Brazilian festivals, Lollapalooza and an angry rocker

When I was living in London, attending one or more music festivals was one of the main things to look forward to in the summer. I went to quite a few over the last decade: Glastonbury, T in the Park, Oxegen, Rock Werchter, Reading, Get Loaded in the Park and other festivals with specific musical genres such as Glade.

At these festivals, I have never noticed a particular effort to favour international headlining attractions over their local counterparts, or the other way round. It was always a mix of fresh and classic acts to please all musical tastes and ages.

The Brazilian festival scene was pretty much inexistent at the time I moved to London a decade ago. But things have moved on: while I was away, Rock in Rio was resurrected and other multi-day festivals came about such as Planeta Terra and SWU. The international festival brands are also following suit, the latest being Lollapalooza, which announced its festival line-up in Brazil on Monday (21st Nov).

While Lolla’s line-up was well-received by the fans of Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys and other foreign acts that rarely ever come to Brazil, it was heavily criticised by those with the view that Brazilian bands are not well represented.

Lobão, an old-time Brazilian rocker, put up a manifesto on You Tube on the same day, in which he claims to have been invited to play at Perry Farrell’s festival and refused it when he heard he would have an early afternoon slot.

The public complaint was accompanied by a plea to other Brazilian artists to refuse playing at large music events as a way of protesting against festival organisers – the musician claims festivals reserve better stage times for foreign bands.

Responding to Lobão’s critics, Farrell suggested that Lobão should produce “a popular record that everyone loves” in order to get a headlining slot. He added that Brazil does not have a great deal of musical education and that he hopes that his festival will help bring a culture of international gigs to Brazil.

According to MdC Suingue, co-presenter of offbeat Brazilian music podcast Caipirinha Appreciation Society, festival organisers in Brazil still need to get the balance right between local and foreign acts.

“Somehow European festival curators manage to do that mixing and matching without relegating bands from the host country to the worst stages and time slots,” MdC said.

“But their counterparts in Brazil keep getting that wrong. They hold to the old capitalist principle of “surplus value”: if one band won’t accept working conditions, somebody else will. The event is worse off, the public is worse off, even the headliners are worse off, since they end up playing in a festival that could have a much nicer, more inspiring vibe.”

The running times for the Brazilian edition of Lollapalooza have not been made public yet. However, in the last edition of the Rock in Rio and SWU festivals, all the headlining acts that had the later slots were non-Brazilian.

Is Lobão right in calling for class action or is he just throwing the toys out of his pram? Do festival organisers need to prioritise local bands or the attractions that people don’t get to see very often?

Image: Line up of the third day of the SWU festival earlier this month by marina_coelho licensed under Creative Commons

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