FESTIVALS–I’m always on the prowl for a new one to frolic around, a dope location to get lost in, people, art, and music to connect with–straight up–something wonderful to experience. I call myself a repeat offender at majority of the festivals that do it right, but to the festival producers and organizers, I’m known as a Super Fan.
A person who has an extreme or obsessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
That’s right, I’m obsessed with music festivals. Festivals are my world, my passion. I hit at least one (sometimes more) per month, and if I can’t do that, I make up for it with a bunch of small side shows or warehouse parties. But regardless if you’re a super fan, festival producer, or first time festival goer, it all comes down to that one word–experience. That is the word–the mutha-f!ckin’ boss. Experience is frequently used when people talk about festivals. It is the overall combination of everything at the event, from ticketing, getting through the gate, the music, the art, the food, the flow, the connivence of layout, the technology, the lighting, the production, the staff, bathrooms, overall vibe, you name it, it all plays a roll. A roll for success, that should not be overlooked…
All of these components of building a festival, and many more topics of interest regarding the music festival industry were covered on the vast intellectual panels at XLIVE 2016 this year. Formally know as IMFCON (The International Music Festival Conference), I’ve had the pleasure to attend this conference for the second time, and practically geek out watching the biggest names in the festival world I love, talk about how they make it happen year after year. Overall, I like to call this conference the meeting of the minds. These are the minds that make, create, and build what I love– Music & Arts Festivals. The people behind these little or sometimes massive, makeshift worlds of fantasy, culture, love, and adventure, are brought together at XLIVE conference, to speak, learn, and network together. Believe me, it is mind-blowingly amazing!
CLICK HERE to read about my first IMFCON experience!
This year not only did I get to attend and hear what they had to say, I also had the honor of speaking on the “Super Fan Summit: The Festival Fans That Saw It All” panel. Many topics our panel covered, coincided with what these big shot festival master minds were saying on their panels, what makes or breaks a festival whether new or old?
I became interested in knowing what festival experience aided or influenced them in creating their very own successful experience. So…I decided to pick their brains! Not only so I can see what they have experienced, but to gain insight on some festivals I possibly haven’t been to (including some they have created). The interviewees are mostly festival producers, with a few festival super fans and bloggers in the mix. Here’s what they had to say…(some more broad than others!)
“You guys are a driving force in creating very successful events.
What is one of your favorite festivals that you’ve attended,
that you have not worked on?
What made it great? How did you learn from it?”
INTERVIEWEES & ANSWERS
Who: JK McKnight
Company/Role: Founder and Captain Forecastle Music Festival, AC Entertainment
Company Festival(s): Forecastle Music Festival | Lousiville, KY, USA / Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival |Manchester, TN, USA/ Big Ears Festival | Knoxville, TN, USA / High Water Festival | Charleston, SC, USA/ Sloss Music & Arts Festival | Birmingham, AL, USA
JK admits he didn’t really go to many festivals but Tibet Freedom Concert (which was started by the Beastie Boys and is no longer) was extremely inspiring, because it was a party for a purpose. He also liked The Festival because it is a Beer Festival on a family owned farm and combines aspects of a boutique travel festival. Middlegrounds crosses renaissance with electronic which is interesting. Bourbon Fest was also educational for him.
Who: Joe Silberzweig
Company/Role: Director of Business Development, Insomniac Events
Company Festival(s): Electric Daisy Carnival | Las Vegas, NV, USA/ Escape | Southern CA, USA, Nocturnal Wonderland |San Bernardino, CA, USA/Beyond Wonderland |San Bernardino, CA, USA/ BassCon | Los Angeles, CA, USA/ DreamState | San Bernardino, CA, USA/ Life Is Beautiful | Las Vegas, NV, USA + more!
Inspiring Festival(s): Burning Man | Black Rock City, NV, USA
Burning Man provides interactivity between the art and the people, allowing the fans to create themselves. Eye opening as far as creativity for festival producers and organizers learning to incorporate their fan base with massive art.
Who: Tim Sweetwood
Company/Role: President, Shaky Festivals, C3 Presents
Company Festival(s): Shaky Beats Festival | Atlanta, GA, USA/ Lollapalooza | Chicago, IL, USA (Berlin, Brazil, Chile too!), The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience | New Orleans, LA, USA, Austin City Limits, Austin, TX, USA + more!
Inspiring Festival: Couldn’t pick one, says he’s a festival junkie! (I feel you Tim, me too!)
Something Tim took away from a festival was experiencing an event that gave him inspiration to create an artist bar outside from backstage. It allowed artists to interact with each other in an area where they could view the music and experience the festival themselves vs. being tucked away behind the scenes–a whole new atmosphere for them that was very successful.
Who: Billie-Jo Aasen
Company/Role: President, Talent Buyer, 542 Entertainment
Inspiring Festival: The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience | New Orleans, LA, USA
Why: Billie-Jo said the costumes at Voodoo we’re like nothing she has ever seen before! It was really inspiring how creative fans and the actual festival was.
Who: Ryan Kruger
Company/ Role: President, The RKET Group
Company Festival(s): Further Future | Moapa River Indian Reservation near Las Vegas, NV, USA, + various events for SFX Entertainment, Robot Heart, and electronic music events hosted in Canada.
Fan Video by Alex K Colby
Inspiring Festival(s): Burning Man | Black Rock City, NV, USA
The first time Ryan ever heard dubstep was at Burning Man years ago and he thought to himself, this is the future, this is what is next. He loves Burning Man because there are so many creative people in one place. He created Further Future for people who can not attend Burning Man with it’s long period of time to prepare, go, and recover. He says his festival (he would guess) is 50-75% Burners, and is a nice introduction to Burning Man if you ever plan on going.
Who: Tucker Gumber
Company Festival(s): He’s “The Festival Guy” who has attended 100+ festivals in less than four years. Founder of FestEvo, a mobile app that helps you discover festivals around the world–you can stream artists from the line-up via Soundcloud or Spotify, and connect with friends that are going! As if that wasn’t enough, he also wrote “The Festival Throwers Bible,”a book on how to throw kick-ass festivals.
Inspiring Festival(s): What The Festival?! | Durfur, OR, USA
Out of 100+ festivals he’s attended, this is his absolute favorite besides Burning Man. I’ll take his word…
Who: Kim Owens
Company/Role: Editor, Kaffeine Buzz
Their Festival(s): Festival & Event Blogger, Radio Host. Kaffeine Buzz is a media and news website that covers music, culture, film, art and all the things and people from around the world that make life interesting! I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kim on the topic of technology at music festivals. You can read about it by CLICKING HERE.
Monolith (no longer) utilized the entire venue at red rocks including the cave spaces, which created a unique atmosphere that no other event there has done. Summer Sundae (no longer) took place indoors, had regular bathrooms and really great food.
Who: James Boyle
Company/Role: Executive Director, Halifax Pop Explosion Festival
Their Festival(s): Halifax Pop Explosion | Halifax, NS, Canada
James says both festivals have outstanding line-ups and are some of the best festivals to attend in Canada!
Who: W. Glen Boyd
Company/Role: Executive Producer & Creative Director, What The Festival?!
Company Festival(s): What The Festival?! | Durfur, OR, USA
Glen says he and his wife try to hit at least two new festivals a year (I like this guy already). He said Bass Coast was intimate and entirely produced by women with no sponsors, which gave it an entirely new perspective and feel. Burning Man because he has been a Burner for over 15 years, and there is nothing else like it in the world!
Who: Evan Weinstein
Company/Role: Owner, Talent Buyer, Steez Promo
Company Festival(s): Moonrise Festival | Baltimore, MD, USA
Evan said Life Is Beautiful had amazing cocktails, inspiring art pieces, lots of trash cans, and was run very well. CSSD in San Diego was also great because they offer two times of the year to attend (March & October) and it provides amazing techno, house music crossed with indie vibes.
Who: Paul Peck
Company/Role: Co-Founder & Partner, Frameless Creative/ Founder & Producer, Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival
Company Festival(s): Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival | Okeechobee, FL, USA/ Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (Super Jam producer up until 2015)
Inspiring Festival(s): Jazz Fest | New Orleans, LA, USA
Paul said everything at Jazz Fest, represents NOLA from the music, food, festival, staff, colorful venue, cross genres of music, and many cross demographics the festival provides.
Who: Nick White
Company/Role: CEO & Founding Partner, Evermore Music Festival
Company Festival(s): Evermore Fest | Indianapolis, IN, USA
The culture and city of Austin is embraced entirely at these festivals and inspired him to create his own!
Who: Andrew Borgelt
Company/Role: Founder, BLAP Productions
Company Festival(s): Northern Nights | Piercy, CA, USA
Inspiring Festival(s): Reggae On The River | Garberville, CA, USA
Andrew says Reggae On The River is in a similar location as his festival, and it provided for him, a different approach to festivals because of it’s beautiful location within the California Red Woods. Also the music is great!
Who: Drew Lorona
Company/Role: Co-Founder & Associate Producer, Treefort Music Fest
Company Festival(s): Treefort Music Fest | Boise, ID, USA
Inspiring Festival(s): Pickathon | Happy Valley, OR, USA
Drew says the stage layouts and designs at Pickathon we’re extremely creative! The stages are architecture built and designed by students studying their undergraduate degrees in art schools. Most of the designs found around the festival were structural pieces that acted as art but also provided shade for attendees.
Who: Kevin Rowell
Company/Role: Operations Director, The DoLab
Company Festival(s): Lightining in A Bottle | Bradley, CA, USA/ Woogie Weekend | Silverado, CA, USA/ Dirty Bird Campout| Silverado, CA, USA + they design and build innovative structures and immersive environments for various festivals including Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival | Indio, CA, USA
Kevin says Day For Night has a great team and was a fun experience for him. He says Boom Festival is just overall great because it is on land owned gardens, has a great community with over 190 countries in attendance.
Who: Marjana Jaidi
Company/Role: Founder & Creator, The Oasis Festival
Company Festival(s): The Oasis Festival | Marrakech, Morocco
Outsidelands was great because there was a lot to do, besides music (which was also great). Marjana says it showed her how important the experience of a festival is. Flow Festival was unique because it was located in an old power plant converted into a festival location and produced in different areas of the plant. Flow Fest has lots of Fitish culture, Fitish rituals and local sofisicated aspects combined, which makes it something different.
Who: Jason Beukema
Company/Role: CEO & Founder, Whet Travel
Company Festival(s): The Groove Cruise |Miami, FL, USA & Los Angeles/San Diego, CA, USA & New York, NY, USA/ Ship Rocked |Miami, FL, USA/ Inception At Sea |Miami, FL, USA/ Moterhead’s MotorBoat |Miami, FL, USA/ The Zen Cruise |Miami, FL, USA/ Salsa Cruise |Miami, FL, USA
Official Video by YODER
Fan video by yours truly LIVING BY THE F WORD
Inspiring Festival(s): Further Future | Moapa River Indian Reservation near Las Vegas, NV, USA
Jason says Further Future provided deserts scenes, art, music, great food and intellectual speakers that we’re all incredible. However he stresses the importance of the community of people at festivals. Most the time what makes the festival, doesn’t have to do with the festival itself, it is who you are with. He had a large crew of GCfam (The Groove Cruise Family) at Further Future that made it a way more fun experience!
There you have it everybody! It seems as though Burning Man is the strongest response in answers, however after having a conversation with Drew Lorona, we both agree that Burning Man is not a festival, it is a city. Don’t understand what I mean? You can read about my story of “Becoming A Burner…” PART 1
I want to thank all of those involved in this interview for taking the time to talk about their festival and festivals that have inspired them! Looking forward to checking out so many of these fests in 2017 and beyond! Any of these peak your interest? Drop some of your favorite festivals in the comments below! Let’s link up at one!!