We, and almost everyone else we saw or spoke to, really enjoyed themselves, and by all accounts the conference worked really well. Thursday was brilliant, although it probably didn’t happen in the way it was intended, we enjoyed seeing bands that we wouldn’t normally have bothered with, we stopped out late three nights in a row.
We really hope there’s a Gigbeth 2008, and humbly offer some constructive criticism in order to make that an even better experience – this from the experience of normal paying punters…
- Some of the venues are just too far apart, the Sunflower Lounge, and the Nightingale being a case in point. We made an effort to go to the Sunflower first on Friday, but I doubt many people went the other way at any point.
- Some of the events (Heducation, Project X, Capsule even!) seemed just tacked on to make the festival larger and more ‘diverse’. They aren’t there for the festival crowd, worked separately and had totally different atmospheres. One event didn’t promote the others – when the last acts at the Sanctuary finished absurdly early why was there no announcement about what other bands you could just walk a few hundred yards and see? Simple little things like signage would have really improved the experience in this respect. I think things need to be in or out, no half measures.
- There aren’t enough name acts, name acts draw floating punters in. A local band supporting a bigger act will get more promotion, learn more and play to more people. Bigger crowds improve the experience for everybody.
- The line-up was dreadfully publicised. You don’t mind things/times changing but it was very difficult to find out what’s actually when. We also missed bands we wanted to see because we couldn’t find out where they were. The singer from Johnny Foreigner had a bit of a rant about publicity on stage on Friday. The ticket/wristband system was complicated too – by the fact that you could have got into some things without it, that you needed to pay extra for Project X. Who knew that the Thursday opening was free? That may have accounted for the low turn-out.
- Diverse, but ghettoised – there’s very little point in having all the reggae acts, indie, acoustic, d’n’b acts in the mix if they’re all in separate venues and you have to choose between them. Actually mixing them up would have created more of what was fantastic about the Thursday night and helped the whole thing seem much more coherent. Grandmaster Gareth blamed this separation between genres in Birmingham in general for some of what’s wrong with ‘the scene’.
Already looking forward to more and more gigs on the basis of snippets heard or seen due to the Gigbeth experience, it’s certainly worthwhile, but good – not great, yet.