Pic: one of the two cars on stage at the 2010 Strawberry Festival, along with some VIPs and one of many photographers
Festivals are coming around and we have the first story of the season.
The basic gist is that bookings were all over the place, including a complete schedule of three days going public before half the artists had even been contacted about it. It also involved many DJs feeling completely disrespected after working with Midi before and going ballistic about it on social media. However, what's interesting to me is that intrepid reporter Brian Offenther (DJ BO) decided to write it all up professionally for SH247. That's the link up there. This involved SH247, a future ticketing and promotions partner of Midi. Then things got heated, but after BO fought to have it put online, the Midi people came down and sorted things out, prompting much love online for said fearless reporter. Result.
It's interesting in that, this is far from the first time stuff has happened on the festival scene that involved disregard for the performers. But it is the first time proper action was taken to resolve it, because there was clearly a threat to sales and promotions - before the show.
Some of the more famous incidents that bands have gone public about in their dismay include Zhang Shouwang on the 2010 Strawberry Festival. The Love Stage was largely taken up by two show cars and a VIP tent. When he tried to go back stage he was told it was VIPs only. When he said he was in the band, showed his card and explained he just wanted some water, he was told that he wasn't a VIP - that was sponsors only - and that water was only free to VIPs. Major sponsors abound, show cars on stage, crane cameras flying around and VIP camps, and yet when Helen Feng jumped down off the stage and busted her knee that very same stage and festival, there was no staff help or facilities at all. They simply said that they couldn't help and walked off, leaving her to be carried out and hitch hike back to town with fans.
That same year, Helen wrote online about how they were often contacted many times about the same slot at the Midi Festival and it all tracked back to the Midi boss, who's name you can find easily. Midi got several bookers to compete with each other for bookings as some odd way to drive down the bands' fee without taking direct blame for it. Needless to say it barely makes sense, collapsed as an idea and ended up simply exposing the fact that the Midi organisers sat around brainstorming ways to pay the bands less.
As for the Shanghai Midi electronic stage, but it ran so well last time when the Antidote crew organised it, I hear you say. Yes, I wonder what happened there? I promised someone involved not to write the details at the time but ask around for the gist, and bring the sick bag.
What are we to take from all this? The whys and wheres of the festival scene here are many and mysterious. We can take this, that if you stay strong and speak out about stuff, it can make a difference, if it looks like it may effect the 'brand' or sales. An earlier incident at the Shanghai venue On-Stage made me think too. An incident happened but one of the four bands refused to let anything go public because they feared souring relationships. Like it's bad form to complain when someone punches you because you may embarrass the attacker and make it hard for them to keep punching people.