Right now, countless bands are basking in the afterglow of South by Southwest, while many more are in Toronto for Canadian Music Week. Rather than celebrate, however, Fucked Up's Mike Haliechuk (aka 10000 Marbles) has taken a more critical view of showcase music festivals, and he aired some of his grievances in an editorial for The Grid.
After describing his terrible first experience at SXSW (which involved sunstroke and lots of vomiting), the guitarist wrote, "With Canadian Music Fest happening right now, it's a good time to ask whether this home-grown festival is intended to benefit Canadian bands, and if a music industry conference in this city is really equipped to highlight what's great about Toronto's music community."
He went on to question the relevancy of music festivals in an age when artists can achieve fame through internet buzz without the need to jump through industry hoops. Festivals like SXSW, CMW and North by Northeast, he claimed, "make winners out of a handful of already high-profile buzz bands, as well as lifestyle, clothing, and soft-drink companies that use attendees as a captive audience to blast with free samples and billboards. And they make losers out of the hundreds of showcasing bands, who underwrite the process by paying registration fees and providing music free of charge, only to walk away with nothing."
He went on to insult the lineup at Canadian Music Fest, saying that contained "a motley crew of random imported acts (Passion Pit, Slash), antiquated Canadian mainstays (I Mother Earth, Treble Charger), major-label tax write-offs (Marianas Trench, Hedley), and critical darlings (Cloud Nothings, Sheezer, Dinosaur Bones)."
In Toronto's fertile music climate, Haliechuk wrote, "our festivals have a long way to go until they catch up with our bands." On the other hand, he had some nice things to say about ALL CAPS!, Over the Top and Wavelength, so the guy's clearly not opposed to all festivals.
Go here to read the entire piece.
For another view on the potential evils of a music fests like SXSW, read Exclaim!'s 2011 opinion piece about the fest here.