Reading and Leeds Festival organiser speaks out
Melvin Benn reveals 'mixed feelings' about 2011 line-up
Chris Eustace on 13 February 2012
The Festival Republic boss named 2manydjs as one of his highlights in a series of videos.
Responding to questions from Reading Festival forum
users as part of an online focus group, the festival organiser enthused about the Radio 1/NME stage and outlined
improvements for this year, as well as revealing more about the new ticket
instalment plan scheme, and letting slip that there “would not be a huge amount” of metal acts playing
the 2012 event.
Confirming that Reading Festival 2011 had sold out, he insisted that he had “always thought the line-up was strong enough,” but, amid criticism over last year’s bill, admitted: “I was mixed about the line-up in a way. I thought some of it worked and some of it didn't, [but] that's always the case. I was nervous about some aspects of it and that probably bore through. But there were massive performances throughout the weekend.”
Benn was particularly enthusiastic about the enlarged Radio 1/NME stage, which last year grew to become the biggest tented stage in Europe, and 2manydjs’ headline slot there on the Sunday night of the event: “It’s an opportunity for bands to demonstrate they've taken a step up. A lot of people were surprised at 2manydjs headlining. Neil [Pengelly, Reading & Leeds band booker] thought it was entirely appropriate for a dance band to headline. I thought that was a stunning set.”
He also spoke about Jane’s Addiction’s last-minute withdrawal from the same stage the day before, saying: “They were in the dressing room and decided that Perry [Farrell]'s voice wasn't up to it. It was Perry’s decision. I didn't think it was appropriate that we got stick for that.”
Having previously said that Reading & Leeds’ audience was being “badly affected by government cuts”, he also confirmed that a ticket instalment plan was being introduced: “The instalments will be two or four-part, and you can choose which one you want.” Full details of the ticket instalement plan have been announced.
The Festival Republic boss also clarified why the line-up is only announced when tickets are about to go on sale: “Ultimately we're trying to create a festival. The rumours are out there, some are true and some aren't. We'll be onsale by mid-March, you don't have to buy a ticket for the others before hearing ours! I don't really want to be releasing single acts without releasing what the body of a festival is.”
He also appeared to rule out a metal headliner for this year’s festival, saying: “It’s about what me and Neil think is right for the festival that year. There won't be a huge amount of metal there this year. There'll be some, but not a huge amount.”
He did however, raise the possibility that the festival may be streamed online in future, in the manner of Coachella's mutli-stage live feed last year: "I will look into it, it's something I'd like to make happen. Ultimately, I cant guarantee the bands will allow it, they have to give their permission, bands and record companies are nervous about it."
While “no additional features” are planned for this year, Benn did confirm he’s looking at changing the video screens, along with increasing the number of women’s toilets in the arena, and while car parking arrangements will be reviewed, he conceded that “It’s about trying to leave either much earlier or later than you think most other people will.”
Benn promised more real ale, an improved cup collection scheme, and a pump for the Portman Road Bridge, near the Yellow and Orange campsites, after heavy rain left six inches of water there last year.
He also pledged that traders who changed their prices midway through last year’s festival would not be allowed back for this year’s event.
No acts have been announced for the Reading and Leeds Festival line-up, check out our Reading and Leeds rumours.
Reading Festival 2012 takes place in Richfield Avenue, Reading on 24-26 August.
Leeds Festival 2012 take place in Bramham Park, Wetherby, Leeds from 24-26 August.