Not-so-Magic Summer

(NB: Mel’s opinions… may not reflect those of the rest of the band. Though I suspect they’re not so very different. – M)

I was interested to see an article on the BBC news website last week asking whether Magic Summer Live, which has replaced Guilfest as the summer music festival in Guildford after Guilfest went under last autumn, has a long-term future, as the festival had only sold about half of the available tickets for each day.

Last year I missed Guilfest because I was busy rehearsing for the Olympics, but we (my husband and I) have been several times over the past few years — Stoke Park is commuting distance from our house, so we could drop in for part of the weekend if that worked better for us, rather than needing to worry about camping and committing to the whole weekend.

I was surprised to see that Magic Summer Live’s organisers were claiming that “We can bring a level of acts that Guilfest could never get.”. I can only assume that they’ve not been paying a lot of attention to the acts that Guilfest has brought in over the past years. Madness? Pulp? Motörhead? Van Morrison? Joan Armatrading? Status Quo? Yes, tiny little acts that could be got by any festival, obviously…

But one of the main things that Guilfest had, and that Magic Summer Live either did not have or completely failed to advertise, was any level of reaching out to smaller local acts to play on some of the smaller stages — and trust me, I looked. (Indeed, it wasn’t clear whether they even had any smaller stages.) Feature Creep know several acts who’ve played at Guilfest in previous years and we would have loved to play there this year — we were certainly intending to apply — had it been running. Yes, a slot on the bill at Guilfest usually meant needing to sell a certain number of tickets, but the numbers weren’t wholly unreasonable (especially not if you are a band of six adults; perhaps harder if you are a duo and both still at school…).

I think Magic Summer would get a lot more traction locally if they opened up to local bands. Maybe that will mean more stages — but what of it? Give people more options and you may well see higher attendance. I didn’t have any interest in seeing Jamiroquai or Bryan Adams, but if one or more bands I knew personally had been playing? Of course I’d've bought a ticket.

Still, at least we have the Epsom Music Festival to look forward to!

Leave a Comment