UK prepares for biggest festival weekend in two years
More than half a million people are expected at open-air music events across the UK over the next four days for the biggest festival weekend since summer 2019.
Among the major festivals making their long-awaited, non-socially distanced returns after a year off this long weekend – Monday is a public holiday in England – are Live Nation UK’s Creamfields (Thursday 26–Sunday 29 August), AEG Presents’ All Points East (Friday 27–Monday 30 August), Festival Republic’s Reading and Leeds Festivals (27–29 August) and Superstruct Entertainment’s Victorious Festival (27–29 August), as well as a handful of smaller events.
Citing the success of the national Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, the UK government did away with the last social distancing regulations in England on 19 July (so-called ‘freedom day’) and a number of music festivals, notably Tramlines, Latitude, Standon Calling and Boardmasters, have taken place since, most with a system of Covid-status certification in place based on the NHS (National Health Service) app.
After its cancellation in 2020, Creamfields, the UK’s biggest dance music event, returns to its long-time home in Daresbury, Cheshire, with performances by Basement Jaxx, Jaxx, Tiësto, Peggy Gou, Eric Prydz, Chemical Brothers, Carl Cox, Andy C, Scooter, Paul Van Dyck, Pete Tong, Martin Garrix and more.
Though Creamfields has not announced a capacity reduction for 2021 – a full complement of ten stages of music will be in operation from Friday to Sunday – the event will be fully cashless for the first time, with only electronic payments available at all bars and concessions.
The return of twin festivals Reading and Leeds, Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Disclosure and Biffy Clyro, will be “a real[ly] emotional time” for the mainly young people attending, who have had “the worst 18 months for that generation almost since the invention of the teenager in the late 50s, when teenagers became a thing,” Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn tells the BBC.
The festivals will also be home to pop-up vaccination clinics which the NHS says will make it as easy to get a jab as a burger or beer.
“The live music industry is holding itself to a higher standard than any other sector in terms of Covid measures”
London’s All Points East, which this year incorporates Field Day, is AEG Presents’ first festival in the UK since British Summer Time in Hyde Park in July 2019. Moved from its traditional spring dates, the festival opens with London Grammar headlining tonight, with other headliners across the weekend including Jorja Smith, Jamie XX, Kano and Foals, as well as Bicep at Field Day on Sunday.
The festival, held in Victoria Park, will be attended by in excess of 40,000 people a day, having boosted its capacity since 2019.
“We are already experiencing such a great feeling from everyone on site: happy faces of fans, artists and staff coming back together for a brilliant music festival,” AEG’s head of European festivals, Jim King, tells IQ. “There is excitement and anticipation, everyone getting to know each other again and discovering their new favourite artist or looking forward to the big headliners. For us at All Points East, it is our first opportunity to put into practice what we do best and that in itself is a brilliant feeling.
“We have sold 160,000 tickets for four days. It’s clear that everyone is eager to get back to live music and after All Points East being away for 817 days, it is really satisfying to know that. The live music industry is holding itself to a higher standard than any other sector in terms of Covid measures. We can be proud that our industry is leading the way in staff and customer safety.”
In Portsmouth, Madness, the Streets, Royal Blood, Manic Street Preachers, Supergrass and Nile Rogers and Chic are leading Victorious Festival’s return.
Like all the festivals mentioned, Victorious festivalgoers will need to demonstrate their negative Covid-19 status – proof of full vaccination or immunity, or a negative test – to gain entry.
While concerns have been raised about the impact of large events like festivals on Covid-19 transmission, scientists say the trigger points for spreading the virus are public transport and shared cars to get to events, Reuters reports, as outdoor gatherings can be relatively risk free, as demonstrated by pilot events in the UK and elsewhere.
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Field Day partners with APE for Victoria Park return
Broadwick Live’s Field Day will return to its original home of Victoria Park in 2021 as part of a tie-up with All Points East, the AEG festival that replaced it as tenant of the east London park in 2018.
Taking place as part of APE Presents, the concert series which takes place around All Points East (APE), Field Day 2021 will take place on Sunday 29 August with an electronic/dance music-focused line-up headlined by Bicep.
Moving three months later into the year, to the 27–30 August bank holiday, All Points East/APE Presents has already announced its Saturday (28 August) line-up, with headliners Jamie XX and Kano joining Tom Misch, Slowthai, Little Simz, Arlo Parks and more. More shows are set to be announced for the weekend, including for free-to-access community event In the Neighbourhood.
Speaking earlier this week, Jim King, CEO of European festivals for AEG Presents, said: “It feels so great to finally be announcing our first day of All Points East 2021. The chance to be back in the summer sun in Victoria Park is itself alone a reason to celebrate. The fact we are coming back with such a great first line-up announcement makes this an even sweeter moment.
“There are some exciting changes this year, including our move to the August bank holiday weekend. We welcome two sensational co-headliners for the Saturday, Jamie xx and Kano, as well as a host of amazing artists. We can’t wait to welcome back live music in the UK and be back dancing with you all later this summer.”
Commenting on Field Day’s return to Victoria Park, Broadwick’s Gareth Cooper says: “We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing Field Day back to its spiritual home of Victoria Park, where it all started 14 years ago. We are going to deliver the best day out of the summer, in one of London’s best parks, with an amazing crowd, and a top, top music line-up led from the front by the brilliant Bicep. It’s going to be ace.
“Working with Field Day … stands for everything good that is emerging from these challenging times”
“We cannot wait to partner up with APE on presenting this show and provide some hope and excitement to finish off what’s been an awful 12 months. The future starts today.”
Field Day previously took place in Victoria Park but was forced to move to Brockwell Park in Brixton for 2018, before settling on a new home at Broadwick’s industrial Drumsheds space near Enfield for 2019.
“Field Day have been friends of ours for many years, and coming together and working with them on APE Presents Field Day stands for everything good that is emerging from these challenging times,” continues King. “We respect what they do and we align so closely with what they stand for and so it’s a great feeling to be able to welcome them back to Victoria Park where they delivered so many amazing shows.
“They have a great line-up headlined by the incredible Bicep, and the larger capacity that APE offers means more fans will be able to see Field Day deliver what they do so well.”
Joining Bicep on the Field Day line-up are Floating Points, the Blessed Madonna, Mount Kimbie, Adelphi Music Factory, Ross from Friends, Special Request, Mall Grab, Artwork and more.
Tickets for the festival start at £79.99 and available from 1pm today (11 March) via ticket seller Kaboodle.
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British fests sell out as more confirm 2021 dates
Three of the UK’s most popular music festivals, Reading Festival, Creamfields and Boomtown, have sold out their 2021 editions in the past 24 hours, underlining the huge demand for festival tickets among locked-down British live music fans.
Festival Republic’s Reading Festival, which normally has a capacity of 105,000, was one of several festivals to confirm this week they intend to go ahead in 2021, taking place alongside its sister Leeds Festival in the last weekend in August.
All weekend tickets for Leeds Festival (75,000-cap.) are also gone, according to the festivals’ Twitter account, with only limited Friday and Sunday day tickets remaining.
Dance music festival Creamfields, promoted by Live Nation UK’s Cream Holdings, says it sold out in record time ahead of its return this summer. The festival, which has run since 1998 (since 2006 in its current location on the 70,000-capacity Daresbury estate in Cheshire), also takes place across the August bank holiday weekend (26–29 August).
That many fans held onto their 2020 tickets, says Cream, is “positive news for the live music industry, which has largely remained closed over the last 12 months. The news follows the prime minister’s ‘roadmap’ address on Monday that allows the safe return of large-scale outdoor events this summer.”
“This is positive news for the live music industry, which has largely remained closed over the last 12 months”
British prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday (22 February) that all lockdown measures should be lifted in England from 21 June, theoretically allowing large outdoor events such as festivals to take place with no restrictions. Industry response to the announcement was largely positive, though live music businesses and associations are seeking more clarity as to what will be possible.
Among the 300 artists and DJs performing at Creamfields 2021 are Bicep, Afrojack, Alesso, Carl Cox, Pete Tong, pendulum, Gorgon City, Sub Focus, Claptone, Sigma, Andy C, Martin Garrix, Sigma and Nina Kraviz.
Independent festival Boomtown, which typically has a capacity of more than 70,000, has scaled down its event for this year’s ‘Chapter One: The Gathering’-themed festival, which celebrates a “post-pandemic world” of “connection, community and celebration”. The line-up will also be kept secret until around a week before the festival.
Explaining the decision last year, organisers said: “[T]here are many aspects to the way the music industry runs that don’t work for independent festivals. The complex process of releasing a music line-up, with the exclusivity, billing and escalating costs ,has led us to decide this is the time to rethink the way we approach it and explore new ways of doing things.
“We have always been a creatively led festival and people attend Boomtown because of the overall experience. We will continue to book incredible headline artists, and all the festival favourites, but by approaching our programming announcements in this radical way, we can create line-ups that are even more phenomenal and diverse than we have ever been able to before.”
“The anticipation to get back to showcasing the best in new music has never been greater”
Fans responded to the change, with over 90% of 2020 ticket holders declining a refund, and tickets for the 2021 edition, held as usual near Winchester in Hampshire, selling out last night.
Also riding the wave of fan demand is London’s Field Day, which announced just before 9pm yesterday (25 February) that it, too, had sold out its 2021 edition and second outing at the post-industrial Drumsheds venue in Enfield, north London.
Like its cancelled 2020 festival, Field Day 2021 will be a one-day, electronic music-focused event headlined by DJs Bicep. Other performers playing the Drumsheds, which has a capacity of 25,000, include Maribou State, Ross from Friends, Floating Points and Adelphi Music Factory.
The sellouts come as more festivals confirm they will be going ahead later this summer, with Liverpool Sound City, Gala Festival, Wilderness and Mighty Hoopla all announcing or re-confirming their 2021 dates in the wake of Johnson’s announcement.
“I can’t believe that it’s been nearly two years since the last time we came together at Sound City, and the anticipation to get back to showcasing the best in new music has never been greater,” says Sound City MD Becky Ayres. “Enjoying amazing new artists in incredible venues is what makes Sound City great, and we’re excited to bring together genre-pushing favourites, thrilling live bands and must-see moments this October.”
Sound City 2021 takes place from 1 to 3 October with artists including the Lathums, Rejjie Snow, the Mysterines, Red Rum Club and the Murder Capital.
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Lucy Wood joins Roundhouse as head of music
Former Festival Republic booker Lucy Wood has joined iconic London venue the Roundhouse (1,700-seat) as head of music, effective from the end of March.
Wood succeeds Jane Beese in the role, who left the Roundhouse at the end of last year to take up the position as head of music at Manchester International Festival (MIF) after five years at the venue.
Having previously led the music programming for Latitude Festival, which last year saw performances from Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Loyle Carner and Primal Scream, Wood will now head up the music team at the Roundhouse, which hosts over 100 shows a year, as well as in-house festivals In the Round and Roundhouse Rising.
With 15 years’ experience in the music industry, Wood has previously held roles at 19 Entertainment, Warp Records and Eat Your Own Ears, working on festivals such as Field Day and promoting shows by Grimes, the xx and Four Tet.
As part of her Roundhouse role, Wood will help expand the venue’s onsite music programme for 11 to 25 year olds, developing the current site with a new talent development centre.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming Lucy to the team at such an exciting time for the Roundhouse”
“We are really looking forward to welcoming Lucy to the team at such an exciting time for the Roundhouse,” says the Roundhouse programmes director Delia Barker.
“She has a great track record and is well respected across the industry and will bring an incredible energy to support our emerging artists – all whilst programming some of the biggest names in the world on our iconic stage.”
Wood comments: “I’ve had a brilliant three years working with amazing music from across the spectrum of genres at Latitude, as part of Festival Republic – building on my time promoting at London’s cherished Eat Your Own Ears.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at the Roundhouse, a world-class arts institution with incredible history, and to be supporting its exceptional work with young people.”
Upcoming acts playing at the Roundhouse include Sigala and the Growlers, as well as shows by Sports Team, Michael Kiwanuka, Kate Tempest and Roisin Murphy as part of the 6 Music Festival. The Strokes performed a special, intimate show at the venue last night (19 February).
Field Day to return for one day in 2020
Acclaimed production duo Bicep will headline Field Day with an exclusive live set in 2020, with the London festival returning in stripped-back form on Saturday 11 July.
For its 14th year – and its second year at the Drumsheds, promoter Broadwick Live’s venue on the site of a former gasworks in north London – Field Day will become a one-day event with a focus on electronic music.
“The evolution of Field Day continues through to 2020, settling into its second year in its new home at the Drumsheds,” comments Broadwick, “expanding their offering of electronic music, which perfectly complimented its new warehouse venue at Field Day 2019.
“Next year’s programme will celebrate the full spectrum, with both live and DJ performances across three stages of music, running louder and later with indoor stages, including the main stage, continuing until 3 am – a unique and unrivalled prospect for London festivals.”
“We’re over the moon to be back headlining the 2020 edition of the festival at the Drumsheds”
Bicep’s headline live show at Field Day 2020 will be their only London festival performance next summer.
“Having debuted our live show back at Field Day 2016, we’re over the moon to be back headlining the 2020 edition of the festival at the Drumsheds next July,” say the pair in a statement.
More performers, expected to be similar DJs and electronic music acts, will be announced in the near future.
Tickets are priced from £35 for a full-day pass. Presale starts on Monday 9 December, and general sale on Tuesday 10th, from fielddayfestivals.com.
Primavera Sound London 2020 called off
Primavera Sound organisers have abandoned plans to hold a London edition of the Spanish festival next summer, IQ has learnt.
It is understood the British capital would have hosted one of five Primavera-branded events in 2020, the festival’s 20th-anniversary year, alongside the flagship Primavera Sound Barcelona (4–6 June), NOS Primavera Sound in Oporto (11–13 June), Primavera Sound Los Angeles (19–20 September) and Primavera Weekender in Benidorm (8–9 November).
Primavera London would have taken place at Broadwick Live’s 10,000-cap. Drumsheds venue at Meridian Water in Enfield, north London, in June, with the new event either replacing or merging with Broadwick’s Field Day festival. IQ understands the idea of partnering with Primavera Sound was that of Field Day founder Tom Baker, who subsequently stepped down to focus on his company, promoter Eat Your Own Ears.
Festival bookers have been submitting offers for 2020 throughout this summer, though these have now been withdrawn and it communicated to agents that Primavera London is not happening.
The decision to call time on the 2020 event is believed to be in part due to timing constraints. One person with knowledge of the situation says it could still be some months before a permit for the festival is granted, leaving organisers with little time to put together a festival worthy of the Primavera brand.
“They [organisers] want it to be as perfect as possible,” they say. “They could organise it for next year, but now the feeling is it’s better to wait until 2021.”
Primavera London 2020 would have taken place at the Drumsheds in Enfield
Another source highlights festival bosses’ concerns about the Drumsheds’ licence conditions: while Field Day 2019 officially had a curfew of 3am, last entry was at 8pm, and many festivalgoers were turned away after arriving late. (Music at Primavera Sound Barcelona, by contrast, doesn’t begin until the early evening.)
At press time, the Primavera Sound website still shows five festivals happening in 2020 as part of its Primavera 2020 Vision birthday celebrations. In addition to Barcelona, Oporto, LA and Benidorm, there is a placeholder for the UK festival, featuring a blurred image showing the London Eye.
According to Pollstar – which first reported on plans for Primavera London in July – festival promoter Primavera Sound SL has “wanted a presence in the UK for some time”, with London as their preferred location.
In the United States, Primavera is partnering with Live Nation, which will co-produce the event at Los Angeles Historic Park.
Reached for comment, a Primavera Sound spokesperson says there are “no plans for Primavera Sound in London in 2020”.
Primavera Sound is Spain’s biggest music festival, with a daily capacity of 35,000, and stakes place at the Parc del Forum in Barcelona alongside a music industry conference, Primavera Pro. It staged its first gender-balanced event this year, featuring headline performances by female stars including Janelle Monáe, Miley Cyrus, Solange and Christine and the Queens.
Founder Tom Baker steps back from Field Day
Eat Your Own Ears’ Tom Baker, the co-founder of Field Day, has confirmed he is no longer involved with the long-running London festival, three years after its acquisition by Broadwick Live.
Baker – who started Field Day alongside Marcus Weedon (who now runs Christmas-themed event Winterville) in 2007 – remained part of the Field Day team in a programming capacity in the turbulent two years following the Broadwick roll-up. Field Day previously took place in Victoria Park but was forced to move to Brockwell Park in Brixton for 2018, before settling on new permanent home at Broadwick’s industrial Drumsheds space near Enfield this year.
“After 12 years of living and breathing Field Day – something I co-founded in 2007, and that seeded out of earlier multi-genre events my partner and I did before, [including] Village Mentality and Return of the Rural at the 291 Gallery, Hackney, and Homefires at Conway Hall – it feels like the right time for me to move on to new things,” he tells IQ. “It’s a blank canvas, a challenge, but time to do something exciting and creative in a very changed landscape.
“Aphex Twin closing the 17,000-capacity the Barn structure in 2017 with an epic, mind-bending, incredibly magical set was a huge highlight, and one that will stay with me when I remember what Field Day was.
“After 12 years of living and breathing Field Day … it feels like the right time for me to move on”
“As was spotting members of Radiohead in the audience at an ecstatically received Toumani Diabate show at Field Day in 2009, when ‘world acts’ were viewed as a controversial booking.”
Baker says his focus now is on his promotions firm, Eat Your Own Years (EYOE), which has busy calendar of events for the rest of this year.
“Eat Your Own Ears has a strong autumn line-up with a brand-new live AV show from Floating Points, the return of Metronomy and Bill Callahan, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s biggest-ever show, Alexandra Palace,” he continues, plus “Hot Chip are back with brilliant new album and Alexandra Palace show, Anna Calvi’s third Mercury Prize nomination, EYOE celebrates the music of Talk Talk and Mark Hollis with a very special event at the South Bank, and much, much more.”
Field Day is expected to return in 2020, though owner Broadwick has yet to announce dates. Upcoming shows at the Drumsheds include Kano, Chase & Status and Elrow London’s Halloween event, Horroween.
Broadwick unveils 10ac London events site, the Drumsheds
On the back of its successful Printworks London venue, and ahead of the late-2019 opening of Exhibition in Shepherd’s Bush, Broadwick Venues has announced the Drumsheds, a ten-acre events space set to launch in north London this June.
Located at Meridian Water in Enfield, near the Tottenham Marshes, the multi-purpose venue’s first event will be the 2019 edition of Field Day festival, with an “electrifying schedule of events” planned for later in the year, according to Broadwick.
Situated on the site of a former BOC gasworks, in close proximity to the soon-to-open Meridian Water railway station, the Drumsheds comprises a 10ac outdoor festival site and four huge, interlinked warehouses with an indoor capacity of 10,000 – and is located away from residential areas, enabling events to run later than at many competing venues. Along with the new station, it forms part of the £6 billion Meridian Water regeneration project, which aims to transform the former industrial site.
The Drumsheds’ location, combined with its transport links and huge capacity (the Drumsheds will be London’s largest Warehouse venue), creates what Broadwick – the venue arm of Global-owned festival promoter Broadwick Live – calls a “game-changing prospect for London’s vibrant culture” that offers “an experience to rival Europe’s most revered music arenas”.
“The Drumsheds is Broadwick Venues’ most ambitious project to date”
Bradley Thompson, managing director of Broadwick Venues, comments: “The Drumsheds is Broadwick Venues’ most ambitious project to date and a huge boost for the capital: multiple warehouse spaces, the largest of which has 10,000-plus capacity, along with a ten-acre outdoor festival space, complete with a late night licence [is] unprecedented in London.
“It epitomises both Broadwick Venues’ dedication to quality, innovation and creativity, and Meridian Water’s commitment to be a true 24-hour destination. We’re confident that people will be as blown away by it as we are.”
“I’m delighted that the Drumsheds is the latest venue to open in our capital and proud that it shows Enfield’s commitment to delivering the mayor’s 24-hour vision for London,” adds Amy Lamé, London’s night czar.
“London has the most diverse nighttime culture in the world, and this innovative new event space, at the heart of a major regeneration project, will be a great addition to our wide range of entertainment venues.”
Field Day trades fields for warehouses for 2019
After a year in Brockwell Park, Brixton, in 2018, popular UK festival Field Day will relocate again next summer – to a ten-acre former industrial space at Meridian Water, near Tottenham Marshes in north London.
Perhaps taking inspiration from owner Broadwick Live’s Printworks venue – located at an old printworks in Canada Water – the festival’s new home is the site of a former gasworks, and comprises a ten-acre outdoor space featuring four giant, interlinked warehouses. The largest of which, at a capacity of 7,500, will be the biggest warehouse venue for music in London.
And in news that will be music to the ears of fans and south London busybodies – many of whom mobilised to oppose the use of Brockwell Park as a venue in 2018 – alike, the non-residential nature of the new Field Day site means its curfew will be later than any other festival in London.
The site is located a short walk from the new Meridian Water station, set to open in May 2019.
Field Day formerly took place in Victoria Park in east London – now exclusive to AEG and the home of its All Points East festival.
“This new site will allow us to break down the restrictions that London festivals are normally faced with”
Luke Huxham, Field Day festival director, says: “2019 will mark the start of a new chapter for Field Day and a completely new type of festival for London. This new site will allow us to break down the restrictions that London festivals are normally faced with and deliver an unrivalled experience.
“It’s hugely exciting to be working with such a pioneering council [Enfield], who support our ideas and are focused on creating a new cultural hub for London. We can’t wait to unveil more of our plans in the coming weeks”.
“Broadwick Venues are extremely excited and proud to be embarking on a new and exciting journey and hosting one of our own festivals, Field Day, at our new permanent venue and site,” adds Bradley Thompson, of Broadwick Live’s Venues division.
“There couldn’t be a more important time to focus on and replenish London’s music and nightlife culture, and this truly allows us to break the boundaries on what metropolitan festivals should be – and perfectly compliments our other London location and venue, Printworks.”
Field Day’s Brockwell Park move confirmed
After 11 years in the now AEG-exclusive Victoria Park, Eat Your Own Ears’ Field Day is heading south of the river.
As first reported by IQ last month, the 20,000-cap. festival, headlined in 2017 by Aphex Twin and Run the Jewels, has been rumoured to be moving to Brockwell Park in south London since the announcement of Goldenvoice UK’s new All Points East festival. Goldenvoice parent AEG has a five-year exclusive on Victoria Park; Live Nation/Mama’s Lovebox and Citadel festivals also understood to be moving to Brockwell Park.
Field Day’s move has yet to be officially confirmed, but organisers held a consultation with local residents last night to discuss plans for the 2018 festival.
“The award-winning event has taken place in Victoria Park every year since 2007, with the 2018 edition being planned for its new home at Brockwell Park”
“The award-winning event has taken place in Victoria Park every year since 2007, with the 2018 edition being planned for its new home at Brockwell Park,” reads a letter to sent to residents.
According to one person present at the meeting, however, Eat Your Own Ears still has some work to do winning over local residents: Most are “not at all happy” about having an increased number of festivals in the public park, the source tells IQ, with one lamenting that the green space could become “one big urinal”.
Field Day 2018 will take place on 2 and 3 June.