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My Little Review Options
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 11:27:17 AM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 4/14/2009
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Points: 6
Hi all,
Just a little review from a Blues Fest "Semi Regular", having been on and off for many years now (but not since 2006). My overall impression was - bigger & bigger but not necessarily better.
I don't want to drone on about the clash of values between young and old, or chairs versus no chairs, or blues versus rock, etc. I think there's still a good deal of respect between all, and the vibe was esentially good, so I like that... So...
1) MUSIC - some great artists, loved Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, loved Tim Finn - 2 smashing concerts there worth the admission price, John Butler in top form even with the indulgent, slightly ridiculous drum solo (but top entertainment), Hot Club of Cowtown - wicked, That 1 Guy - NUTS (proving that blues/roots can even mix with electronica and thus entertaining the teapot cosie heads), Terrance Simien playing the same set as ever but gotta love those beads and white teeth (you have to admit it, the man is reliable), Lucinda Williams (Sunday) looking pretty pissed off for some reason, but I can understand she has a deep following (... "I like both kinds of music... country AND western - say that with a southern drawl!)... Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - not a lot of voodoo really, but smooth sounds, and all the rest. Sorry Eric Bibb, nice, but not sure what all the fuss is about, rather underwhelming, and Grace Woodroofe - I read something about her being personally put in the line-up by Ben Harper...? Mmm, big break there, but would suggest you try and make your lyrics more audible, or maybe her sound engineers were bunking off like other sound reviews I've read? Sounded like a lot of garbled angst.
2) FOOD - loved it all, especially the undercover food court. I would never complain about the prices. They have to cart all their stuff across boggy fields, put up with power going on and off and making sure they can feed the masses. Well done all.
3) BOOZE - very good, and 3 pretty big bars. Don't like the prices? Don't drink.
4) GROUND SETUP - OK, so it rains every Easter. Instead of whinging about this, I have a wishlist for the future in the new teatree swamp... History shows Bluesfest only gets bigger and bigger... my hope is that they (Mr Noble!) plan on concrete/pebble roadways around the new site that can at least take some of the human traffic between major venues & food/toilets, etc. without the need for the mudfest that developed this year. I know the bluesfest did their best with woodbark, etc, etc. but you would have needed like thousands of cubic metres of the stuff to dry out this Belongil Swamp. My only hope is that if the new site is to be somewhat "permanent" that they invest in proper pathways, and perhaps even toilet blocks that have an air of "permanent" too. Perhaps my brain is not programmed like a greenie, and permanent setups would be unheard of, but surely the ground damage caused by 100,000 mud stomping feet creates some rehabilitation issues too? Please... go with some concrete, or ashphelt... Hell, this festival can retain everything that it is right now, and be even better... I must say, the sheer number of toilets was staggering this time. Congrats. Of course they entered the world of terrible as people blocked them up with ciggie butts and paper, etc. Pretty hard to stop the stupid.
5) Sound and visuals.
a) The Good - loved the big screen in the covered area behind Mojo. All you need now is some sound to go with it. Engineers can do good things... They can delay that sound by a fraction of a second or whatever so the whole sound mix in the area isn't wrecked. The screens (everywhere) had a brilliant definition too. The crews from SAE doing the filming were great. Overall, the impact of the giant screens was incredibly professional and left me feeling this was absolutely world class, and I could see where my price of admission went.
b) The Bad - sound engineering in many tents, at many times, was pathetic. Eric Bibb stopped one of his songs it was so bad. Feedback problems were regular on every stage I went to. Sound/lighting engineers were smoking at control desks, blatantly ignoring the rules inside the tents... Peter Noble, if you're gonna make this rule, your own guys have to follow this - petty or not. In defence of the sound - when it was running well, it was sweeter and better than ever. Volume was great. Not sure if we're ever gonna shake the sound leakage between tents. I didn't notice the loudness of Apra, but I was generally well into the tent for most shows I saw.
c) The Ugly - no ugly. Nothing that can't be fixed.
6) SITE ENTRY/EXIT.... This was problematic, and again, nature is what it is - can't stop the rain. Loads of stuck cars, chopped up fields (camp sites), mud spinning... At the new tea tree swamp, it's gonna be pretty tough for people to walk back to Byron. Thats means more buses, cars. Unless the road authorities are happy for the Pacific Highway to come to a standstill...... large all weather parking lots and some sort of PAVED bus interchange will be needed. Now don't go all green on me - I've seen the way that theme parks do it, and I've been to big concerts overseas. Access (eg, paths that people can actually walk on and not sink into) and transport need huge planning... and I'm not saying that Bluesfest hasn't survived ok for it's entire history, but this thing just seems to get bigger and bigger (bugger me if there wasn't more than 20'000 people there on Saturday - I am SURE there was)... Please Bluesfest... Perhaps with all the corporate imaging and money invested in giant screens, the word "feral" could be minimised by sorting out some of these other things.
Thats just my humble opinions. I still loved it. Won't make any rash statements like "never going back" as I'm sure I will. Might let the first year in the tea tree swamp go past first though, and read some reviews of what happens! But in terms of music and vibes (and food in Byron region), there surely ain't no better... Peace.
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