The Importance of the Little Festival – Why Small Promoters Still Matter
Just prior to Halloween 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a small three stage Festival in Fresno, California called Electric Fairy Tale. The festival was produced by K–Lin Events, and featured some of the most incredible and long-lasting names in Trance music as headlining acts.
Think Solarstone, Alex M.O.R.P.H., and Talla 2XLC. Likewise the festival partnered with an organization called Ghetto House Radio, which brought a variety of house music styles to a secondary stage, including long time house legend Richard Vision.
What makes this festival unique was not the headlining talent, though they certainly helped sell tickets, but instead it helped provide a breeding ground for new growing talent. Acts like Johnny Yono, Monoverse, Manuel Le Saux, Nick G, and Eddy Santana all received primetime slots to warm up the crowd before the headlining acts across the multiple stages. This gave the event the opportunity to explore more diverse sounds, and allow the artists to reinvigorate their image as showcased through careful marketing and personal identities.
However the above point would be lost if it only focused on those known in the main room opening slots, or in some cases the rising stars of the main room. Acts like Josh Taylor, Mr. Brooks, Zicram, Eff of Ex, along with a whole host of other talents were able to make the most of the opportunity to showcase their sound, their strengths, and ultimately their musical identities to the willing participants who drove from all over California and got there in the early hours of the festival. These talents were given the opportunity to paint a canvas of sound and experience what a festival stage really feels like.
The festival occurred as a Central Valley celebration of the Halloween season, and attendees were dressed up in a variety of costumes expressing their own identities. As many other festivals during this time have grown, this aspect has become something lost, often mired due to security concerns or perceived ease of smuggling in one or another drug. Attendees here instead had the opportunity to express their style and flair, adding to the festive decoration and carnival atmosphere; something produced by K-Lin Events via procuring three separate carnival rides: a Ferris wheel, The Tornado, and a cyclone style ride.
Why does this matter? In short, because the creative space for the up-and-coming musician or DJ is becoming harder and harder to find. The smaller-in-scale promoter is the tour-de-force for the creative artist to grant the opportunity to flourish and morph into something even more. It allows for new artist to break the mold, to shuffle the deck, and to try something new, or even perhaps unknown, to a populace outside their home area. It allows the fringe genres, the builders of a successful night, or those willing to expand their musical tastes an opportunity to find new exciting sounds. It how your locals become your future hero in the scene.
It is the small promoters, the upstarts, those willing to take the chance that are able to change the makeup of the major events from the big-time promoters. It is how the big time promoters got to be big time promoters as well. Events such as Electric Fairy Tale offer a launching pad for new ideas, new constructs, and, of course, new experiences that may be lost upon big events such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival, or Tomorrowland. While these big festivals do offer a plethora of choices and musical styles, they focus on heavily established names and offer newcomers very little opportunity for exposure. These small festivals also offer the larger talents the option of spreading their wings into perhaps darker or broader sounds. It is the small-scale promoter, and in turn their events, that continue to offer the best opportunity for exposure of new unknown experiences as they continue to cultivate their identity and grow.
Given the opportunity to attend festivals like Electric Fairy Tale, I would heartily recommend it. The opportunity to experience new talent as they grow, help promoters introduce new concepts, and see your idols in a more intimate festival atmosphere at a lower bottom line – well when these things combine they offer a unique look into the dance music industry as well as the music you love. This is another reason other events like CRSSD Fest, which caters to a different crowd and lineup compared to many festivals out there, are so important to the American market. It is one reason this author was so excited for One Tribe Festival, before it was unfortunately cancelled.
Ultimately it is up to us, the attendees, to make choices of the various festivals and music events, and lead the market towards successful and stupendous memories. We are the audience, the ones who showcase of love and passion for artist or a DJ, and ultimately their success is our success. It is the joy of experimentation, of sonic journeys, that continues to offer us new opportunities and new experiences. Long live the small festival, long live the steadfast up-and-coming promoter.