Festival organising is not for the faint of heart and should be approached with caution and great care. This past weekend an event took place which had many people very excited: Paul van Dyk (PvD) was returning to our shores - the man who pioneered electronic dance, a true power house of electronic dance.
Fans were chomping at the bit. Tickets were sold out shortly after becoming available, prompting the organisers to move the event from the D'Aria Wine Estate to a venue which could support more fans, the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch.Hot local line-up
Supporting PvD was a hot local line-up featuring Dean Fuel, Headroom, Haezer, Niskerone, Broken Toy, Digital Divas and many more. Niskerone gave drum and bass fans something to remember with a great bass line. Digital Divas got things off on the right foot in the early afternoon and drew the crowds out from the shade in the 35 degree heat, which they added to. Dean Fuel delivered a great set leading up to the main event, whipping the crowd into frenzy - tasteful high energy blend of house and electro.
Then onto the main event: Paul van Dyk - when he took the stage there was a current which flowed through the crowd. His presence could be distinctly felt. A certain gravitas mixed with a playful/passionate streak. It was amazing seeing a master at work. At stages he appeared to be having more fun than we were and that was a tall order indeed. His set consisted mostly of classics (We're alive, For an angel etc.) and some new, including one with a deep dubstep slant - truly a great performance.
Now onto the not so pretty part of the event, and there was quite a bit of that...Failure on many levels
Event organiser Soundscape is really feeling a lot of hate coming their way, with their entry into organising music festivals. This is a vocal subculture which is not strapped for cash and has high expectations. Historically these events have been dominated by rock and trance parties with long track records for delivering excellent, well-organised parties. Electronic dance has also grown in its presentation and showmanship in the last few years. With the recent Deadmau5 show still being fresh in the minds of many. So the bar was quite high. In comparison, this event failed on many levels.
The most glaring stumble was the main display being run off a desktop PC which tended to freeze, minimise and maximise every few minutes. It became apparent that they were running a mix of Windows Media Player, VLC and Winamp visualisations. Something that can be replicated right now on your mobile, tablet or desktop - they just had it on a larger screen. This was not a momentary glitch, it continued for hours into the night including the first 30 minutes of PvD's set.
I cringed; this is not the way we want to be remembered by artists leaving our shores and heading back home. This was not professional; this was not to be the end of it...
The organisers promoted certain features and perks for VIP ticket holders. Some were honoured, some did not meet expectations and others were ignored out of hand. Odd thing is that I only noticed around eight people all weekend with general admissions wrist bands (yellow), almost everyone at the event bought VIP tickets (blue). The following claims were raised on various forums like Facebook and Twitter, ranging from false advertising to health code violations:
- Swimming - there was muddy pond and rumour of a pool which was pay per use, but not advertised as such.
- Paragliding - none provided
- Quad biking - none provided
- Food market - limited
- On-site ATMs - only one, Nedbank
- Lighting shows - none provided
- Aerialists - none provided
- The events duration was advertised from 2pm Saturday, 4 February - Sunday, 5 February 5pm, yet on the Sunday morning at 9am they started dismantling the stages and the bars/refreshment stands were closed.
- Ticket holders were not explicitly informed to refrain from bringing their own liquor to the venue and when arrived had it confiscated. Confiscated liquor was to be returned to their owners when they left, but upon exiting the next day found out their liquor was gone with a unsatisfying explanation and no way of receiving compensation.
From a personal view, Saturday had quite a large security presence and they were strict in following the events policies at all entrances, the next day however, there was not a security guard in sight. Event staff consisted of casual staff who were not adequately armed with information or a procedure to respond to complaints.
UbuntuDeal and Citimob have started issuing refunds on request, and rumour of Computicket doing the same. At this time there is a social media storm taking place on Twitter and Facebook specifically focused on disappointment, anger and rage at Soundscape founder, Mark Abrahams.