Time for a T-Break, T in the Park?


By Kristin Hay

Around 3.5 million of us plan to go to festivals each year for many reasons. For me, it’s the music. Music so loud it reverbs round your rib cages. Live music, raw and unpolished, from musicians old and new, legendary and up-and-coming. I love the energy that comes from music fans: desperate to get to the front, covered in what we hope is mud, soaking in what we hope is beer and rain. But it doesn’t matter – because of the music.

This brings me to T in the Park. We all know that over the past two years, Scotland’s biggest festival has taken a bit of a beating in terms of customer satisfaction and publicity. In July 2016, DF Concerts slashed the festival’s capacity by 15 000 to accommodate its new venue, Strathallan Castle, which in 2015 saw the highest number of complaints the festival has received in its history. Since then, the festival has struggled to sell out, and a number of explanations have been offered to explain why.

For me, it’s because TITP has lost its identity. Over the past few years, the festival has shifted from its rock roots and has tried to appeal to a wider audience, with DJs emerging from their usual Slam Tent dwellings and hitting the main stages year after year. There is the increased presence of pop stars at the festival too, with Beyoncé, Ellie Goulding and Paloma Faith all making an appearance. The music is definitely more generic than a decade ago.

Yes, it is good that TITP is becoming more mainstream, but with that brings some people who aren’t fans of music and who are only after a weekend away with their #Squad, drinking and taking MDMA. The electrifying energy that comes with live music just. Isn’t. There. The rush to get to the front swapped in exchange for a seat up the back with a box of Blossom Hill. Desperate for a line-up that pleases everyone, it seems T has managed to lose true music fans as a result. Even the line-up has become predictable, how many times can one see Artic Monkeys encore with ‘505’ on the Friday, after all?

Personally, I feel that there is still space for TITP in the UK Festival Scene and it still ranks among the best and biggest in the world. However, it has to remember the festival it was and stop trying to be a festival it isn’t. Perhaps I’m biased, or old-fashioned even, but I feel that T would benefit more going back to its roots, where Rage Against the Machine and Cypress Hill would be an easy choice over Nicki Minaj and Sam Smith – who are better-received at chart-orientated festivals like VFest and BBC1’s Big Weekend. TITP has to have faith that if they put on the right artists, true fans will come. We’re waiting.

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