All I have heard this week is people local and otherwise either lamenting the loss or celebrating the demise of the supposed international level Mclarens Falls Festival that was due to be held in Tauranga over the course of three days in January next year.
And what would a passing Tauranga music news event be without me throwing my uneducated, overly opinionated 2 cents around like a man on a early 19th century spending spree?
Personally I was nonplussed by the whole event. Flaming Lips are pretentious. Kurt Vile is overrated. Mac Demarco is a hipsters wet dream. And who the fuck are Disclosure? Really the idea of a festival taking place in an area I associate with formative and lasting childhood memories and then having some shirt twirling festival douche bag defecate all over them was anathema. But that is me...
For others the Mclarens Falls Festival was the biggest and best thing ever to happen musically for this region - Beach Boys tribute shows aside. And those people, personal cynicism restrained - were right. The boon to the local accommodation, tourism, music, hospitality sectors would have been substantial with the influx of beer drinking, fatty food smashing, sun roasting extroverts. But alas with the sudden announcement of Mclarens Falls Festival shifting its location to Auckland and trimming the fat to a two day event one needs to ask what went wrong?
While most are happy to point the finger directly at the Tauranga City Council and the curmudgeonly music hating citizens of the Kaimai ranges one must come to their defence and shift the blame back to the promoters in this instance.If the reports are in fact correct and they had not applied for resource consent for use of the park for a festival of this size and scope then their stupidity must be scoffed at. To book bands, start promotion, build hype, sell tickets, make promises and base a marketing campaign around the beautiful natural setting of Mclarens Falls without actually having confirmed use of the park is beyond retarded.
One could theorise that the sheer scope of the venture became too much for the organisers to cope with. With amendments still to be made in order to satisfy environmental, traffic, residential concerns - all no doubt adding up to a large financial burden, then the decision to move to a better prepared festival Auckland setting makes sense. But this comes at a greater expense - the confidence of the event going public.
The basic model for putting on events is to sell enough tickets in pre-sales to cover outgoing expenses in the lead up to the gig itself. Mclarens Falls Festival will now be pushing Wayne Coyne up hill in order to cover their losses in order to refund the many tickets of Tauranga residents unable to commute to Auckland, those who paid an additional amount to camp, a new marketing campaign including a revised name/poster, additional consent costs and wasted time from their Tauranga foray.
I’m a hack writer so I don’t know what truly happened up on the lonely dusty trail to Mclarens Falls Park - maybe the locals made it harder on the organisers than what has been reported, perhaps the council fucked up royally with their consents mail room or could it be that the haunted woods of the Kaimai ranges sent the great ghost duck of the Mclarens Falls Park to wish them a dire warning that if 10,000 festival douchebags descended on their lake then the Ducks would rise with a taste of human blood come festival time.
Part of me regrets that this festival didn’t happen. The complete clusterfuck of one way bridge traffic jams, noise complaints, riots and a damn of drunk dead corpses flooding the Tauranga plains would have been a sight to see. But it was never to be - Glastonbury level festivals are not Taurangas style. We excel at Reggae festivals, a touch of Jazz in the CBD and a little beer with our blues but extravagant alternative festivals in the backwoods would never have worked.
So maybe we have a debt of gratitude to pay the organisers - they gave us a taste of what might have been but without actually subjecting us to the horror of several thousand hipsters descending on our quiet sleepy town. Tauranga just isn’t ready for such a sweeping change into the future. We are a big city but we still have our small town attitude and it is one we will have for awhile yet. But for a few months we got to pretend and play Auckland Jr.
And next time we will be ready.... Maybe.