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Festivals ’24: Fuji Rock, North Sea Jazz, ARTmania

The 2024 festival season is continuing to take shape, with the likes of Fuji Rock, North Sea Jazz Festival and End of the Road the latest to show their hands.

Kraftwerk are the first headliner confirmed for Smash’s Fuji Rock, which will be held between 26-28 July at Naeba Ski Resort in Tokyo, Japan.

The first wave of artists also includes Girl in Red, Turnstile, Floating Points, Ride, Yussef Dayes, Angie McMahon, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Erika De Casier, Eyedress, Fontaines DC, Hiroko Yamamura, The Last Dinner Party, No Party for Cao Dong, NOTD, Rufus Wainwright and Yin Yin.

Taking place from 12-14 July at Rotterdam Ahoy in the Netherlands, North Sea Jazz Festival will present concerts from Sting, Raye, Corinne Bailey Rae, Masego, Sampha, Brittany Howard, Noname, Tems, Black Pumas, Benjamin Clementine, Vulfpeck, Sting, Jamie Cullum, Knower and Reuben James, among others.

ARTmania Festival in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania will host acts such as Korn, Spiritbox, Satyricon, The Flower Kings, Borknagar, Monuments, Taine, Awake the Demons and Alpha Q from 26-28 July.

Finland’s Flow Festival, which is set for 9-11 August, has added Raye, Idles, Tinashe, Alvvays, Blonde Redhead, L’Impératrice, Miriam Bryant Karri Koira, Ege Zulu & Orchestra, Yeboyah, Vesta, Jesse Markin, Jambo, Knife Girl, Glayden and Shrty. Fred again.., Pulp, The Smile, PJ Harvey, Jessie Ware, Denzel Curry, Overmono and Kenya Grace have already been announced for the event in Suvilahti, Helsinki.

Shania Twain will make her BST Hyde Park debut on 7 July, with special guests The Corrs and more names to be announced. Twain joins Andrea Bocelli (5 July), Robbie Williams (6 July) and Stray Kids (14 July) in headlining the London concert series this summer.

Elsewhere in London, Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival will be topped by Ministry of Sound Classical on 13 July, alongside a supporting cast including Soul II Soul, The Go! Team, Antony Szmierek, Huey Morgan, Mr Scruff, Erol Alkan, X-Press 2 and Artful Dodger.

End of the Road Festival returns to Larmer Tree Gardens, Blandford Forum, Dorset from 29 August to 1 September, headlined by Idles, Slowdive, Fever Ray and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Other acts will include Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney, Lankum, Baxter Dury, Jockstrap, Ty Segall, CMAT, Phosphorescent, Nation of Language, Camera Obscura, The Lemon Twigs, Mdou Moctar and Gruff Rhys.

Crowded House (17 June), Paolo Nutini (18 June), Jungle (27 June) and Underworld (29 June) are the first batch of headline artists for the second edition of Senbla’s On The Mount at Wasing concerts at Wasing Estate in Reading, Berkshire.

Wasing Estate will also present Solstice At The Mount – an “immersive celebration of world music and culture” – on 20 June, starring headliners Nick Mulvey and Rodrigo Y Gabriela on the main stage, together with intimate late night fireside performances from Awarë and Ajeet.

Eden Sessions at the Eden Project in Cornwall has so far announced Crowded House (12 June), Fatboy Slim (15 June), Paolo Nutini (19 June), Suede and Manic Street Preachers (29 June), The National and This Is the Kit (2 July), Rick Astley and the Lightning Seeds (3 July), Tom Grennan (5 July) and JLS (13 July).

Plus, Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace will welcome Chaka Khan, Sister Sledge and The Fatback Band (13 June), Sugababes, Melanie C and Shaznay Lewis (15 June) and Crowded House, Sheryl Crow and Turin Brakes (16 June).

Insomniac Events has unveiled the bill for the first Beyond Wonderland Chicago, in partnership with Chicago-based Auris Presents. Tiësto, Diplo, Benny Benassi, Kaskade, RL Grime, Eli Brown, Alesso, Chris Lorenzo, Matroda, DJ Minx, Hugel, Eli Brown, Claptone, Patrick Topping and Felix Da Housecat are among the electronic music stars lined up for the 1-2 June event at Huntington Bank Pavilion, Northerly Island.

In addition, the inaugural Dance with Me x Ahabaja festival will debut from 30 March to 1 April in San José Del Cabo, Mexico. A collaboration between promoters Austin Gavlak and Art with Me, the event grounds and gardens will be filled with art co-curated by the family behind Zonamaco, the largest art fair platform in Latin America. The line-up includes Black Coffee, Bedouin, LP Giobbi, Parallelle, Gab Rhome and Stavroz.

“Ahabaja is our tribute to a part of the world we have fallen in love with,” says Gavlak, founder of Colarado’s Powerbunga festival. “Art with Me and I want to bring our communities together on this breathtaking beachfront and pair its natural beauty with the sounds of incredible music and the sights of powerful art in nature. We want people to carry the Ahabaha energy and vibe with them long after the last set.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Wireless Festival Middle East has postponed its second edition, originally scheduled for 2 March. Time Out Dubai reports the festival has been pushed back to November, with an exact start date and headline act still to be revealed.

“After careful consideration and with the utmost dedication to providing the best musical experience for our attendees, we have decided to move the date of the 2024 edition of Wireless Festival to November,” says Live Nation Middle East president James Craven.

“This change aims to create an even more unforgettable and enjoyable event, allowing us to curate a lineup that surpasses all expectations.”

 


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John Empson talks Senbla’s new concert series

Promoter John Empson has spoken to IQ about the first year of Sony-backed Senbla’s new boutique UK concert series On The Mount at Wasing.

Almost 30,000 people attended the maiden edition, which ran from 22 June to 2 July. Curated by Empson, it featured 6,000-cap headline shows from Gabriels, Jack Johnson, Primal Scream, Ben Howard and Sigur Ros.

The unique eco woodland venue – a natural amphitheatre surrounded by trees in the grounds of Wasing, Berkshire – had previously hosted the Glade dance music festival in the mid-late 2000s, and currently hosts the Medicine Festival.

“We were looking for somewhere completely unique in that 5,000 to 7,000 capacity range – somewhere like The Eden Project, but in a different part of the country,” says Empson. “The idea was to try and do something completely different and shake things up a little bit.

“People have less money in their pocket, so are probably going to fewer shows. So I think it would be foolish to go up against the big commercial festivals. That’s why we’re doing this type of thing.”

“We were trying to create a different experience for the audience”

Empson was instrumental in setting up Eden Sessions (now run by AEG Presents) in 2001, and still works on the event. He also programmed Wilderness, Citadel and Somersault festivals for Mama Group, prior to joining London-based Senbla to lead the company’s experiential events business at the end of 2020.

“It’s great to see something come together that you’ve spent so long working on,” he says of On The Mount’s debut. “Feedback has been 100% positive. I don’t think we’ve had any complaints, which is unprecedented for outdoor events in the UK.

“We were trying to create a different experience for the audience. There’s a bar and food available right there when they arrive. The entrance looks great – you get greeted and have a 10-minute walk through a beautiful forest, which is lit up with lots of sculptures around, and then you enter this amazing arena. Immediately you’re going, ‘Wow, this is something completely different.’ So the feedback has been incredible.

“The artists also seemed to react very well to the venue because the dressing room area is in spectacular woodlands and it immediately put them at ease. Some of them went swimming and had ice baths and saunas, so when it comes to the show, they are very relaxed and consequently give a great performance. There aren’t many venues where you can have an ice bath before you go on stage!”

“We’ve planted our flag in the sand with this venue and we feel we’ve created something really special”

Ticket sales for year one were pleasing to organisers, despite the level of competition in the UK marketplace this summer.

“We did really well,” says Empson. “All the shows were really busy. Jack Johnson was the most successful in terms of numbers: we had 5,000 for Jack, and nearly that for Ben Howard and Sigur Ros. Primal Scream were not far below that and Gabriels were a little lower but it’s quite early for them and we were trying to put on something that would set a precedent moving forward, but it was still a fantastic show.

“For me, the highlight was probably the final Sigur Ros track where it was a full moon, the audience were entranced and the lights and sound were just perfect. All the trees were lit up and it was a perfect crescendo.”

Empson confirms the event will return for a second year, with ambitions to make it a staple of the summer season moving forward.

“We’ve been doing the Eden Sessions for 22 years now and we see no reason we can’t do a similar thing here,” he says. “We’ve planted our flag in the sand with this venue and we feel we’ve created something really special.”

“We’ve got some new and interesting venues that we’re about to announce in the UK for ’24”

According to Empson, Senbla also has a raft of other potential projects in the pipeline.

“We’ve got some new and interesting venues that we’re about to announce in the UK for ’24,” he reveals. “We’re fully into curating for summer ’24 now. Senbla has shows going on all the time so it’s full on. I think we’ve done 25 outdoor shows so far this summer, which is exhausting, but rewarding at the same time.

“Senbla is a great place to be for me. It gives me an opportunity to be creative. I think I bring quite a lot to the party and the team is great, so I’m very happy here.”

Sony Music Entertainment’s Sony Music Masterworks division acquired a majority stake in Senbla back in 2019, with Senbla founder and chief executive Ollie Rosenblatt continuing to run the company, working alongside Sony Masterworks’ chief operating officer Mark Cavell and UK label head Sarah Thwaites.

 


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