Monday, 5 March 2012

Music In General: The Headliner Slot


With the festival circuit right around the corner, it's about time we look at one aspect of festivals.. The headliners. It's not always easy to play a headline slot, it can be quite daunting and if you're not prepared, it could end in disaster. Headliners are designed to draw in customers and that's exactly what most festivals do. As an avid music listener (obviously), my tastes lie directly towards the artists lower down on the bill. Those who play the headline spot tend to be the talk of the town or something likely to draw in a big crowd. So when Latitude released their 2012 lineup today (5/3/12), I couldn't help but wonder why on earth they would choose Bon Iver, Paul Weller and fucking Elbow to headline their festival.

Bon Iver has reached a much wider audience in the past year and should rightfully headline a slot, but on the main stage? I don't think many people would stay whilst White Lies play The Word. Just to clarify, I adore Bon Iver and have been a fan from the early days, I just don't think they're 'big' enough for a main stage slot. Latitude audiences tend to be middle class and (based on first hand experience)  eat humus.. I legit swear down that a girl came towards our camping section and asked if anybody 'has any humus?', which may sound normal for the Cambridge population, but to us conventional kids, it's 2am, and you want fucking humus??? get the fuck out.

'Who shall we see Saturday night guys? ELBOW!!!!', it doesn't work. Elbow are quite simply an alternative band who used to be obscure and pretty underground before the 2008 Mercury Prize award granted them with BBC commercials and Radio One airplay. They're not a bad band but it's not my cup of tea, especially on a Saturday night when The Horrors will be playing opposite. I'm sure they could play a lively 3pm slot with joyful strings, but I don't think the late night Saturday slot should be awarded to a band like Elbow. Who should replace them? you ask.. Pulp, of course.

I'm not too sure on Paul Weller. The Jam had some classic tracks and All Mod Cons is a solid album, but Paul Weller's solo career is pretty basic and in focuses on a wide array of genres (usually a good thing, but not if you sound like a homeless Van Morrison doing Soul). He would fit in at Latitude, but do you really want Paul Weller closing the festival? I look back at the previous years and notice Suede, Vampire Weekend, Nick Cave, Interpol, Arcade Fire and Mogwai. Now I can't see Paul Weller fitting in amongst huge climatic acts like Mogwai and Arcade Fire. It will be interesting to see how Paul Weller goes down, although I'll probably be seeing Wild Beasts.

It's easy to moan about headliners, but the majority of festivals have very eclectic lineups for the smaller stages. Latitude are one of the better festivals to attract these alternative artists. Last year I saw Deerhunter, Gold Panda, Braids, Caribou, James Blake, Cat's Eyes, Adam Ant and Foals play the smaller stages. The headline slot has always and will always be used for commercialism. It's a popularity contest and we shouldn't moan about the headliners if our favourites are headlining the smaller stages.
~Eddie

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