The Festival Blueprint

21 September 2009

Written by: Lawrie Zion

I’m not sure who to blame, but extortion has infested the Australian summer.

Call it a ‘music festival’ if you want, however a porta-loo by any other name would still smell as rotten.

Sure, the concoction sounds alluring – bands, camping, large amounts of cask wine – however the reality is often much different. Ticket prices are usually astonishingly high, the sound quality is often poor and the weather is typically inclement (no matter what the season).

With this in mind, the first Blueprint Festival was held last weekend to try and ‘start a new trend’ for Australian music festivals.

Held 200 kilometres west of Melbourne – in a large crater just outside Ararat – Blueprint’s wholesome ambitions of offering ‘the best three days and nights you could possibly get in Victoria’ didn’t get off to a great start.

There was no running water for drinking or washing, large parts of the camping area were flooded (a testament to the crater location) and the bands – the primary reason we came – started four and a half hours late. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

After punching my MasterCard digits into the website way back in June and feeling the anticipation build since then, being let down by poor organisation wasn’t especially shocking.

Many trips have been made to summer’s big music festivals and many times I have left feeling ripped off.  

The cost of Blueprint – well over $100 for early birds and much higher at the gate – would have allowed punters to attend more than five gigs in Melbourne’s pubs and still have enough money left over for a pint.

However, despite the high cost, Blueprint would be considered as just a small time player on the festival circuit swindle. The big name music festivals cost so much they make your eyes water just thinking about printing off an ATM receipt.

Meredith Music Festival costs $239. Pyramid Rock leaves ticket holders $250 lighter. Falls Festival in Lorne sets punters back a whopping $274.

Amazingly, these prices don’t even include the much scorned ‘postage and handling fee’, which – at more than $50 for Falls – has to be the biggest con of them all.

These prices are terribly high and the value that festival-goers receive for their financial outlay cannot be considered sufficient.

Campers are often squeezed in like University students, the food tastes of something baked in 1997 and the grog is generally at Crown nightclub prices.

Gladly, I am not alone in feeling a little bit fleeced by the intense proliferation of large festivals.

Henry Wagons, of the band Wagons, possibly put the feeling best when he addressed Blueprint during some mid-gig banter last weekend.

“Do you monotonously come to every music festival? Do you enjoy cold chorizos, horrible baked potatoes and terrible coffee? Welcome to Blueprint, the first fucking festival of the year!”

Amen. Now have you seen the line for the dunnies?

Tom Cowie is a final year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. This piece has just been posted as his blog, stop making sense.