Ask Festival Republic and they’ll say their goal was to keep the spirit of the festival and change as little as possible. Is this the case? Shitty toilets (as it were), an alarming count of 16 year-olds gurning on pills, odd reshuffling and renaming of stages, prevalent corporate sponsor logos emblazoned on the sound towers—Sky TV, Vodafone, Uggs—It seems as though FR almost went out of their way to piss off the regulars.
Reading through endless pages of people whining on said forums and even reading what Pete Lawrence, co founder, had to say—“it has followed the general trend of blanding out”—I had to stop and ask myself if this is in fact a bad thing. Sure, not being able to see Lily’s face when she announced to the 35,000 14 year-old girls that she’s pregnant was a shame (no video screens on the main stage? FFSWTF?!!), but boy if my testicles didn’t rumble during Kruder & Dorfmeister’s Depeche Mode remix. In other words, having more money (for things like, say, awe-inducing, brown-note validating sound systems) isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a festival. Ask some of the families that go to the Big Chill, and most will attest the their camping conditions have improved vastly, too.
Ultimately however, if you ask me, it’s about the music. Honestly. And while the Orb were tragically omitted from this years’ lineup in favour of Plan B (Say it ain’t so!), I still managed to find a cohesive, satisfying path through this years’ talent (Gilles Peterson—>Greg Wilson—>Joker) on Saturday night.
What I’m saying is, catering to a new generation of festival goers and not just aiming to appease the dinosaurs—and all this in an attempt to keep the Big Chill alive , mind—isn’t the worst outcome we could have hoped for. And if the Chill isn’t for you anymore, there’s always Festinho.