Are the gloves truly off ladies and gentlemen? Because this could be about to get interesting.
It’s no secret that the Big Day Out and Soundwave are arch-rivals. It could be argued that some of the recent efforts by Soundwave to corner the hard rock and metal market is one of the reasons that Big Day Out has been struggling as of late. After all, that was their market undisputed for over a decade.
But back to the present, the Big Day Out this year has been marred by a series of setbacks, from fan backlash after the lineup was announced, to lacklustre ticket sales, culminating in the festival being downgraded after co-promoter Vivian Lees decided to jump ship.
It really is a stark difference from their rivals at Soundwave, who despite setbacks in 2011 including the collapse of Soundwave Revolution and some teething problems at Harvest have defied the odds and sold out three of the five dates for this year’s Soundwave Festival.
Now in a candid interview with The Vine, Big Day Out promoter Ken West has gone into explicit detail into what he meant in comments made to the New Zealand Herald in December last year where he touched on the subject of increased competition and a bidding war for talent. Taking aim at Soundwave’s promoter AJ Maddah, West said “I’ll say it to his face — I don’t think AJ’s got any interest in anything but his own agenda.”
“He hasn’t got any interest in the Australian music scene whatsoever,” he continued. “He should go to another country. He’s done more harm to what was a reasonably stable business here by being a financial anarchist. And it’s a bit of a shame really. ‘Cause having 90 international acts come in on one show — I don’t even know how that’s legal. There’s no financial logic to what he’s doing, and I’ve just got to ride that out. That’s all it really comes down to.”
“Hat’s off to him, he’s done really well this year [with Soundwave],” said West. “[But] at the same time he’s been trying to spin it that it was Van Halen that everyone was waiting for. The Big Day Out knows that it’s easier when we put a big metal band on. And it’s a lot harder when we go down a more diverse complex path.”
“But the one thing is, we started first,” claims West defiantly in the interview. “[We] planned it first, and [now] pretty much all the other events have taken the research and development that we’ve done and put it back into their own show. [Without] offering any new revelations or efforts, without [now] copying what we’ve already done. I’m more than happy to say that.”
“And I think that in the long run I would hope that [Maddah] could become a little bit more…caring. You know, this is the guy who said he didn’t like doing timesheets with Portishead. It’s easy to write on your press release what [your festival’s] going to be. It’s really hard to do it.”
The unusual step of calling out his rival is new for West who up until the last few months has traditionally stayed out of the spotlight and avoided controversy, unlike Maddah who is infamous for his Twitter outbursts that have landed him in hot water a number of times with artist management and sometimes even the artists themselves.
Maddah is yet to respond publicly on his account but we’re sitting here with baited breath and a large box of popcorn waiting to see if this baby blows or fizzles. Sound off in the comments on your thoughts. Do you think Big Day Out are just whining, or do they have valid points about Soundwave?
UPDATE (12th January 2012 @ 5:36pm): Soundwave promoter AJ Maddah has responded to Ken West’s criticism with the following amusing tweet. Good way to defuse the situation AJ.
@alexlanglands That is awesome. I am putting that on my email signature-line.
— AJ (@iamnotshouting) January 12, 2012