Big Music Fest: Bobcaygeon

Yeah, I posted the song. Happy? Now that that cliche’s out of the way, let’s move on.

Just got in from Bobcaygeon, where they hosted the Big Music Fest in the middle of a farmer’s field yesterday. Short bill; just Miss Emily, Sam Roberts, The Trews ,and The Tragically Hip, but everyone played long sets to make up for it.

Quick reviews: The Trews are professionals in every sense of the word. They sounded so true to their studio recordings it was almost bizarre. Every time I see them, that’s the thing I’m left with more than anything else: they really are one of the most well-rehearsed bands one can see these days. Sam Roberts were excellent, but of course, the true standouts of the night were The Hip. Incredible live act; definitely a band where almost every time they lit into a new song, a member of the crowd right around me went, “This is my FAVORITE! SONG! EVER!”

Seriously. Every song was someone’s FAVORITE! SONG! EVER! Canadian music fans watching Canadian bands in a field at the south end of cottage country. The only thing that could make this event more Maple-Leaf-y would be if it was on Canada Day.

The one complaint I’ve got is that the farmer’s field outside of Bobcaygeon just felt woefully unprepared for the 24,000 (rough estimate) people attending yesterday. Huge lineups, a lot of confusion about parking, shuttles and routes into and out of the town created a frustrated, tense atmosphere for most of the afternoon. The lineup to get into the beer garden stretched for 2.5 hours; long lines are often a part of festival shows, but standing in mud for that long, sometimes standing still for 20, 30 minutes at a stretch, almost got dangerous. People were heckling those in the line from inside the tent, and security did nothing to stop anyone from cutting in line and rushing the entrance to bypass the rest of us law-abiding schmoes.

It really might not seem like a big deal, but little organizational tics like the 30 people serving drinks to the 24,000 (still, a rough estimate) fans, the gouging concession prices and the 15-minute hike through the woods to and from the car make this festival one that feels thrown-together, disorganized and unprofessional–as though it was put together by the Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Players of event planning. The Hip were amazing, but I think the rest of this concert could be improved upon.

That being said, on the way out of the venue, walking through the fields with a group of other exhausted music fans, there were more fireflies than I’ve ever seen before, just flying and blinking and it was just beautiful; for all the little issues I’ve got with the concert, I think the site is just perfect for a show like that. Canadiana, baby.

www.bigmusicfest.com/bobcaygeon/tickets

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5 thoughts on “Big Music Fest: Bobcaygeon

  1. I was at the show with a large group of friends. To say the promoters were unprepared is an understatement. It was chaos, and our group was thoroughly disappointed in the concessions (food and drink). Completely understaffed, and plain lunacy in the lines for beer.

    The bands were fantastic, but we headed out early, as we expected the wait for the buses back to Ferguson Farm would be crazy. I heard on the radio driving home today that the place didn’t clear out until gone 3 AM.

    Huge thank you to the staffer that was managing the line-up for Ferguson Farms, as we were first in line and about 100 people dashed in front of us when the bus door opened. She lead the people that had been waiting patiently right to the bus, pushing through those that had jumped the line, and go us on the bus.

    My take on this show is that it had a lot of potential, but logistics failures detracted from the bands and their music. Thumbs down.

  2. I totally agree; it’s a great idea to have a concert like that in a location like that, but if you’re going to have world-class bands like Sam Roberts and The Tragically Hip, you need to staff it like a world-class event as well.

  3. I was totally put off by all the confusion of the venue last night. Our group was so stoked to see the HIP play in Bobcaygeon but with all the “work” we had to put into enjoying our evening, it was kind of off putting! We lined up forever just to get a VIP wrist band which they ran out of. Once we got them and were allowed thru the gates we started walking down toward stage …..but couldn’t really see the difference of having a VIP ticket as we were lead into the General area. Once we clued in and went off to the left of the stage – Security wouldn’t let us thru the gates to the actual VIP section – even after we flashed our shiney crimson wrist bands. WHAT??? the VIP section is filled to capacity with hundreds of us still standing outside the gates waiting to get what we paid for??? How did that work? After waiting in this line for a while we finally got thru. The cordened off area had fewer line ups for the toilets (which were set up in such a way as to block the view of the stage and screen), but the ticket booths were so crowded just wasn’t worth buying anything. This so called VIP section was pretty far from the stage as well – we ended up watching the show thru the wire fences…. it basically was not the special evening I was looking for….. not as The Kee in Bala, The Music hall on Danforth, Massey Hall, the Phoenix, or the Old Forum at Ontario Place over 20 years ago…. I was really hoping this event would rank right up there with those shows but was way off the mark.
    The Good Points: driving back early before the crowd let out (although I was dragged out by the group in hindsight it was a good thing), our friend coming at the last minute and getting in, the forgotten mickey in the so-called checked back pack, Our DD. the company & the HIP of course!!!!

  4. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t at the concert as I was working the shuttle bus line at Ferguson Farms. I have to say everyone was so patient and polite. Standing in the same spot for hours on end is tiring but the people in line made it quite enjoyable!
    We parked close to 1000 cars and loaded over 3000 people on to buses and there was never a real issue, people waited their turn happily, even doing the wave at one point to pass the time.
    Of course we heard of the disaster at the end of the night at the venue as everyone made their way back to the farm.
    I’m glad we stayed open to sell water and snacks to the weary walkers!

  5. It looked to me like the advertising for the shuttles worked a little better then the organizers had intended . I drove right to the site after 5pm fully expecting to have to turn around back to town and catch a shuttle. Much to my surprise the closest offsite parking was less then half full! waited in shuttle line for 5 mins, after 5 full buses passed by heckling us we decided to just hoof it, and got the last laff as we walked right by most of of these tools while they were waiting for the traffic to clear … no offence to any of you kind folks who were in the shuttles ;).

    Beer lines were enough to make me go sober (highly unusual for me). If I had known the bag check would be that lax i would have brought in a mickey or 6, EVERY group around us had brought in liquor (and were not talking the discreet hip flask mickeys either. guy beside me had a 26 of baileys!)

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