So, we did a festival.
A three day music festival in Leeds, with big and small bands from all over the UK and into Europe and USA / Canada. We spent just short of a year organising it, promoting it, working to make sure everyone we could possibly find into these bands and this music would know about it. It happened last week (May 2/3/4), and despite all the incredible support, the amazing effort that the rest of the team made, the encouragement and generally huge responses to what we were doing and our line up, and whilst we had a very good turn out, it drastically undersold and that now leaves us in masses of debt. A 5 figure debt that is crippling us now.
We didn't go into this with any massive backing, no corporate sponsorship, basically we're just a bunch of mates who are all organised enough to give something like this a go. We've all promoted gigs / all dayers / played in bands for a lot of years, and wanted to have a go at something a bit special. To combine the spirit of a 'bigger' festival with the underground DIY ethics that we've all lived by for many years. Unfortunately it seems that it's not entirely possible, as bigger bands bring about bigger outlays, bigger settings bring about bigger hire costs, and the need for more people brings about bigger costs in promoting it everywhere.
It was an insane weekend, people travelled from all over the UK and a few from outside the UK to witness some of the biggest names of the underground / extreme metal scene like Napalm Death, Anaal Nathrakh, Onslaught, Massacre, Lock Up, Pentagram Chile, Birdflesh, Wodensthrone, Desecration and many more assembling in Leeds, joining some of the other most choice 'smaller' bands we could get. We wanted to give them a chance to play with some of their heroes.
We pushed it as much as we possibly could. Almost 20,000 flyers went out all over the UK to hand, the poster for the event went around the world and back again many a time over with friends, fans and the bands sharing it constantly. We had features / interviews in magazines including Terrorizer, as well as being included in a Top 10 Festivals of the year list, up there with the genuine big boys like Download and Bloodstock. Not bad for just a bunch of mates from Leeds / the North who simply love music.
Unfortunately, this scene is also a cruel one at times. Sometimes the support / people saying they are coming in the run up doesn't always equate to ticket sales / people paying on the door, which was our main means of paying for everything. Some would say that's a daft idea when there's a lot of money at stake, but, anyone in the know of the DIY world knows that this is how it has to be.
We were about 200 people coming for the weekend short of covering all the costs (tickets were £65 on the door for 3 full days for 44 bands, almost 40 hours of music! The money that came in paid for things like all the big (and smaller / touring bands), the venue, PA, stage, lighting, backline hire, promo costs too, plus also vehicle hire of getting gear around, picking up bands, paying for hotels and band ryders. For those who don't know how it all works, there is a LOT to consider, and there is always something that comes up that you won't have thought of.
Thankfully our friends helped us out huge amounts over the course of the weekend, and we've had donations since via the website, plus we are selling off the remaining merchandise we have (shirts, posters, patches), but, despite efforts to sort out getting an official loan (via the bank, companies, other people) to clear the whole debt in one go, so that nobody is waiting around, we have been unsuccessful in getting a full amount, and so now, we go out on the street, our caps in hand, feeling soul destroyed but still proactive and trying to stay positive, and trying everything in our means to put right this shortfall for everyone else concerned.
We've no idea whether this will work, or how well it will go. I'll be honest, I feel a bit weird doing it this way, but I'm just hoping that the general metal loving community will be able to come good again. There are some incredible people involved in, firstly the Leeds music scene in general, but in the whole world scene, who support each other massively, literally picking people up when they fall. I personally feel proud to have been involved with it for 20 years, playing in many bands that have played all over Europe, putting on gigs, clubs, this festival for the 3rd time, promoting other bands and just generally shouting about everything that is appealing, and I know a lot of people who do. The sense of community involved is a uniquely special one, and our plan was to put something back in with this festival.
As it stands right now, we're not doing this to enable us to do another one, but I suppose you can never rule anything out. All the various people involved all still have their own projects, bands, promotions things, so hopefully it can restore a little faith in all our minds that the world is still wanting all of this sort of thing to happen.
One final bit, to the people who go to gigs and festivals. If you plan on going to something, please please please do your often overlooked promoter a favour and buy tickets in advance. This will help more than you may realise, and save many a heart attack for them in the run up to their event. Remember as well, every single share you make of an event to your friends is a huge help as well. It not only promotes the gig itself, but the bands playing it, helps people see that the area itself has a good scene going on, and helps the promoter who is just trying to spread the gig for all the same reasons.
We're not doing this to make pot fulls of money. We just wanted to give everyone an amazing time, which, from the post-fest feedback we know we did, and we thank every band and every person who came along. It's just a shame that we relied on more people coming along, and it felt like a realistic amount we were hoping for as well, but, you can never tell in advance.
IF we get to our goal via this site, then there are a number of local music charities and not-for-profit concerns that we would like to support, that all give up their time in the community to help people learn, and be inspired by, music of all kinds, so, IF this goes well, then not only will you be helping us get over the crushing life-altering losses that giving this a go has caused, you will also be helping a lot of other great groups of people too.
If you've ever been to a gig, or a festival, or been a promoter, or played in bands, then I hope all of this is something you understand. We're a humble bunch of people, as everyone who knows us will vouche, but we do feel proud to have been able to bring an event like this to people, unfortunately, those losses have soured things for us considerably, and we would just like to get this put behind us as quickly as possible.
If you also want to check out the merch we are selling, the last few things are here: www.kinhellfest.bigcartel.com
and we also put together a six hour long compilation of 83 underground bands here, please donate something for that too if you're interested in hearing some of the bands we've been trying to promote over the last few years: www.kinhellfest.bandcamp.com
Thank you for any support, even if you can't afford to donate anything, even just sharing this on your various pages is a great thing.
Cheers, Paul / 'kin Hell Fest team www.kinhellfest.co.uk
(Here's the full flyer for the line up we made happen, cheers to Steve Myles for the artwork, and to Em Coulter for the photos in the collage at the top, plus a million thanks to everyone who was part of our dream / the team / who came along)...