Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Sundae 2010 - pleasures and gripes

I'm working on getting reviews clear in my head, so in the meantime.....

A great festival so many pleasures to be had.

  • Range of bands performing
As ever, there was a wide and interesting range of bands on display. Plenty of local talent - thought they may need to watch that doesn't overload the schedule - but some really sparkling new/old acts from the UK and well beyond.

  • The atmosphere
Great vibe to the place as ever: cheery staff, friendly volunteers (hi Becky!), and plenty of bonhomie despite the weather. More walkway mats on Saturday may have helped but it all dried up on Sunday. Good luck to the DMH crew though fixing the state of the gardens!

  • Staging
Great range and good layout of stages: nice that the Rising stage is making use of the big top (as did the Comedy tent for its double!). Generally just the right amount of space per stage. They may need to think about the Musician tent on a Sunday though for its schedule - see the David Ford Sunday review for details!

  • Range of food
Superb. I miss the freshly made pizzas of the oven company (replace by corporate Pizza Express) but otherwise a nice mix of festival regulars, bigger names and quality small firms. Nothing under par food-wise. Happy Lisa.

Any big organisation/event will inevitably stirs a few moans. Here were mine:

  • Ticketing
We had collected our tickets from Leicester several months ago. So when we got to the festival gates, we were rather thrown by the instruction "go there to get your tickets". We already had tickets in our hands. What was the man saying?

So we joined the queue to get in the festival: bad idea. Should have done as the man said. We needed to get our tickets exchanged for FANCY tickets with a picture and foil.

Okay: I get the security issues of ticketing but really - not very green is it? Two lots of paper tickets and receipts with name/address on for each booking...

  • Drinks
Real ale drinkers do quite well by Summer Sundae (though running out of beer by early afternoon of the Sunday probably needs reviewing). But my biggest moan is tied up with sponsorship: I get the festival needs sponsors but how come cider drinkers have to put up with Bulmers or nothing? The standard beers/lagers on offer don't stop the festival having a beer tent, but Bulmers promotion means its them or nowt for cider drinkers.

And cider over ice is an abomination. (I was so vehement and frantic in my vociferous refusal of ice on my first purchase that the staff remembered me. We actually had quite a good laugh about it in the end as with subsequent purchases they would tease 'put some ice in it'. Memorable to the last I am!)

  • Information circulation:
Here was where I really missed Richard Haswell, and where I think - despite the big team that his co-founder of the festivals, Rob Challice, points out in this online interview, it really came to light how one person can be the crux of a system.

Last year, Fanfarlo were booked for the Rising stage. Would have been awesome; they pulled out.

This year, they got stuck in traffic: now, I don't know, this could have been a life or death situation, but really --- once is disappointing; repeating the no-show for a second year felt dire.

BUT the biggest problem for me was not the cancellation, at the last minute, but the information about this. In previous years EVERYONE seemed to get notices about last-minute changes of performances. The Streets cancelled late last year (swine flu) and within minutes every barrier and noticeboard had signs up about the rescheduling of bands.

At 5pm as the Rising Stage finished its performance with Erland and the Carnival the MC announced 'Fanfarlo on the main stage next'. We got there to find the MC for the main stage announcing 'And now one of my favourite singers, Fionn Regan' (who had been due on the Indoor stage from 5.15pm).

Everyone we then spoke to for the next 15 minutes - and myself and several other visitors were trying to find out what was going on - didn't know anything. They didn't know who would know, who we should talk to, who knew what... anything. One security guy listening on his headset said 'no-one seems to know, the organiser is trying to find out now'.

By the end of Fionn Regan's set, there were a couple of signs up saying about the change but only near the main outdoor stage, no where else.

And the announcement came over at the END of the set 'yes, we are sorry, the rumours are true that Fanfarlo won't be playing at Summer Sundae. They were involved in a traffic incident on the motorway and although they tried really hard to get here, they won't able to appear'.

1) rumours? They were due to have just played. I think you'll find that was a case of the audience noticed the band they were expecting hasn't played...
2) traffic incident? I'd be interested to know the news on that - it's maybe on Twitter? - because they have nothing on their own MySpace or website.
3) they tried really hard to get here? From when? From where? I get that bands are often cramming in several festivals to a weekend, but surely it must have been obvious by 4pm that Fanfarlo were not going to be there. Could an announcement AND the notices not have been done earlier? And how come staff didn't seem to know anything. I don't expect everyone to know all the answers but information circulation - at least WHO should be contacted to find out - really should be known to all staff.

  • Toilets:
Bless em: to top everything the toilet company tardis (don't laugh) break down in one of the carparks - creating havoc for bands arriving - and thus leaving toilets without new paper supplies or being cleaned out.

Not nice and again, information availability about why and a possible time schedule for being fixed would have been good.

All a shame as there were far more things to praise than this post suggests.

1 comment:

George said...

I can only add to Anonymous' enthusiasm! Sounds superb, sorry to have missed it but I hope Xavi will be brought along soon enough...