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IFF 2019 gets under way

The fifth International Festival Forum (IFF) kicked off today, Tuesday 24 September, with a day of speed meetings between agent and festival delegates.

IFF, an invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents, is taking place at venues around Camden, North London, from 24 to 26 September.

This year’s sold-out edition has doubled the amount of networking space around the main venue, Dingwalls, and introduced pop-up agency offices within, or close by, the conference.

United Talent Agency (UTA), one of IFF’s agency partners, is hosting the opening party tonight at the Camden Assembly, allowing delegates to begin their conference in style, with an evening of canapes and cocktails.

Later on, a showcase by fellow partner Solo Agency sees artists Chinchilla, Electric Enemy, Wild Front and Paradisia perform at IFF venue the Monarch.

IFF, an invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents, is taking place at venues around Camden, North London, from 24 to 26 September

Other showcase highlights over the next few days include Brighton buzz band Squid (ATC Live) London-based six-piece Sports Team (Primary Talent); guitar trailblazers Life (ITB); alt-rockers Happyness (Pitch & Smith); 21-year old Hull native and hotly tipped new talent Charlotte (Paradigm); and Niklas Paschburg (Toutpartout).

X-ray Touring’s showcase offering, meanwhile, includes multi-platinum-selling band the Darkness.

Conference sessions begin tomorrow, with topics including festival billing, consolidation, competition from new market entrants, gender splits on line-ups, and niche events appearing on the bill. This year’s IFF Keynote interview is Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans.

To wrap up IFF’s fifth anniversary event on Thursday evening, a joint birthday party will be held with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year) and Japan’s Summer Sonic’s (20 this year).

Full event information can be found at www.iff.rocks.

 


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Wacken 2020 sells out in 21 hours

The 30th edition of Wacken Open Air (W:O:A) closed on Saturday 3 August, with “all expectations fulfilled” and tickets for next year’s festival already cleared out.

Wacken 2019 took place from 1 to 3 August. Acts playing across the three-day festival included Slayer, Parkway Drive, Prophets of Rage and Sabaton.

“This year’s Wacken really was fantastic,” W:O:A co-founder Thomas Jensen tells IQ. ”I couldn’t have asked for any more music-wise, performances all round were of a great quality.”

Jensen admits that customers got “a bit damp”, but says the festival team “can’t complain”. Part of the festival site was closed off on Friday, in anticipation of a possible lightning storm, but opened again shortly after.

“We were lucky with the weather in the end,” says the Wacken co-founder, adding that “the crew did a tremendous job, as always.”

Tickets for next year’s festival went on sale on Sunday at 11 p.m., with all 75,000 tickets selling out in just 21 hours.

The speed of ticket sales for the 2020 event surpasses that of last year. Wacken shifted tickets for its anniversary event in just over one week.

“This year’s Wacken really was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for any more music-wise”

“We […] are honestly overwhelmed by what just happened,” reads a statement by festival organisers, thanking fans for their “incredible loyalty”.

The statement reveals next year’s international focus will be on South- and Central America, “for a metal journey into the realms of the Mayans and Aztecs.”

Last year, Wacken joined forces with Electronic Sports League (ESL) to introduce its very own 1,800 square-metre esports arena, allowing festivalgoers to compete in amateur tournaments, set to the soundtrack of heavy metal.

Other features of the festival include concerts in Wacken’s “metal church”, a 1,300 square-metre onsite supermarket, a  cinema area dedicated to films about the world of metal and the Middle Ages-themed Wackinger Village.

Wacken 2020 will take place from 30 July to 1 August. Already announced acts include Judas Priest, Amon Amarth, Mercyful Fate and At the Gates.

Jensen explained the simple ethos behind Wacken in a recent IQ article: “We weren’t thinking: what is the best music to put onstage at Wacken? The question was: how do we get enough people to Wacken for this metal show?”

Read the rest of IQ‘s Wacken anniversary feature here.

Wacken to the Jungle: How W:O:A became a world-leading metal brand


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Wacken to the Jungle: How W:O:A became a world-leading metal brand

The Wacken 2019 poster says everything you need to know.

The festival name at the top of the poster is far bigger than that of any band, and the iconic bull’s head beneath it bigger still, glowering over a design that looks somewhat like a gravestone. Anyone could tell this was a metal festival, and looking at the sheer number of names, they’d know it was one of the big ones.

And then the band logos, like an insanely ornate roll call of heaviness: Sabaton, Demons & Wizards, Slayer, Parkway Drive, Powerwolf, Body Count, Within Temptation, Prophets of Rage, Anthrax and more than 150 more, gradually getting smaller as your eye scans down until they’re barely legible, like some sort of heavy metal eye test.

On the eve of its 30th edition, which runs from 1–3 August, it’s hard to find anything but goodwill for Wacken, whose founders Thomas Jensen and Holger Hübner have, over three decades, somehow created a global metal mecca in a small village in Schleswig-Holstein.

“Wacken is the originator and the ultimate festival for any metal act to headline or play at,” says X-ray Touring’s Adam Saunders. “They have the most dedicated and hardcore fans anywhere, and they’ve got mud. Fuck, have they got mud…”

Coda Agency’s Tom Taaffe agrees. “What Wacken have built is pretty special, and you’ll find it hard to see anything quite like it again,” he says. “You won’t find any hard rock or heavy metal artist who does not aspire to play that festival.”

Dominik Meyer at Cobra Agency calls Wacken “a special place for everyone who loves heavy metal music. If you want to understand what Wacken is all about, you need to go there. It is the biggest metal festival in Europe, but at the same time, it is so much more than that.”

“Wacken is the originator and the ultimate festival for any metal act to headline”

Hard core
Jensen himself combines a winning humility with an articulate analysis of his festival’s power. “For a dedicated group of people, Wacken is kind of their home,” he says at one point. “It’s not something we did on purpose but it’s the centre of the world for them.”

Clearly, Wacken is a one-off – a family gathering for up to 95,000 hard-rockers. Year after year, it lays on an extravagant banquet of metal, including side-by-side main stages and a legendary battle of the bands, lubricated by a mile-long beer pipeline from a local brewery. It is also supported by a village that mobilises obligingly around the festival, from front-garden snack shops to the Wacken fire brigade brass band playing rock classics for headbanging fans in the municipal pool.

“What we are doing, and the way we talk, sometimes might look to an outsider like Spinal Tap”

We’ve got fun and games
Wacken has a silly side, it’s true. “What we are doing, and the way we talk, sometimes might look to an outsider a little bit like Spinal Tap,” muses Jensen. But it also has something any festival would love to have: an entirely authentic brand that’s a magnet for fans who share a burning passion.

Jensen deflects much of the credit to his experienced team, to the bands and to the audience itself. “It has a life of its own,” he says. “Fans make friends with other fans, and they meet again at Wacken. There are stories we know nothing about.”

But there’s obviously something in Wacken’s approach that young festivals might do well to note. “We were trying to find an audience for our music,” says Jensen. “We weren’t thinking: what is the best music to put onstage at Wacken? That wasn’t the question. The question was: how do we get enough people to Wacken for this metal show?”

“If we didn’t do it ourselves, nobody was going to do it for us”

Appetite for distraction
It began with some bored, frustrated young rock fans in Germany’s northernmost state. “I was a regular north German metal fan,” says Jensen. “I was the bassist in a punk band that split up, because in the countryside, north of Hamburg, there were nearly no gigs. It was really teenage wasteland, I would say.”

Powered by what Jensen calls “our punk mentality: we know nothing, but let’s get started,” Jensen and friends began organising their own parties. “If we didn’t do it ourselves, nobody was going to do it for us,” says Jensen.

Jensen’s enthusiasm was more notable than his musical abilities. “I was the bass player, organising things. Some bass players are the musical leader of the group, like Steve Harris or Lemmy. That’s one kind of bass player. I was the other kind, who knows nothing.”

An early recruit to the embryonic Wacken cause was DJ Holger Hübner, a fan of Bruce Springsteen and U2 and a member of the Pogues fan club – a fact that accounts, according to Jensen, for a smattering of German bands playing Irish-influenced folk-punk on early bills. “They wouldn’t get away with it in Dublin, but in north Germany it worked.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 84, or subscribe to the magazine here

Wacken Open Air 2019 sold out already

Just weeks after the closing acts of this year’s festival, tickets for Wacken Open Air 2019 have already sold out. A total of 75,000 tickets have been purchased for the 2019 event, which will celebrate 30 years of the world’s biggest heavy metal gathering.

In a statement on their website, the Wacken team thanked fans for their show of support. “We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now,” it reads.

“We promise to achieve an Anniversary which you shall remember for a long time! You are and were always the heart of our festival and without you all of this would not be possible.”

However, amongst the excitement and gratitude, organisers have also issued a warning to fans who were unable to get tickets to next year’s event to stay away from secondary ticketing outlets.  Organisers have told fans to avoid buying tickets from eBay, Viagogo, Laolaevents, Global-tickets, Eventtickets24 and tickets75, adding that this list of what they deem to be untrustworthy retailers may be added to in the run up to 2019’s event.

“We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now”

“We have no business relationship with these and other platforms and dealers,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Many of the pages have not only attracted attention by inflated prices, but also by the sale of stolen or deactivated tickets. In some cases, they are even selling tickets that they do not own at all.”

Their warning follows a recent similar caution from the Singapore Police Force, after a rise in the number of fraudulent tickets being sold through secondary marketplaces. In some cases, victims parted with up to S$400 only to receive blank sheets of paper in place of tickets.

Fans are being advised to join the Wacken Open Air 2019 official waiting list for tickets. It is expected that a number of spaces will come available over the course of the next ten days, due to ticket returns and advance payments not being made in time.

 


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