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Festival Focus: More huge names confirmed for ’23

Another spate of European festivals have announced headliners and main stage artists for their 2023 editions.

Dutch festival Pinkpop has confirmed that British pop star Robbie Williams will return to Landgraaf for the first time since 2015.

He will close out Saturday night at the festival – which is said to be “the oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world” – while P!nk will top the bill on the Friday night. English indie rock band Editors and Dutch electronic band Goldband are also on the 2023 bill.

The 52nd edition of Pinkpop, promoted by Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, will take place between 16–18 June, next year.

Williams is also set to perform at the UK’s Isle of Wight festival, alongside Pulp, George Ezra and Chemical Brothers. Sugarbabes, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Anne-Marie, Gabrielle, Blondie and Ella Henderson have also been confirmed for the event, which runs between 15–18 June in Seaclose Park, Newport.

The festival is promoted by Solo Agency’s John Giddings and Live Nation.

Lowlands: “The oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world”

Elsewhere in the UK, DF Concert’s TRNSMT festival will see Pulp, George Ezra, Niall Horan, Sam Fender, Kasabian, The 1975 and Royal Blood perform at Glasgow Green in Scotland between 7–9 July next year.

Further South in the UK, Latitude will bring Pulp, Paulo Nutini, George Ezra, The Kooks, Metronomy to Henham Park, Suffolk, between 20–23 July.

In Poland, promoter Alter Art has announced Arctic Monkeys for the 2023 edition of Open’er, slated for 28 June to 1 July at Gdynia-Kosakowo in Gdynia. The English rockstars will close the Orange Main Stage on the Friday night, in support of their new album The Car.

And in neighbouring Czech Republic, Colours of Ostrava have confirmed US pop rock band One Republic as the first headliner for next year’s instalment, set for 19–22 July at Dolní Vítkovice in Ostrava.

 


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Pinkpop honours departing founder Jan Smeets

Netherlands’ legendary Pinkpop festival has paid a special tribute to departing founder Jan Smeets in recognition of his 50 years at the helm.

Smeets organised the first edition of Pinkpop at the age of 25 in 1970, and the Landgraaf event is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world, but announced he was stepping back from his role as festival director in 2020, with his team continuing to organise Pinkpop in collaboration with Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts.

But with the event cancelled for the past two years due to pandemic, this year’s edition – held from 17-19 June – provided the first chance for the man known in the Netherlands as ‘Mr Pinkpop’ to bid farewell to the crowd in person.

“The audience waved, cheered and clapped for him after he got on stage, where we first showed footage of Jan from the 1970s to 2019 on the screens,” Pinkpop festival manager Niek Murray tells IQ. “It was a very emotional moment for all of us, but he deserved a proper goodbye.”

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid”

Highly regarded both in his homeland and internationally, Smeets is also an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, a longstanding ILMC member, a founder of Yourope (the European Festival Association) and a winner of festival association VNPF’s lifetime achievement award.

While taking a step back for health reasons, he has stated his intention to stay on at Pinkpop in an advisory capacity.

This year’s festival, headlined by Metallica, Pearl Jam and Imagine Dragons, drew two-sold out 70,000-cap crowds for its first two nights and 57,250 for the final day. A total of 44,500 weekend tickets were sale alongside 63,750 day tickets.

With other acts including Twenty One Pilots, Royal Blood, Maneskin, Deftones and Nile Rodgers + Chic, Murray tells IQ it felt “unbelievable” to be back in business following Pinkpop’s two-year hiatus.

“The second day was the hottest in the history of the festival”

“Everybody was so happy to be on site,” he says. “Overall, it went fine. The first day was a bit rusty, but the visitors did not really have any issues with that. There were more cancellations of volunteers and staff than normal, but we managed it.

“A lot of good people have left the festival world and it will take some time to get back to the level we were before Covid. During the build and preparation, some issues with staff shortages at our suppliers caused delays, but we made it and opened everything on time.

“The first day of the festival was hot, the second day was very hot – 35/36 degrees – the hottest day in the history of the festival. We provided a lot of free water taps, more shelters on site and our medical staff worked there asses off, but there were no huge problems.”

Murray also discusses a number of the new features brought in for 2022 including changes to the layout of the site.

“Our North Stage [cap 30,000] was turned 180 degrees and is now facing our South Stage (previously named Mainstage, cap. 70,000]. We also moved our TentStage [10,000] to the previous place of our North Stage and we created more sitting spots and shelters around the Tent Stage.

“We also introduced our Wilhemina Sky Deck, with packages including drinks/food etc, which was a very nice place to watch the concerts on a ‘higher level’.”

 


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Dutch promoters outline impact of staff shortages

Key promoters in the Netherlands have aired concerns about the industry’s acute staff shortages and its impact on the forthcoming festival summer.

Labour shortages have been a widespread issue in the international live music industry, with many markets reporting a “talent exodus”.

According to Dutch publication 3voor12, concerts in the Netherlands are already being cancelled because there is not enough staff available, festivals are being forced to start building earlier and headliners are toying with the idea of smaller productions.

John Mulder, CEO of Live Nation-owned concert and festival promoter Mojo, says he is “very concerned about this summer. There are huge logistical challenges, both in international touring and at a local level in terms of crews and people.”

The Mojo boss says it is difficult to get staff and crew, and that trucks are “a big problem” this summer.

“There are huge logistical challenges, both in international touring and at a local level”

“There are already acts that have to leave things at home because they can’t get the number of trucks. Instead of 16 trucks, headliners will probably come with less. All those rock ‘n roll trucking companies are running on only 30-40% of their staff and have sold a lot of trucks. There are no new trucks for sale due to the chip problem. But money rules, huh? At some point, of course, acts will make all kinds of crazy jumps to get stuff from A to B.”

Meanwhile, Mojo-promoted festival Pinkpop has been forced to start site construction a month ahead of schedule due to this issue.

“We mainly see problems with suppliers: the tent builders, for example, and the fencing suppliers,” said Pinkpop festival manager Niek Murray. “The pink tent has already been erected on the site because otherwise, it would not work out in the planning. We are already buffering fencing because there was no transporter to deliver it at the normal time.

“In short: three weeks ago we already started building, while we would normally only start next week. If we hadn’t had such a good relationship with the terrain, I don’t know if we would have made it all, but we didn’t have to drastically change things.”

In February, Mojo launched a new platform (www.festivalbanen.nl) featuring hundreds of festival jobs, in a bid to counteract the major staff shortage in the sector.

Many of the employers listed on the website operate at festivals including Lowlands, Pinkpop, NN North Sea Jazz, Down The Rabbit Hole and Woo Hah! x Rolling Loud.

 


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Pinkpop founder Jan Smeets retires

Jan Smeets, founder and festival director of iconic Dutch festival Pinkpop, is stepping down after 50+ years at the helm.

Smeets, 75, who was last year honoured with a commemorative coin in celebration of Pinkpop’s 50th year, is stepping back from his role as festival director with immediate effect, he announced late on Friday (18 September).

Then aged 25, Smeets – known in the Netherlands as ‘Mr Pinkpop’ – organised the first edition of Pinkpop in 1970, and the 60,000-capacity Limburg event is now the longest-running open-air festival in the world.

The unprecedented events of summer 2020 marked the first time Pinkpop – which was this year to have been headlined by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses – had not gone ahead since.

Highly regarded both in the Netherlands and internationally, Smeets is also an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau

Smeets’s team will continue to organise Pinkpop, in collaboration with Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts, according to Entertainment Business.

While taking a step back for health reasons, he will stay on in an advisory capacity: “I may have officially retired as festival director, but you certainly haven’t got rid of me!” he told staff and colleagues.

Highly regarded both in the Netherlands and internationally, Smeets is also an officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, a longstanding ILMC member, a founder of Yourope (the European Festival Association) and a winner of festival association VNPF’s lifetime achievement award.

 


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Netherlands latest EU country hit by summer event ban

There will be no festivals in the Netherlands this summer, as the Dutch government imposes a ban on all large-scale events until 1 September.

The move follows similar decisions taken in some of Europe’s biggest festival markets including Germany, Belgium and Denmark, where events are banned until 31 August, as well as slightly shorter bans in France (mid-July) Austria (end of June) and Luxembourg (31 July), and is in line with European Union guidance.

The government in the Netherlands had previously stated public events were not permitted until 1 June, affecting festivals including DGTL Amsterdam, Awakenings Easter and Dauwpop.

The extended ban has resulted in the calling off of major festivals organised by Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts, Friendly Fire – part of the CTS Eventim-owned FKP Scorpio group – and dance music giant ID&T.

“We all saw it coming, but the hammer has finally fallen: there will be no Lowlands this summer,” reads a statement on the Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (Lowlands) website, set to take place from 21 to 23 August with performances from Stormzy, the Chemical Brothers, Foals and Liam Gallagher.

“Like you, we are heartbroken. All we can do now is look to the future and promise you that we’ll make Lowlands 2021 an all-out party beyond your wildest dreams.”

“Like you, we are heartbroken. All we can do now is look to the future and promise you that we’ll make Lowlands 2021 an all-out party beyond your wildest dreams”

Mojo-promoted Lowlands is part of the Netherlands’ ‘Save your ticket, enjoy later’ campaign, supported by the Dutch government and competition watchdog ACM, encouraging fans to hang on to tickets for a later date, rather than request refunds.

Lowlands will return from 20 to 22 August 2021.

Fellow Mojo festivals, Pinkpop (Guns N Roses, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Down the Rabbit Hole (Tyler the Creator, Disclosure, FKA Twigs), North Sea Jazz Festival (Alicia Keys, John Legend, Lionel Richie) and Woo Hah! (Kendrick Lamar, Asap Ferg, Aitch) have all moved to 2021 following the ban.

The cancellation of the 8th edition of Friendly Fire’s Best Kept Secret, which had a line-up including the Strokes, the National and Massive Attack, is a “massive blow”, say organisers.

“This news has an enormous impact on our festival and everyone involved. For us it makes an enormous difference if you decide to stay with us in 2021. By doing so, you’ll help secure the foundation of Best Kept Secret so that we can organise a fantastic edition for you next year.”

Best Kept Secret returns from 11 to 13 June 2021.

Netherlands-based dance music promoter ID&T has also had a number of events affected by the extended ban. The group states “we will do everything in our power to find an alternative date for all concerned events,” with the 2021 dates for festival including Defqon.1, Awakenings, Mysteryland and Amsterdam Open Air already announced.

 


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Dutch govt bans all events until 1 June

The Dutch government has tightened up restrictions on live events, extending its existing ban on public gatherings until 1 June, applying the ban to events of all sizes and issuing fines to those not in compliance.

The new measures were announced by the cabinet on Monday evening (23 March). Under the new rules, groups of three or more not keeping one-and-a-half meters apart will be fined. Previously, events were banned until 6 April, and gatherings of up to 100 people were still permitted.

Companies not complying with the new rules will face fines or up to €4,000, whereas individuals will be charged €400.

The extension brings the event ban into festival season. Following the announcement, the organisers of DGTL Amsterdam cancelled the 2020 edition, due to take place on 11 and 12 April. Acts billed to play DGTL included Nina Kraviz, Sven Väth, Bonobo, Marcel Dettman and Honey Dijon.

“In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, we at DGTL believe in putting the health and safety of our visitors, crew, volunteers and society above all. After closely following the advice and precautionary measures from the Dutch government and health officials, it is with deep sadness that we have to officially inform you that DGTL Amsterdam will not be taking place as scheduled,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“Despite all the hard work that everyone has put into the organisation of the festival, this obviously feels like the only right decision. Our current priority is to play our part responsibly in the fight against this global health crisis.”

“In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, we at DGTL believe in putting the health and safety of our visitors, crew, volunteers and society above all”

Organisers will reach our to ticketholders in the coming weeks, offering a ticket exchange for the 2021 event or a full refund. In accordance with recent government advice, fans are urged to give organisers “time and space” and to resist getting into contact regarding refunds.

Organisers of Kingsland Festival, set to take place on 27 April in celebration of Kingsday (the Dutch King’s birthday), are currently working “to find a suitable solution with all authorities and parties involved” and ask for the understanding and patience of ticketholders.

The one-day festival takes place simultaneously in the cities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam and Tilburg. Acts scheduled to perform include Afrojack, Wizkid and Fisher.

Awakenings Easter, a four-day series of events across Amsterdam over the Easter bank holiday, will no longer take place. Awakenings Festival is still set to go ahead on June 27 and 28, with acts including Amelia Lens, Avalon Emerson, Charlotte de Witte, Helena Hauff, Ricardo Villalobos and Maceo Plex.

Mojo festivals including Paaspop (2 to 4 April), Momo Festival (16 to 18 April), Dauwpop (21 May), Ribs and Blues (30 May to 1 June) are no longer taking place, although all will return in 2021.

Major Mojo festivals such as A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise, Woo Hah!, North Sea Jazz Festival, Down the Rabbit Hole and Pinkpop are all currently going on as planned once the ban is lifted.

Other Dutch festivals going ahead this summer include Mysteryland, FKP Scorpio’s Best Kept Secret and Defqon.1 Weekend Festival.

 


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Festival Fever: more line-up announcements for 2020

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up line-ups from US festivals Coachella and Bonnaroo, and European events Wacken Open Air, Pinkpop, Melt! and Pohoda.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Wacken Open Air

When: 30 July to 1 August
Where: Wacken, Germany
How many: 75,000

Leading metal event Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours. Slipknot, Amon Amarth, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate are among those playing the 2020 event.

Speaking to IQ for a special 30th anniversary feature last year, W:O:A co-founder Thomas Jensen said the event was “kind of a home for a dedicated group of people”. Jensen and fellow Wacken co-founder Holger Hübner are to receive the lifetime acheivement gong at this year’s European Festival Awards.

Jensen and Hübner’s International Concert Service (ICS), which includes a roster of other hard rock festivals, a touring division, a booking agency (Seaside Touring), ticketing platform Metaltix and the nonprofit Wacken Foundation, received investment from James Barton-led Superstruct Entertainment last year.

Fans can sign up to the waiting list for Wacken 2020 tickets here.

W:O:A sold all 75,000 tickets for its 2020 edition in under 24 hours

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

When: 10 to 12, 17 to 19 April
Where: Empire Polo Club, California, USA
How many: 125,000

AEG/Goldenvoice-promoted mega festival Coachella is returning to the Californian desert for two consecutive weekends in April, marking the start to the international festival season.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the event, alongside performers including Calvin Harris, Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey and Flume.

Coachella 2019 saw headline performances from Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala. Last year’s festival also saw the introduction of a new, AR-enabled stage.

Tickets for both Coachella weekends are now sold out. Fans can join the waiting list for tickets here.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are headlining the 2020 event

Pinkpop

When: 19 to 21 June
Where: Megaland, Landgraaf, the Netherlands
How many: 60,000

Pinkpop, promoted by Buro Pinkpop in partnership with Mojo Concerts, last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, with founder Jan Smeets receiving a special commemorative coin to mark his achievements.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition, which also features performances from Twenty One Pilots, Rag’n’Bone Man, Anderson Paak, Nothing But Thieves and Keane.

Artists including Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons and the Cure played the festival’s anniversary event last year.

Tickets for Pinkpop 2020 are available here, priced at €230 (£195) for a three-day pass.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone and Guns N’ Roses are headlining Pinkpop for its 51st edition

Pohoda

When: 9 to 11 July
Where: Trenčín Airport, Slovakia
How many: 30,000

Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines, Metronomy, Thom Yorke, Wolf Alice and Floating Points.

The festival, which has sold out for the past two years, won the Take a Stand Award at last year’s European Festival Awards for its commitment to peace and tolerance, with festival director Michal Kaščák winning the prize for excellence and passion.

Pohoda, which means ‘peace’ in English, is nominated for the best medium festival award, line-up of the year and the health and safety innovation award at the upcoming European Festival Awards 2019, taking place on 15 January at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Tickets for Pohoda 2020 are available here, with a three-day festival ticket priced at €109 (£93).

Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest music festival, will this year welcome acts including Stormzy, the Libertines and Metronomy

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

When: 11 to 14 June
Where: Great Stage Park, Tennessee, USA
How many: 20,000

Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership.

Other announced acts include Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, the 1975, Flume and Bassnectar.

Live Nation, which had a controlling interest in the festival since 2015, acquired the remaining stake from the event’s co-founder Superfly last year. Fellow co-founder AC Entertainment continues to promote the event alongside Live Nation and C3 Presents.

Tickets for Bonnaroo 2020 are available here, with prices ranging from US$329 (£251) for general admission to $3,275 (£2,502) for a platinum pass.

Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala are headlining Bonnaroo, in the festival’s first year under full Live Nation ownership

Melt!

When: 17 to 19 July
Where: Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
How many: 20,000

Melt! Festival, one of the biggest open-air electronic music events in Germany, this year features sets from Bicep, Floating Points, DJ Stingray, Marcel Dettman, Nina Kraviz and Helena Hauff, as well as performances from Burna Boy, Little Simz and Woodkid.

Taking place at Ferropolis –‘the city of iron’ –, a former open-cast mine complete with enormous, decommissioned industrial machines, Melt! Last year featured acts including Bon Iver, Skepta, Jorja Smith, Asap Rocky, Four Tet and Solomun.

Melt! Festival creative director Florian Czok, who also works as an agent at Berlin’s Melt! Booking, was named as one of IQ’s 2019 New Bosses.

Tickets for Melt! 2020 are available here, priced at €124.95 (£106).

 


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Yourope urges voters to engage in EU elections

European music festival association Yourope has launched its We Vote for Europe campaign in collaboration with 100 festivals to engage audiences to vote in the upcoming European elections.

The pro-political participation campaign comes as the public prepares to vote in Europe-wide elections, which will take place from May 23 to 26. The campaign is supported by 100 festivals and organisations from all over Europe.

Initiated by Yourope and realised with the support of Volume and Roskilde Festival, the We Vote for Europe campaign is independent and privately funded, and carried out on a voluntary basis by its supporters. With the initiative, Yourope aims to “encourage everyone to vote in the European Election” and “show solidarity across Europe”.

Yourope also thanks festivalgoers for engaging and “celebrating your freedom at our festivals”.

Campaign tools include the hashtag WeVoteForEurope and a video featuring festival representatives from festivals across 12 European countries including Hungary (Sziget), Roskilde (Denmark), Pinkpop (Holland), Way Out West (Sweden), Pukkelpop (Belgium) and Lollapalooza Berlin (Germany).

“We want to show the solidarity across Europe”

The video is being rolled out by participating festivals and events on their own channels today (May 13). See IQ’s contribution here.

“We are the European music family. Together festivals, artists and visitors create spaces in which millions of people experience culture, music and arts every year,” states Yourope.

“We are a great example of international togetherness, solidarity, acceptance, open-mindedness and cultural diversity. Each and every one of us actively contributes to the magical moments of a festival or a concert – before, on and behind the stage.

“We also actively contribute to strengthening our society by making use of our voting rights. Because that is the basic idea of democracy: all of us decide together in what kind of society we want to live.

“That’s why we go to vote. For the future of Europe. For the future generations. For peace and a strong community – not only in the festival sector, but throughout Europe.”

 


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Jan Smeets honoured for 50 years of Pinkpop

Pinkpop founder Jan Smeets has received a golden commemorative coin, embossed with the Pinkpop logo, from the Royal Dutch Mint to celebrate 50 years of the festival.

The Dutch festival celebrates its 50th edition this year, making it the oldest, continually running festival in the world. Festival founder Smeets received the jubilee coin, embossed with the festival logo and an image of the famous ‘Pinkpop Girl’. A total of 6,000 coins will be produced.

“For this 50th edition, I am honoured that the Royal Dutch Mint has immortalised the logo for everyone,” says Smeets.

Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons and the Cure will headline the anniversary festival, with other performances from Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren, Jamiroquai, Bastille, Lenny Kravitz, the 1975 and J Balvin.

“For this 50th edition, I am honoured that the Royal Dutch Mint has immortalised the logo for everyone”

The first edition of Pinkpop took place on 1970 on Pentecost Monday in the Dutch city of Geleen. The festival has grown since its origins from a one-day event to a three-day, 60,000-capacity affair.

The image of the Pinkpop Girl has been present on the festival logo since early on and will dominate the aesthetics of the anniversary event.

Bert van Ravenswaaij, chief financial officer of the Royal Dutch Mint, comments: “It is special for the Royal Dutch Mint – virtually the oldest company in the Netherlands – to make a special anniversary issue for the oldest, still-running festival in the world. We are very proud of this.”

The 50th anniversary edition of Pinkpop takes place from 8 to 10 June on the Megaland festival site in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, tickets for the festival are now available. Fans can buy special anniversary Pinkpop medals here.

 


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Mojo magic: 50 years of Mojo Concerts

When Berry Visser opened Delft’s first discotheque in the late 1960s, he could never have imagined the decision would impact the lives of millions of people for half a century to come.

With fellow students, he ran a small cabaret venue called Mojo Theatre, but despite a weekly 100-guilder grant from the city, it needed to make more money. So they opened disco Polly Maggoo, and it was packed within a fortnight. It was the first time Visser had heard pop music and it changed his life.

Shortly after, at a concert by The Doors, Visser decided he was going to promote concerts. “So I just went to London and met Neil Warnock at [Brian Epstein’s] NEMS, and asked to book Spooky Tooth and Traffic.”

“I remember the first time I met Berry,” says United Talent Agency’s Neil Warnock. “He had long hair and looked a bit like a hippie.”

Returning to the Netherlands, Visser banged on the door of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and asked to rent the main room. They took one look at him and turned him away. So he went back to Warnock, secured Julie Felix, and tried again at the venue. They sold 300 tickets – and Mojo Concerts was born.

Bitten by the promotions bug and inspired by Woodstock, Visser contacted Bath Festival of Blues founder Freddy Bannister, who agreed to share bands with the Dutchman’s as-yet-unnamed festival. “I had no site and no money,” Visser laughs.

In 1970, a young architecture student called Leon Ramakers went to an address in Delft to buy tickets for a Led Zeppelin concert that was taking place in the Hague.

There he found Visser, “a long-haired guy sat at a table with an electric heater at his feet.” The two got talking, and Visser told Ramakers of his festival plans with Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd and Soft Machine.

Full of enthusiasm and keen to be involved, Ramakers wrote to the minister of culture asking for money, but not expecting a response. To his amazement, a week later the minister called him to a meeting and later granted the young student 25,000 guilders. “As a result of the ministry’s contribution, Coca-Cola agreed to put money in too, because they thought that if the festival was backed by the ministry then it must be OK.”

“One year we brought in barrels of petrol and set them on fire on the roof of the venue. It caused quite a commotion”

Meanwhile, Visser received a visit from Georges Knap, “dressed like a salesman”, and pitching an idea for a festival in Rotterdam. The long-haired Visser took one look at him and slammed the door. But Knap persisted, and eventually drove Visser to the site he had in mind in Kralingen. Visser was convinced, and from 26–28 June 1970, Holland Pop Festival (known locally as Kralingen Music Festival) took place near Rotterdam. Headlined by Pink Floyd, and featuring the Byrds, T. Rex and Santana. Taking place two months after fellow Dutch festival Pinkpop, it was one of the first rock festivals on continental Europe.

“It was a fantastic day,” remembers Warnock. “I was on the bus with Jethro Tull and one of them was playing the violin while we tried to get Pink Floyd into the country because they didn’t have a carnet. It was chaos, but it was frontier times back then.”

Dubbed “Europe’s answer to Woodstock”, Holland Pop was a cultural success but a financial disaster. “We lost a million guilders,” remembers Ramakers. “We sold 28,000 tickets but the gates were crashed early on and lots of people got in free.”

Although the festival was organised through a foundation, creditors pursued the fledgling Mojo Concerts. For the next four years, Visser and Ramakers lived hand-to-mouth, borrowing money wherever they could to advance bands because box offices wouldn’t release ticket money until after the shows.

But they weren’t discouraged. “We were young and we loved what we were doing,” says Ramakers. “We were convinced that eventually we were going to make it so we just kept on going.”

This work ethic and passion for music has been integral to the success of Mojo Concerts. Ramakers explains: “It’s good that we’ve made money but the primary reason we do this is it gives us pleasure. If you do something for the love and you do it properly, the money will follow.”

Then, in 1977, everything changed. Arena shows became commonplace, and Mojo Concerts were at the forefront.

“All of a sudden there was a major boost in business,” says Ramakers. “We were doing three shows with Pink Floyd, three with Supertramp, two with Eagles, Bob Marley.

“Before then, you were lucky if you made 2,000 guilders on a night. Then it was boom time.”

“Berry got it. We had similar music tastes. I’ve been working with Mojo ever since”

What put Mojo ahead of their competitors when booking the biggest artists was their attitude – a refreshing change from the dominant long-standing Dutch jazz promoters of the time. “They had the approach that the artist was their employee because they were paying them,” remembers Ramakers. “From the beginning, we understood that we were not the boss – the artist was. All the jazz promoters were stuck in the past and couldn’t adapt to the new rock business. We would make sure the artists had breakfast in the morning, which was something those others never did.”

ITB’s Barry Dickins recalls: “The biggest promoter in the Netherlands at the time was Muziek Expres magazine owner Paul Acket [founder of the North Sea Jazz Festival]. He said to me, ‘Why are you dealing with these bootleggers?’, and I told him, ‘Because they get it, and you’re an old man who doesn’t.’ Berry and I were about the same age – about 20 or 21, so to me working with Acket was like dealing with your dad. Berry got it. We had similar music tastes. I’ve been working with Mojo ever since.”

Opening Pandora’s Music Box
In a story familiar to many promoters, as the years went on, the deals got worse. “I watched them go from 60/40 to 80/20 and then 90/10,” says Visser. His solution, in 1979, was Casa Nova, a ten-day cultural fair for young people at the Ahoy Rotterdam. Rather than relying on increasingly unreliable deals, Visser decided to create other entertainment. Alongside music, it was to feature tech showcases, poetry, circus, lectures, nightclubs, film and more.

It didn’t work and Mojo Concerts went bust. The pair bought the name back a few months later for 4,000 guilders.

Then in 1983, came Pandora’s Music Box – a combination of music, theatre and art. Visser brought in artist and composer Michel Waisvisz and the pair created a programme of what they called “phenomena” – interactive and immersive performances mingling with the audience.

“We had sheep walking the marble floors after midnight; a massage parlour; a lemonade girl standing in a bikini in a glass basin filled with lemonade handing out lemonade in paper cups; old people playing cards. One year we brought in barrels of petrol and set them on fire on the roof of the venue. It caused quite a commotion,” recalls Visser

The immersive theatrical experience blew everyone’s minds. Pandora’s Music Box became legendary, and a blueprint for most festivals today. “Barry Dickins was doing a show with Diana Ross at the Ahoy, and came over to see it,” remembers Visser. “He was flabbergasted and told me if we did it in New York, we’d smash it.”

 


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