Sunday, 20 November 2011

Harvest festival: Winning!

When: 20/11/2011
Where: Botanical Gardens, Brisbane, QLD

Harvest festival. A civilised gathering. Is there such a thing where music festivals are concerned? Gone are the days where punters go to a music festival strictly for the music. Thinking about it, was there such a thing, or was ignorance really bliss? Either way, based on the inaugural Harvest festival, there is some hope.

Festival organiser, AJ Maddah has developed his detractors in the more recent times. Criticised by various quarters for his numerous rants on twitter; the latest a come to with no other than Courtney Love (not really that hard, is it?). Then there's the cancellation of Soundwave's offshoot festival, Soundwave Revolution. The former being Maddah's initial creation prior to Harvest.

At the end of the day, people invest too much into things that don't really matter a great deal. This is no different. I don't know the guy from Adam. I don't follow nor care about his rants on twitter. As for Soundwave Revolution, I don't really know the ins and outs, so I'm not really qualified to judge. However, as they say, you're only as good as your last at bat. At the end of the day, if the guy and his crew of backbenchers are willing to bring out bands that interest people while other festivals continue to turn a blind eye and are just content of recycling their 'products', then who's to argue?  

In a current financial climate where music festivals are one of the many things that are suffering in the weight of pocket change, Harvest has gone out on a limb with this latest 'gathering', brought out some bands that don't actually get recycled every three years (are you listening Big Day Out?) and has cobbled together a festival that seems to cater for music fans and not just a bunch of moronic sheep who go to these sorts of shindigs just to bake in the sun and get wasted on mid-strength beer.

Portishead was a coup and the major draw card for many. Goes without saying, really. Wouldn't  it have been in the best interests of the Big Day Out to attempt on bringing them out, seeming as though they're Australia's 'premier' festival and all that?

The answer is simple. They'd rather go for the glamour and get a headliner that couldn't even draw a capacity at Australia's number one winter festival, Splendour In The Grass. Hopefully, the SITG organisers are smart enough to learn from their sins, already confessing to their mistake of inflating ticket prices on the back of a thin line-up.

Back to Harvest. It was a civilised gathering (hot weather aside). Without sounding like some sort of elitist wanker, it was for music and about the music. Portishead, The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes, Mogwai, Mercury Rev, TV On The Radio, The Walkmen. Good solid modern day collectives who have tasted various levels of success throughout their respective careers. Yes, good solid modern day collectives can still draw a crowd. Strong radio presence for a band isn't the sole landscape to draw together a large scale festival line-up. Sure, it helps, but Harvest has proven that it's no longer an essential.

Times are changing. Some people do like modesty, and the Harvest festival has cashed in on it by carving out their niche. Financially, I don't know whether it broke even. I hope it did, but as stated above, given the current economic climate, I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't.

The Harvest organisers have thought outside the box, giving people something they wanted and not just rested on their laurels like their competitors have in recent times, content on raking in money by expanding their demographic and treating 'people' like consumers, totally losing the point of their creation in the first place. The sword has fallen on a few of them, and it will continue to fall on others in the not too distant future.

Summation? A big well done to the Harvest festival. Here's hoping it comes back next year. As Portishead's Geoff Barrow said; 'There's a good vibe goin' on.' His band's presence added to that vibe, delivering a perfect finish to a day where Mogwai, Mercury Rev and TV On The Radio dominated my thoughts the most.

Three cheers for Harvest!