If this post was enough to cause the organisers of Gigbeth to throw a hissy fit then I may have to go into hiding for what I'm about to say. Inspired by Russ L's post wondering what Gigbeth actually is I realised I had very little idea myself. Having taken a few minutes to look over their website I've come to the conclusion that its one of two things. The cynic in me (which is, lets face it, most of me) struggles to see it as anything other than a media graduate's vanity project designed more to enhance their CV than actually have any impact, but I suppose it could possibly just be the most incompetent attempt to actually start a worthwhile music festival that I could ever have imagined. There are massive problems with every aspect from the initial concept through to the organisation of the event and I now realise why no-one else I know who works outside of the Custard Factory has even heard of it despite this being the third year of the festival.
The most obvious problem is the lineup, there is a complete lack of focus with a few events each from various unrelated genres with not enough of any one type of music to actually attract people to the idea of treating it as a festival and going to several events. I'm sure some of the individual events could attract reasonable crowds (this is being generous, by 'some' I really mean 'three' since other than The Young Knives, Guillemots and Sugarhill Gang there's precious little to attract anyone but hardcore local music fans) but I don't see many people wanting to go to more than one or two things. Of course, this would be near impossible anyway since virtually all the events seem to happen simultaneously with no sign of there being anything happening before 7pm on the Saturday and only the thrilling prospect of two members of the Wonderstuff any earlier on Sunday. Surely one of the main parts of a festival is that you can spend all day watching bands not just go to a normal gig-length event in the evening?
The festival website is also an embarrassment, with links missing all over the place(note how the 'buy tickets' links are all working fine), a blog which redirects you to the main festival site when you try to leave a comment, no detail past a name for most of the events and not even any myspace links for the majority of the bands on the lineup (if they actually get a mention, which quite a lot don't)
Maybe its slightly harsh to compare the event to In The City since Brum is sadly lacking its own Tony Wilson to promote the event but it can't really be helped given that they appear to be attempting to cover the same ground and all I can say is ITC really doesn't need to worry too much about its tagline of "The world's premier new music event" being challenged any time soon. I realise it is far more established but the history page proves it was far superior even in its first year (of course, I can only compare it to this years Gigbeth since there is no mention of the previous events on the Gigbeth site save for some claims that you can watch movies and see photos from them, which I would be very interested to do if only there was an actual link to such a thing)
The waste of potential here is an utter crime, at its basic level a festival based in various locations in Digbeth is a great idea and I sincerely hope Gigbeth will deliver one day, I just wish it could have been this year.