival back home after the festival. I can't stress enough THIS IS A REVIEW OF 2008! I'm sure the organizers have got their shit together this time. I mean, it can't possibly be this bad again.
Balls Consistently Dropped at Pemberton Festival, Also, Licked
How can you see with those dollar signs in your eyes?
Disclaimer: This is merely a review of the FESTIVAL ITSELF and not of the bands/music involved which were so stellar as to overshadow the atrocious lack of planning and complete disregard for anything beyond money by Live Nation, the company responsible for the festival.
Music Festivals seem like they should be put on by groups of individuals that truly desire to bring great music to a mass audience, in the name of good music and good times. However, an alarming trend seems to be taking hold throughout the festival circuit and it seems to have to come to a head (from this writer’s experience) with the inaugural Pemberton Festival.
Held in the limits of the beautiful municipality of Pemberton, British Columbia, the Pemberton festival promised hours of great musical acts in front of one of the most beautiful settings anyone could conjure up. They did a wonderful job of putting together a diverse, talented group of performers all the while forgetting those little cogs in the machine that help it run smoothly. The promoters, Live Nation Inc., a publicly traded company, decided that they knew what they were getting into and apparently decided to ignore the blueprints from every successful festival on this side of the Atlantic (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Sasquatch, to name a few) and go about their money-grab in the most gung-ho of manners, seemingly ignoring all logic and regard for human comfort. From a music-lover’s standpoint, the Pemberton Festival seemed like nothing more than an attempt at reaching as far into people’s wallets as they were willing to allow while giving them as little as possible in return. Just enough to keep the majority silent, right Boss?
First, let’s look at the ridiculous shuttle system they had from the parking area to the concert/camping venue. Christ Almighty, what a terrifying gong show that ordeal was. What brainiac came up with the idea to make everyone lug there camping equipment (which included lawn chairs, coolers, portable stoves and all other manner of awkward supplies) from their car to a security checkpoint where there were only 4 people at 4 gates checking the bags for tens of thousands of people? How could you not foresee the horrendous pace this would set right off the bat? I mean my lord, they sold the 40,000 tickets, they knew how many people to expect, but in typical overseer fashion, they neglected to acknowledge that fact. By the time the shuttle buses (which were ridiculously ill-equipped yellow school buses) started to arrive at nothing resembling a steady pace, a large number of the people waiting to board said busses were horrendously drunk and belligerent. The raping of the busses started as soon any bus would pull up in front of the mob...attacked from all sides and angles, including the opening and boarding Emergency Exits from the rear. Where was security to keep people in order? Were the initial ticket sales not high enough to warrant investing in a few yards of rope and some wooden stakes to indicate where lines should begin for boarding the bus? Did they forget they listed all manner of camping gear as what people SHOULD be bringing to the festival and that the gear people brought would need to be shuttled with them? Did they seriously consider how a mob of impatient people, which would obviously drink during the wait, would police itself? Did they honestly believe people were ready to sleep the night beside a fucking tarmac as a result of their ineptitude? I guess it can be hard to see all the small details when everything is tinted green.
The Crystal Method, Junkie XL, Chromeo, DJ Shadow and the Cut Chemist…these are all huge names in electronic music. Did Live Nation, in their infinite fucking wisdom, not think that more than 6.25% of the 40,000 attendees would want to see these acts? Use your fucking heads, dummies. Can we even imagine the staggering absence of logic that brought them to the conclusion that the only place serving hard alcohol (a precious commodity at a festival that doesn’t allow alcohol in the campground, a whole other logistics problem in and of itself) and featuring a stage with some massive names and a dance-all-day ethic should be able to only contain such a small number of festival goers. On top of that, no water was allowed to be taken in. Obviously this is an attempt to increase sales, but seems to go against every idea of safety that the human mind can come up with. After charging over $300 per tickets, they tell people no water is allowed in a DANCE TENT in the SCORCHING HELL-HEAT but that they are welcome to pay $4 for each non-refillable bottle of water they desire. It’s easy to tell alcohol from water at the entrance…open the lid and smell it. Or, even more easily, just have a water station inside the sectioned off area. How long could that have possibly taken? I’d venture a guess that it would have been about as long as it took to explain to people that they couldn’t bring water into the venue. Any bar in city limits that tried to deny dancing, alcohol-imbibing people access to water would be shut down nigh-immediately. It’s akin to water-deprivation torture and seems like a form of punishment for people who just wanted to dance and had already paid huge sums of money. “Thank you for supplying us with millions of dollars in revenue, but now you’re going to have to bend over so we can take a little more.” What a bunch of horseshit.