Blog: Thoughts on T in the Park and other big festivals
Working in Music IT it’s become clear that at least 99% of music is shit. People contributing 50 minutes of 808 kick drum as art or readings of religious text in twenty different languages to streaming services make me think the 4 million tracks Forgotify say have never been listened to is actually on the low side. Bearing this in mind the fact I think 95% of the T in the Park lineup is absolutely garbage is also actually pretty low. Add to this that I am pretty far from being the target audience and it’s pretty impressive. I think might have been the target audience between 2004 and 2006 but since then I’ve moved to a city with loads to do every weekend and don’t think it’s much fun to spend it in a makeshift town with a population greater than Glenrothes and with less bathrooms than Freuchie for an entire weekend. I guess the organisers consciously choose their headliners to please the part of the Scottish population who are still happy to pay £200 to be drunk in a campsite with their pals just a couple of hundred metres from maybe seeing Calvin Harris, Tinie Tempah, Twin Atlantic and Chas and Status (who have all played T in the Park 3 or 4 of the last 4 years). Despite not been a paying customer since that Rage Against The Machine year in 2008 but I annually flirt with the idea of going and this is because the 5% that I generally do like I really want to see. The problem usually is that the 5% occasionally clash (2009 with Arcade Fire and Bright Eyes) or are on different days like last year (Fri: Kenrdrick Lamar, Phoenix Sat: Frightened Rabbit Sun: Frank Ocean) and I refuse to pay £200 for five bands no matter how great they are, or were. This year however I have seemingly gotten a bit lucky. Literally all the bands I want to see (Earl Sweatshirt, The Twilight Sad, Chance The Rapper, Arctic Monkeys and Metronomy) are all on the same day. Add to this it being the last chance for me to visit T in the Park at it’s Balado home where I’ve known it since 2004 when Snow Patrol and Muse were the headliners I seen (touring The Final Straw and Absolution, each band’s last great album) and I’ve decided I’m going this year.
The thing is though, other than Chance The Rapper and Arctic Monkey this will be my third time seeing those acts this year so far. This sort of thing makes me concerned that the whole thing is just becoming a little bit stagnant and that festivals are becoming less necessary. Forgetting about the spring tour component which added one tick for Metronomy and Earl before having a lap around the summer festival circuit what makes this year’s T in the Park special if all the headliners played at Glastonbury last year or I just seen them at Primavera? I decided to put a bit of maths into this and took the clashfinders of the past four events of T in the Park, Primavera Sound, Glastonbury and Reading/Leeds to see the outliers. I found that Bombay Bicycle Club, Disclosure, Dry the River, Jake Bugg and Twin Atlantic played eight times at the four festivals (out of a possible sixteen) so based on that sample it turns out the chances of going to a festival and being able to see one of them is 97%. I also found out that The Killers, M83, Slowdive, The Postal Service and Portishead were the only bands to only headline (or near enough) one festival which I looked at. Comparing the two groups I think it’s clear that what festivals need is growth of new bands to replace one or two of Bombay Bicycle Club’s perennial smaller stage headline slots – something that T in the Park does well with T Break this year boasting Tuff Love, Kill The Waves, Secret Motorbikes, Deathcats and Birdhead among others. I really hope both for the whole T Break platform and the bands themselves that we see some of these bands and ones like them grow to become the next crop of headliners at the festivals, afterall, how long can you really dine out on Travis and Biffy Clyro playing there before they were famous?