BLOG: Chill out! The Big Chill line-up isn’t all about commercialisation

Tom Crowther argues that The Big Chill line-up isn't an act of commercialisation.

So The Big Chill have named their line-up for their annual bash, with names like Kanye West taking some by surprise. It’s already caused a split within the realms of Twitter, with some going as far as saying: “it’s a shocking example of commercialisation”. But is this really a fair accusation?

What some have not realised is that the festival has booked commercial acts in the past. Sure, this year’s line-up may not feature as much variation as last years, but The Big Chill still has a nice balance of commercial acts with some of the best underground artists around. There are few festival-goers that wouldn’t want to catch Kanye West live and The Chemical Brothers have a cracking live reputation with a history of wowing crowds at dozens of festivals worldwide.

Admittedly, some of the smaller acts on show at The Big Chill are more ‘commercial’ than in the past but what’s wrong with Big Chill being ambitious? Considering that two of Britain’s major festivals (V Festival and Glastonbury) have already booked headliners with a similar reputation to Kanye (Rihanna and Beyonce), why can’t The Big Chill try and attempt to attract a greater audience? The festival still has all of its noted smaller stages, and with further announcements on the way, fans can still expect to catch some of the more obscure acts on the Starburst and Paradiso stages.

It all depends on the definition of the term commercial. The Big Chill have managed to get Kanye West to play but does that not constitute the festival still keeping with its recent reputation of bringing great artists to a great festival? The Big Chill turned more commercial in 2008 from the moment they booked Basement Jaxx for 2009 and after a booking of that magnitude organisers had to continue seeking bigger artists to keep its audience, that’s why they booked Lily Allen and M.I.A last year.

I certainly understand frustrations in some quarters that the festival has become far too genre-focused and the inclusion of some different sounding artists wouldn’t have gone amiss. But in all fairness, there is plenty of variety with Mahala Rai Banda, The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Quantic and His Combo Barbaro and Femi Kuti & the Positive Force all set to play too. You only have to look at Glastonbury bill to see the effects that booking every style of music has had: it’s not all about the headliners.

So Big Chill fans can feel that the festival has become too commercial but it’s a claim without any evidence. Ultimately the proof will come when the festival announces its entire line-up, but at every festival you can still find leftfield artists on the smaller stages. Fans of The Big Chill need to realise that is it not 2008 and The Big Chill aren’t going to book small artists for a small festival anymore.