For those who don’t live in Philly, there’s a pretty cool festival that happens there every year simply titled, This is Hardcore Fest. It’s a pretty big show, spanning 4 days, and featuring almost 60 different artists, so it’s pretty big. Fans of the show will be sad to hear some very discouraging words. On the fest’s Facebook page, there was post made pretty late at night. It’s extremely long for a Facebook post, but you get the idea of what it’s about within the first paragraph.
“The end is near.
The days of calling a weekend a festival and it being an automatic success are over. Hellfest, Krazy Fest, Positive Numbers, The Rumble, and plenty of others have fallen to the wayside over the past 10 years. A lot of different reasons but we will see a decline in the most popular festivals in the next couple years as every new promoter and agent love to get in bed with each other to create these new “fests” that fall short in all the categories, and yet as they fall their collective drop brings the weight down on the big names like This Is Hardcore, Black n Blue Bowl, United Blood etc.”
"What is going on? Why could this ever happen? The simple answer : Over saturation.
Too many bands, too many shows, too many fests.
Nothing is special, nothing is a one time thing.
Kids today live in a world where a show is like a bus, there is always going to be another one.
There are many kids that would drive 5 hours or more out of their hometown to see a band somewhere they don't live but won't put effort into coming into the city they live closest to on a weeknight.
The bands today are coming out so fast, they aren't even taking the time to write songs that may not have been written before, let alone bothering to Google around to see if their new band name was used by a hardcore/punk/metal core band before. Its a rush to get 3 songs on a bandcamp, 2 shirts on a merchdirect site and a 10 day tour supporting 2 other bands that can't draw 100 people in their own home town but want $250 plus each to play yours for the first time.”
Welp. It appears that this is going to be another rant about the state of music today, but this time from the perspective of a fest director. After reading the whole post, you get the feeling that the fest’s page is being treated as his personal Facebook, but with wider reach. Not to say that it’s a bad thing, but there’s something off putting about it.
After looking into it a bit more (AKA a few quick Google searches), you can find that the post is copy-pasted from Joe Hardcore’s (The Fest’s manager) personal Tumblr, which makes more sense. The post goes into a lot of detail, covering Joe’s own experiences in his business, the things he hates about it, and the things he loves about it.
You can read the full post HERE
It's probably best that you read the post, as it's impossible to cover all of the topics that the post covers. To paraphrase, however, as the post is extremely long and goes through a lot of feelings and thoughts, the main point concerning Hardcore fests is that Joe believes that costs of shows have gone up way too much, and the spirit isn't there anymore. He estimated the numbers it costs him, saying
“A show should be safe to book with about 50% to 60% of the room filled. If you are booking a room that holds 500, that means around 250-275 the bills and guarantees should be covered. Only now it’s more likely that the show will need to have 400 paid in a 500 person room to breakeven. More kids needed, more money needs to be charged and it pushes smaller promoters in small scenes to constant breaking points and makes every show a bitter contest of not what is best/fair/smart but what makes the most money for the band and agent and in the case of the promoter – how do I figure out how to lose as little money as possible?”
Not only is the money tight, he also says that the fans are becoming increasingly apathetic, and the bands are demanding more for less work. He says that the kids are “over-stimulated” and “over-immersed” with new stuff every day. The bands, he says, don’t put in 100%, and that
“They get told where to go, they get told what they are getting paid and they often have little to no real idea as to what they are doing because as long as the ride is going on- they will do whatever they think or here is best for the band’s career.”
He goes on to make many more points about getting a crowd going, saying that .jpg files online don’t have the same pull as fliers. He says that people have grown apathy and disdain for something to be collected and held “sacred”. That bands can’t experience “physical fliers for the show in the venue when they pull up”, and that he has “sympathy, empathy and apathy for them at various times”.
After all the points he makes about all the negative aspects of shows nowadays, he continues his post by looking at the positive parts. He says that despite the shitty fans that are out there, he still books shows for the kids who are really into the music. He writes
“There is more kids into hardcore then when I was young. Younger, brighter, less violent and more apt to make friends then I’d ever imagine. They take trains, buses, airplanes. They sleep on floors and outside shows, They pay in quarters and they hang with strangers just to see bands come together across a weekend of shows, sometimes they even do this a few times a year. These are the kids I write for. These are the kids I book shows for.”
And after all that, he concludes
"There is so much good in all of this that when we all work together for something good – its so pure and excellent that no one walks away unhappy and it lives on forever. The last few years have been happy and good times, but the politics, policies and problems that I've written about just now can weigh this thing of ours down and sink it to the bottom of the sea.”
So, there you have it. There’s a lot that was left out here, so you should definitely go read the post for yourself. It adds a different perspective to a different aspect of the music industry, and brings light to a bunch of issues that aren’t touched on very often.