It’s been just over a month since the festival now but, you know, we at Ibiza Spotlight made a lot of noise about this festival and I thought it would be best to do a little analysis of it, now everyone has had a chance to think about it. I liked the concept and I was interested to see how it worked. But, it would be fair to say that many people weren’t convinced by the idea of fusing rock and electronic music together. Frankly though, any event that brings together some of my favourite electronic artists like Luciano, Nicolas Jaar and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and then adds in some genuinely legendary ‘rock’ (although some aren’t really rock, are they!) artists like Elton John, Chic, Sting and Lenny Kravitz is surely worth the price of a day in the sun in Ibiza for what was a pretty reasonable amount in my opinion? Unfortunately the festival wasn’t the huge success the promoters and its supporters wanted it to be, but whilst looking at what could be improved, there are a huge amount of positives to be taken from the festival.
Musically I think the variation was great, there were some acts on there that didn’t appeal to me at all as I‘m sure was the case for many people, but I’m not one of these close-minded music snobs that thinks Ibiza is for house, techno and nothing else. I’ve said it many times, but I’ll say it again - the music on the island hasn’t always been this way. Long before Sven Vath, Carl Cox, Cream and so on dominated the island the music was hugely varied, with loads of live music from ‘bands’ (for those of you unaware, that’s a group of people typically with drums, guitars, keyboards and microphones). Crazy eh? No. No it’s not. It is a good thing. We have to think about the island, and the health of the business that goes on here, so we can promote the island as a holiday destination for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. Perhaps this festival could be used as a stage to educate people on this in the future? Because, personally, I’m sick of all these kids coming to the island thinking that anything other than Richie Hawtin and his Techno brigade playing on the island is blasphemy. They should ideally take their caps, oversized vests and sports socks, go home, and have a word with themselves.
Having said that though, I do recognise that there were issues with the music policy. If the promoters are to keep with the theme of ‘Rocktronic’ then some more thought needs to go in to programming the stage. In wanting to provide a festival with music for everyone, they have inevitably put some people off – the purists of whatever genre they love. Dance music fans might not want to see Labyrinth, rock music fans might not want to check out Reboot, and so on. So then you have to start looking at grouping similar acts together to avoid people losing interest or not coming at all, or even separating styles in to different stages or arenas, like you find at most festivals around the world - although you then miss the whole point of creating a blend of music. There’s no denying it is a difficult situation, particularly on a site that was relatively limited in size.
I guess the main draw of the festival was the live music, or rather the live music provided by the bands, as oppose to the DJs. Many of the DJs can be seen at one or many other parties around the island on other nights, which could account for some people not getting involved in the festival. It’s the unique location of the festival that should have helped balance that out though. There are few more iconic locations for music than beside Café Mambo and Café Del Mar, looking out towards THAT sunset, to watch some amazing live music from the likes of Chic and Sting (my 2 favourite acts from the festival).
There was a fair amount of noise in the run up to the festival about the costs involved with attending, particularly from workers slaving away selling tickets (see our Ranting Raver piece on this!). At €72.50 for a day pass, and €167.50 for a 3 day pass I think it works out at excellent value. But many disagreed. The thing is you can pay up towards €80 to see Guetta alone, or probably more than that for an Elton John concert! So to have so many different artists, including some huge acts, on one day for less than that is surely a good thing? Factor in that residents, or holders of an NIE, also benefited from a 20% discount (although a very late addition) and I find it hard to see why so many people had such a problem. In talking to some island residents, they made it clear though that this just isn’t the done thing – island residents, promoters, those involved with the clubs, and workers rarely pay to get in anywhere. It’s very much a family vibe and so that makes sense I guess. With that in mind, perhaps a 50% discount (at least) would have satisfied that camp, and seen increased attendance numbers.
There was an interesting point made though where festivals on the mainland are quite considerably cheaper, but then we are on an island and setting something up of this scale isn’t cheap when you consider the logistics involved in it all, this is certainly something that would need to be looked out for the future. Moving on from that though, if you take a look at prices on site with the likes of food and drink, again there isn’t much to complain about, especially considering the average prices of the Ibiza clubs! Your Mojito’s were €6, a soft drink €4 and water only €1! Not bad compared to a bottle of water in the big clubs at €8 +. Food was also reasonable at around €4-5 for your standard hot dogs and burgers. The fact you could leave the festival site and come back also reduces costs for the average attendee – allowing you to come in, see the act you want, then shoot back to the flat for a few drinks, and still be back in time for the next act you wanted to see. You can’t say fairer than that, can you?
I suspect there were huge issues to be tackled with the site alone, the politics of it all was quite complicated. The site is owned by the richest landowner in Ibiza, Abel Matutes, who also owns the likes of Ushuaïa. The guy has wanted to build apartments on the land for years, and there’s no denying it’s prime location for just that. But do we really need more apartments? Surely a multi-purpose festival/park site would be of more benefit to San Antonio as a whole, year round?
Working with the people who live and work on the island is an absolute must. Whilst the addition of the 20% discount for residents was an improvement, more consideration for their needs and wants would have seen many more locals attending the festival. Residents rates inside the festival, residents guestlists perhaps? It was clear much of the festival was geared up for tourists, something I’m sure will change for the future. Further on from this cooperation notion, many people would have liked to see stronger links with the clubbing brands that so many people know this island for. It was initially said that there would be a VIP section hosted by each major club, like Pacha, Space, Amnesia, etc. Whilst some areas were hosted by clubs, there was no branding to suggest that, and so unless you had paid the cost to indulge in said VIP treatment, people were none the wiser. The festival should be here to promote Ibiza as an island, for its music, and the clubs that support it all, much like a continuation of the IMS conference at the start of the season. The IMS conference should prove as a positive example of working with the rest of the island - the entry ticket to the conference provided the opportunity for attendees to go to the conference in the day, seeing what they wanted, when they wanted, then take in one of the afterparties at the likes of Dalt Villa, Pacha, Bubbles (etc) for free! Perhaps those coming to Ibiza 123 could get combo tickets allowing entry to a major club that has hosted a space at the festival? Much of this is possible and would make sense considering the same players that run IMS are those behind Ibiza 123. The simple fact is that the clubs hold so much power on the island, that any other event is never going to truly succeed without their support. Further on that, more effort should be put into promoting the festival outside of the island. Thousands descended on Ibiza for the Radio 1 Weekend just gone, why can’t this be the case for Ibiza 123?
Taking in to account the daily routine of the standard visitor to Ibiza, it was always asking a bit much for the festival to start at 12pm, and again with the closing time of 12:30am – it is far too early. I suspect attendance numbers would have considerably higher had they started the festival at mid to late afternoon and had it finish at say 3am, like it did on the first day to leave time for the Euro 2012 Final between Spain and Italy being shown on the big screens. You know, asking people to rock up at midday to see T.E.E.D. on the main stage, playing to quite a small amount of people, was asking a bit much considering the heat at that time. When security are being forced to hose down the crowd in an amusing attempt to keep them cool (but mostly soak the girls I suspect) you know something needs changing.
Many of these issues that I have brought up are easily changed for the festival of 2013 and (hopefully) beyond. Nothing is confirmed in terms of this happening however, with the only inkling that we will see the festival back next year coming from an interview with Pino Sagliocco on the first day of the festival. He said that he had an agreement with the Mayoress for use of the land for the next 3 years (the same amount of time the Mayoress is in office). It will be interesting to see if the passion, and financial backing, is still there and strong enough to pull it all off again. I really do hope this isn’t the end before it all started.