Spiritualized's Jason Pierce Thinks Music Festivals Are The Death Of Art
‘I think festivals are the death of art, in a weird way. I know everyone has started thinking that’s the way you see bands now, but I’ve always said bands are the least important part of a festival. What’s important is standing around and seeing who you live with and what your world is and why you’re there. Bands have always been a side issue to that but now more so. And everybody is compromised as a result. The audience are, and the bands are because they get short time slots and no sound check. Yet, bands in their wisdom still soak up the glory, like they’re worth THIS many people. Or worse, when you get those awful sing-alongs, and a band’s ego kicks in when the crowd sing their words back. It’s as if they’re standing on stage thinking ‘this is what we’re worth’ and really the audience would sing 'We’ll Meet Again' if it was playing.
There’s something about a communal sing-song that’s inherent in people. People love it. So yeah, it’s been a long old summer playing festivals. I felt more and more a part of the entertainment industry as it went on. And I’m not part of the entertainment industry. I’m an artist and I want to feel like an artist. It’s important that I push where I want to go and the audience goes with that if they want to, or doesn’t if they don’t. Festivals are the death of that. And they’ve gotten straighter as the years have gone on too. They’re less about drugs and rock and roll now. They’re more about community.’
I don’t know about his last sentence about festivals being straighter and less about drugs – I still can smell all the weed and god-knows-what-else people were smoking at the last FYF fest, and just last week, someone died after taking some new drug at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music Experience – but he is right on for the rest. This made me think, music festivals are definitely about something else than music.
Just take Coachella, there is fashion Coachella, food Coachella, celebrities sightings at Coachella, and since people stay there for three days, there is camp Coachella with all the stories that go with the game. It’s all about being seen over there and seeing famous people, it’s all about showing your fancy-daring-bohemian outfit and taking notes on other hipsters’ costumes, because it is a little bit Halloween under the hot sun over there.
So Pierce is right about music festivals and the contrived and unnatural aspect of a band set at such events: bands can’t choose their time set, their stage, their environment, even their audience, which may have come for the next act. Festivals are the anti-thesis of freedom and creativity for artists, so why are bands playing festivals? Again they may not have any choice!