ZOO8 - What happened?
From what could have ended up as a total disaster, it actually turned out to be a really successful show, at least for us. Here's what happened from what we witnessed...
We arrived at Port Lympne Wildlife Park around 2 pm with no idea what was going on. The local crew told us we had cancelled, news to us! No-one had played on the main stage yet, the local stage hands (unsure they were getting paid) had walked off in protest to the farce that was unfolding and the second stage had been completely shut down. The stage manager, who was trying to deal with the unfolding chaos, had just been fired and was being circled by security eager to find a reason to pounce on him, what had we walked into?
We knew that we'd been given the run around by the promoters in the run up the the show. Half the fee was supposedly transfered to our bank account in advance but the truth was, it was never sent, they'd blatantly lied to us. This had our agent and management very nervous as we've been fucked over by dubious promoters in the past and we still have our own crew costs, flights, accommodation and production expenses to cover. It quickly became apparent the promoters didn't have the money to pay us. Some excuse was given about Ticketmaster holding all revenue until after the event (which is normal incase of cancellation) which left them in a hole with barely anything to run the festival. We heard rumor that Mark Ronson was paid with wheel barrows of pound coins from the onsite bars, desperate measures indeed, and a whole list of acts seemed to be canceling or being forced to cancel as they wouldn't be paid. Roni Size and his crew got back on their bus and left in disgust and it looked like we'd be doing the same. We decided to wait around until 6 pm to see what unfolded before we'd leave.
Mid-afternoon the crowd at the main stage was audibly pissed off and you could sense the tension from backstage. I thought we were gonna witness a riot, as punters (who'd paid a lot for tickets) where baking in the heat and nothing was happening, luckily some guy with an acoustic bravely went on stage on to try and calm the atmosphere, but for how long would that work???
Around 5:30 a group of executive types from the zoo arrived and in a move to save face for the festival and wildlife park, took the event over. I believe they bought out the original promoters, took control of the festival and secured the fees of those acts that had remained wanting to perform. Rich (our tour manager) saw the organizers being escorted off site by police, what a fall from grace!
It seemed that the festival was saved. The main stage finally got going and I watched Hadouken play a blinder and British Sea Power were very entertaining. Me and Tav took a walk around the site and realized there were far too many smaller stages / tents for the size of the festival. I saw one band playing in a completely empty tent... the whole thing was an organizational disaster. Being only in it's second year there would obviously be some associated teething problems but I felt like we were walking through a car crash. Backstage I met Gary from The Cribs and we made small talk about US visas amongst other bass man stuff! ha. He's seems like a good guy.
Later in the evening we went on stage a little later than billed, which was fine with us as our light show benefited from the dark, and we had a great time. The crowd was big (around 10,000) and they went off which was amazing as they were generally quite young. Mission accomplished we hung out and watched The Cribs who put on a great show and then headed back to London as we'd be flying back to New York early the next morning.
Had the Zoo not stepped in we would have been going home out of pocket for thousands in costs, having wasted our time out of the studio, and extremely pissed off. Instead we were able to pull out a killer show from the clutches of disaster. Thank you Port Lympne Wildlife Park you really saved us!
Ps. Seems my interview with the local BBC Kent radio ended up being broadcast on Radio 1's news and quoted over the main BBC website. Nice! After reading comments posted on the ZOO8 facebook and other websites it seems we got off lightly with what we had to deal with!
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my...
Photo Gallery: Zoo8 Festival, Kent 05/07/08 (Linda Cox)