Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More on the Edmonton Folk Festival

About a year ago I published a blog on the EFF. Someone actually read it and made the comment below which I thought I should publish it in my blog.

"For a bunch of hippies, they act in a remarkably selfish, grasping, up-tight, whinging, unfriendly way.

I've been to many hundreds of outdoor and indoor music events but never one like this. I'm not sure if it's common to be as unfriendly and rude to someone who is merely trying to enjoy the same event as you, and who isn't intruding on your space.

We showed up for the evening acts, having purchased an evening-only ticket (full day tickets aren't available, only tickets for the whole weekend).

On arrival we found that this bunch of grasping people had all laid out 10 to 15 foot wide tarps all over the whole seating area, some only had two or three people or chairs on them. This meant that latecomers or evening-only people like ourselves, were meant to stand way at the back miles from the stage.

I suppose the other option was to go to one of the prescribed 'dancing' areas- who has ever heard of a dancing area at a live show? If you want to dance... dance.

We squeezed ourselves into a gap between two tarps somewhere in the middle of the crowd, and had to put up with dirty looks and comments- heaven forbid we sit too close to someone elses staked out seating area.

I will never go back to this festival or any similar one, I've never seen such an unfriendly un-communal attitude from people at an event like this.

At most rock shows you can sit, stand, and dance wherever the hell you like. If you want to stand and the people around you are dancing, move further back. If you want to sit, find somewhere where you can see. "

Now when we go to an event we want to have as good a view of the stage as possible. There are a number of ways a deciding who gets the best seat. Some venues charge more for better seats, some have lotteries, some are first come first serve. The EFF has a combination of a lottery and first come first serve. Except of course the lottery is fixed.

The second thing we want is in outdoor festivals we want to actually be able to reserve a spot where we can leave our stuff and where we can go for pee without losing our place. (At the Bruce Springsteen concern where I had standing room on the floor, I had to stand in one place for 90 minutes to hang on to my somewhat prime spot; this would not have been justified for a lesser artist) That is why the EFF and other festival allow people to plant tarps or chairs etc. The EFF actually restricts tarp size to 8 feet by 10 feet although I didn't see any volunteers out with a tape measure.

Now over the last few years as my correspondent noted, I have been seeing a lot of
big tarps with very few people on them. For example on Saturday night my wife and I sat next to two large tarps. One was never occupied at any time during the day. The other had two people on it for about two hours during the evening concern after which they left. I don't go in the tarp run anymore and since only my wife and I go, I am usually able to get a decent seat just by looking for small spaces that the tarp runners didn't stake out. I do tend to come early in the day however. On occasion where I have come later and squeezed in most people have been polite so on behalf of the whole EFF community I appologize for the assholes my correspondent sat between.

Now in defence of the EFF, they do ask people to do their best to allow people to the people with evening tickets to squeeze in before every evening concert. They also ask people not to dance except in the dance area at the side of the stage. If you want to dance, your view of the band shouldn't matter. Quite frankly if you allow people to get up and dance, it means that everybody stands up and you have to stand up for the whole concert. They have been much less rigid about this in past years.

Anyway despite everything the EFF is the highlight of my summer and I hope my correspondent comes next year. He should buy a weekend pass though, because it is the workshops that are worth the money.