Yesterday was a good day at Eurosonic. I kicked off the conference with a talk about ‘Green Festival Communication’. I know, that doesn’t sound quite sexy at all, but there were two people there from ID&T/Sensation and the Melt! Festival in Germany, and I was interested in hearing what they had to say about ‘being green’ and sustainability, because I never figured those kind of festivals as being very environmentally friendly, to be honest. It was a real inspiring talk, and a lot more exciting than I’d imagine though.
ID&T started of by telling what exactly they did in terms of these topics, and a lot of great examples passed by that I’m already jealous of. For example, all the volunteers of the festival were approached if they’d like to have a fun day with like-minded people and the organization to help out doing some work in the local environment. Everything from cleaning parks to helping out at a farm, painting sheds etcetera. It sounded (and looked) like the people were having a genuinely good time. Whether they really only did it for the fun of it or for the reward, I don’t know, but I like the idea of getting people connected with the local environment in this way and showing the locals that the organization is involved in what is happening around them.
Another great example can from the Melt! Festival. They actually won an award for being one for being the most environment-friendly festival, as I understood. Besides doing cool stuff like having a train run zig-zag through Germany, straight to the festival site and where people can rent a bed to sleep during the festival, they also noticed that a lot of the time, drivers of artists are waiting for a long time at the site, until they can go to the next spot. They thought it’d be a good idea to give the drivers some driving lessons in how to reduce the usage of fuel. This was all done in a very fun way, with drivers liking the idea of having something to do and not just hanging around to getting some tips, and speaking with people about their work.
Just like myself, a lot of people tend to instantly yawn when hearing subjects like ‘being green’ and ‘sustainability’, the speakers where also aware of that and gave some good tips about communicating to the audience about these things. First off: make sure everybody internally in your organization knows what these topics mean to your organization and festival. If there’s no internal support, there won’t be external support. Second: there’s a thin line between under- and over-communication: explain to little, and people won’t understand what you’re talking about. Talk too much, people get bored. But most importantly: make it fun for people. Explain why you want to do something, and make if fun and easy for others to get involved.
After that, I had to support Incubate’s Joost of course and went to take a look at the ‘Crossmediaal programmeren’ panel. I liked to hear about the ideas of 3voor12, and the way they create and distribute media in so many ways. Overall, I think the people in the panel where pretty much in agreement of the principles in modern-day communication and content creation. Here and there, Joost tried to spice it up a little with some statements from the background of Incubate. But the basis everyone agreed upon: doing stuff like blogging, sharing audio, video, photo, etcetera: it’s not just marketing, it’s definitely not just sales. It’s telling your own story via blogs and Twitter and all about the things you’re enthusiastic about to people who might be interested in the same stuff.
After that, I went to a “drink with Hein van der Ree” from Buma/Sterma, a panel, so we are told “without political correct answers”. Right. Most of the things I heard were very political correct answers, with everybody having a beer and Hein van der Ree sipping a glass of water. A shame really, I was hoping to hear some bolder statements instead ‘we’re really working hard on innovating and getting all of our members involved in this process’. Ah well, that’s how those things go I suppose.
So, out on the streets and on to the music. I actually saw a couple of pretty good acts yesterday. I started off with Cashier No. 9 at Huize Maas: a nice indie-folkrock band with some really good tunes and a solid live show. Especially when the band rocked out a little harder, they sounded very driven and put on a good show. Was pretty surprised by the band actually. After that, in the same venue, Zulu Winter from England performed. I had heard the name before, because they gave out a single on Double Denim Records, a nice small record label. Zulu Winter is the act that is probably least experimental on the label (they’re now signed by PIAS by the way), but still I was quite excited. And they didn’t let down. Zulu Winter looked and sounded like they belonged on this stage, in front of a packed audience. Their sound is a bit pretentious, but they’ve really got some strong songs. Reminded me a bit of Wild Beasts actually; some falsetto singing, soulful melodies. Really curious to hear what the album is going to sound like.
After that: on with the shoegazepop of The History of Apple Pie. Which was quite ok. The live sound wasn’t al that good, but the dense layers of guitar feedback, well, can’t go wrong there of course. Plus it’s a funny sight really: two small girls next to two tall, sluggish boys on the stage. I tried to get in to the Bart Constant show after that, but the line outside was crazy, so I stuck to Het Paleis for a while and saw French Films play there: a typical, English indiepop band from, uhm, Finland. Anyways: They gave an energetic show and had the tunes to back for it as well. The formula was simple: steady-as-she-goes indierock with choruses shouted out by all the band members at the same time. Definitely put a smile on my face, as it did to a lot people around me.
I ended with two acts in Vera: synthpop band Niki & The Dove from Stockholm was the first and it reminded me of Austra. The sound was incredibly big, like it was built for a stadium, which actually suited the band pretty well. Niki & The Dove is synthpop at its most theatrical, complete with semi-spiritual dances/moves and faces painted with glitter. Not all their songs are equally memorable, but ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ especially came out really well. I mean, it’s uncomplicated dance music, but at least it was done really well. After that, saw a little bit of M185 (which was ok), a bit of Clock Opera (actually a bit boring and overdone), but I really wanted to stick around for Stay+, one of the few bands I was actually really excited about seeing this weekend. I’ve been following these guys for quite some time now, and really like the mix of shrill dance music (almost like rave), lovely soundscapes and intense visual images. Tonight was no exception: I was glad to see the room was pretty full, and that the audience actually went all-out. In the midst of the stage, there was a big screen that displayed abstract visuals next to beautifully shot video clips, and besides it there were only two laptops with guys bent forward behind it. The band kicked off with an incredibly loud drone, to start pumping beats right off after that. The dynamics of the show were especially well: soundscapes were blended in to create suspension, after which cold beats kicked in again. The audience looked ecstatic, and for a shot time I felt like I was in a Hacienda-type club, amidst of the Madchester times. Perfect ending to my night (it wasn’t over yet of course, although I skipped good old Rinus) and for me, the highlight of the evening.