Thursday, September 17, 2009

Music Festivals

Sasha Frere-Jones is making sense:

I don’t go to lots of music festivals. If I need to lie on a big field with my friends, drink beer, and see into the eye of the universe, I can usually pull it off without the help of AEG Live. As for hearing music outside, the signal coming out of a big P.A. system faces many obstacles. Amplified sound has to battle with nature (noisily fertile wheat fields, rain) and man (cars being dismantled by meth-heads, talking). How can you deliver decent sound to all those people dispersed over a big, variegated area full of dead spots? Live sound engineers are brave and admirable people.

Sound is one reason I find it hard to love music festivals. The other reason is a logical take on the cost-benefit ratio. Bands who play these festivals also appear at indoor venues where sound is more easily managed; the particular bills of particular festivals never seem like magical opportunities. What’s the point of suffering through unpredictable sound, short sets, and spinners if you can spend less time and money seeing your band of choice in a venue designed for live music? (I can wait the extra months.) I like music and I like sunshine and I like people (within reason) but music festivals have led me to rethink these positions.

I feel exactly the same way. Is there anything good about music festivals? I guess you see a lot of acts for a relatively little bit of money. But you barely see them. They play for 40 minutes and you are 1/2 a mile away. It's usually hot or rainy. The sound usually sucks. You get bleedover from other stages.

Meanwhile, I could see these bands play when they come to town, get awesome sound, be 20 (or at least 200) feet from the stage, and get a 2 hour set. I know which sounds better to me.