Hello and welcome to the third anniversary of The Blogging Goth! It started as a degree project but was always bound to occur when a proud Goth with a love of writing gets an internet connection. You can read the earliest article over here, back when the blog was on Tumblr.
More recently, the entire UK Goth scene has been reeling from – perhaps not unanticipated – collapse of Alt-Fest, the wildly ambitious live music festival that should have been kicking off on Friday 15th August.
Instead, rumours began circulating at light speed as bands were quietly let go from the bill, right at the end of July. Patient Zero of the cancellation plague was probably Simon Hall of Beholder, but even more solid confirmation came from Rob Ferguson of Transcend Music who had a whole roster of bands due to perform at Alt-Fest.
@DeniseJorudano I manage Fields of the Nephilim, Malefice, The Howling, Stormbringer and numerous others. Trust me – it’s off.
— Rob Ferguson (@TranscendRob) July 29, 2014
As the tweets continued in consternation, the official Alt-Fest channels were all silent. Rumours reached us that questions asked on Facebook pages and forums were being silently deleted without comment. Indeed, the ‘What Happened to Alt-Fest’ blog is a good summary of the initial chaos, made all the more deafening by the silence from the organizers.
In the interests of a straight answer, The Blogging Goth reached out to Boughton House – whose grounds would be holding the festival – only to be directed to a PR company who denied any knowledge or involvement. Inquiries to the PR company who directly represented the festival were also met with brief statements disclaiming any involvement and no comment – on or off the record – on the situation developing.
Finally, a full 24 hours after the internet began seething with worry, a statement was made on the official Alt-Fest facebook page. Unfortunately it was neither a reassurance nor a confirmation of cancellation, and the list of bands withdrawing continued to grow, with major headliners like Gary Numan, Marilyn Manson, and Clan of Xymox all stating directly they would no longer be performing. The vultures were circling, and in true style the jokes were already being cracked, even as the event fell down around our ears.
By Friday 31st, Dom and Missy – two of the three listed Alt-Fest directors – were able to make a statement. You can read it in full here, but they led with the bald facts.
It is with a heavy heart that we must confirm we have had to cancel Alt-Fest. We tried to put on a ground-breaking event for you & the alternative scene, and it was your support that was helping to make it happen. From our early days on Kickstarter through to all of you who have purchased tickets we thank you. We the organisers of Alt-Fest have done everything we can to save it, but this week we ran out of time to raise all the required funds that was needed upfront of the festival.
The simple fact was that Alt-Fest’s barrel had run dry – despite the festival not only hitting its Kickstarter goal but doubling it! Apparently, this would only cover a deposit on one major headliner – Manson, perhaps – with additional funds coming from further ticket sales and other revenue streams. This vagueness probably wasn’t helped by a “costing error” and “ultimately poor advice in the early stages” either.
A lot of concern has circulated about the situation for Kickstarter funders – as the crowd-funding website itself, naturally, doesn’t handle refunds. Their own terms of conduct state
Kickstarter does not offer refunds. A Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer’s request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward.
Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.
On Alt-Fest’s facebook page, the organizers say they’ll be in touch with those contributors directly, but many have observed that with the company responsible for Alt-Fest going into liquidation, it will fall to the administrators to decide that thorny issue. There is also no provision for those travelling long distances or with accommodation commitments that cannot be cancelled – they will have to shoulder that financial burden alone.
From the wreckage, however, some phoenixes are rising. One of the bands behind the Steampunk activities has put together an alternative, uh, to Alt-Fest. Called Full Steam Metal Racket, it’s running the same dates, albeit in a slightly less accessible place called Llanfyllin. Should your tastes run to handlebar moustaches and airships, this should be your destination!
Meanwhile, veteran London promoter Frank Flag has pulled out the stops and tapped his contacts for venues to put up many of the bands who were due to play the Goth / Industrial stages. Called S.O.S – for Save Our Scene – it’s also running the weekend of 15th-17th August with a generous portion of bands playing at Electrowerkz in the Slimelight building.
Finally, other refugees are banding together under the grimly apt title DeadFest 2014 to have a low-key camping based festival with Swansea-based DJs, so again – for you Welsh-bound former Alt-Festers, this could be another option?
If you are aware of any more Alt-Fest remnant celebrations, please let us know so we can put the information out to frustrated former attendees.
It’s also worth observing that last year, long-standing industrial / EBM / synth / glowstick-based
music festival Infest was wavering on its future as it was so comprehensively outclassed by Alt-Fest’s buying power. It has therefore been a pleasure to inform people that not only is Infest 2014 going ahead, but they have secured a last-minute headline replacement, in the form of heavyweight electro act VNV Nation. It will run as planned, the weekend following what would have been Alt-Fest’s arrival.
The overwhelming message has been one of disappointment with the organizers, of incredulity that they could have allowed such chaotic financial planning to undermine one of the most amazing lineups at a festival ever seen. Many have pointed out that Alt-Fest’s ambition was probably its undoing – with more money going on securing these headline acts, than could ever be recouped from attendees. Looking to the continued success of other UK festivals like Infest and Whtiby Goth Weekend, the lesson here seems to be starting small and working up a good reputation with the bands, promoters, and behind-the-scenes personnel who really make a festival happen.
The dust has still to settle from the sudden crash and burn of Alt-Fest, but the fallout already exists in the form of dissatisfied bands, promoters, and most of all – fans. It will take time for the UK alternative scene to recover from such high, and dashed, hopes.