rob posted by rob 21 Jan 2018  


Aquarius Rising, production notes

the Aquarius Project
Aquarius Music and Arts Festival
Aquarius Dawning

When Daniel Lynch first mentioned the name, "Aquarius Music and Arts Festival", I included the lyrics of the Hair track, age of Aquarius, in a text to thearmed909 who is a bit of an astrology buff and she looked it up and it turned out Jupiter was actually aligned with Mars to within an hour of the text, happens every couple of hundred years or so, rare conjunction

“When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius

she said, "Jupiter did just align with Mars", I had no idea, obviously

A synchronicity indeed. Not that that means anything other than I like the name, but all is up for changing I don’t know if we really know what we’re doing here

so far…
The professional questions are;

can you send me a brief of the following:
Licensable hours
Duration from set up to pack down
Style of music and demographic
Do you need dry hire only or up for venues taking on food for example .

Do you need our advice / consultancy / production or bar services or are we purely finding you a venue ? It’s a little unclear but all is possible !
….Courtesy of Wonky Dog

And from Mike Bimble (just to have the whole lot in one place first)

Hi Rob, can you email me ( ) details of your plans, dates, what capacity, who’s involved, what marketing etc and we can look at if its something we can be involved with. I’ll be honest, the bimble dosen’t usually do any new festivals these days, had too many issues in the past! But I’m not far from sparkford so could maybe pop over to see the site and give advice even if it doesn’t work for the bimble to be there. x

So the one is your venue and the other is the kind of questions a professional rig wants to know, more or less the same but Mike will want reassurance about marketing plus for him to actually go for it it would have to be the right people doing the right thing with all financial and ecological sustainability factors taken into account, the wonky’s wanna know what site we want, but the questions are similar

I would answer wonky’s last question first
YES! Do you need our advice / consultancy / production or bar services? YES!! I would say, wonky involvement was a big excitement about the idea of getting sparkford and in general we need as much production input as possible because we’re on a wing of a prayer of a vague idea (I realised after reading those questions)

The rest is guess but I want 24 hour stages and that’s probably impossible licensewise, except Larry’s unamplified acoustic piano

We roughed a guess to Mike’s initial capacity question, guess at
2,000 acceptable, 1,000 surviving but embarrassed, a dream of 10 or 20,000

- I pulled the 2,000 figure out of the air as the size of rave the police officially need court order, something for, shut down , can’t remember, something to do with the old free party scene where they can’t shut you down if you get 2,000 in quick so it just seemed like a number, spiral tribe story about the Canary Wharf rave

Boomtown is 60,000 capacity, Glastonbury hovers around 200,000 I reckon they might get 2,000 people at Smallworld

Duration, Daniel was saying Friday Saturday and I was saying Friday Saturday Sunday crew party Monday, me I’m in Tuesday and out on Tuesday in most cases where I’m build crew and festival crew, a higher production build would start Saturday before, for me

None of this is definite this is just my fling it down, where the talks got so far email, I’m not actually organising this, or maybe I am - see the story below…

Style of music and demographic,
well I’m guessing Danny’s gonna want two maybe three house arena’s/tents, I like a bit of garage and jungle personally, if Nikita and patchwork get involved that’s hardcore techno and drum n bass squat party rave style… that’s the EDM, demographic freeparty crew ideally but they might have all moved to Europe …. Danny’s probably got I would say a hip 20 something crowd, I’d like to do something that was welcome young and old posh or poor all sorts I’m not niche on demographic, anti actually, but cool sound and secure people will depend on Mike Bimble’s marketing question largely, it’s not just how many people you get its which people you get

- so music live side, two main players expressed an interest so far is Stan, boss of Larry’s lounge and the Bad Apple Bar at Boomtown, and Haley Squires recent promotor of the Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park before it was shut down and running a stage at Freekwency festival hot on the wire tv and loads of stuff

- musically Hayley can bring the best underground (cheap) punk n ska rock n reggae and a fair bit of jungle herself and would be, I suggest, our main booker of bands

- Stan would bring his usual piano bar rig I imagine though may want to input more, guessing at 2 or 3 live stages, maybe more
Modular expandable would be nice… see story below

I suppose I would be the live side and Daniel the EDM side in a way looking at what gigs we actually do, hence the Friday Saturday dance timing idea compared to my week long hippy take your time in a field feel

- we gonna be looking at something inbetween those two ideas in general I reckon
- the hip club night, the hippy folk night, thats Daniel and me
Promotion I’m not that big on personally, in hiding in general shy and dislike promotion so… if its to happen thats a big big question I can’t say much about but Hayley and Stan can, for a start, as can Daniel I imagine
So, that’s my best answers so far to the professional questions, which is to say we are not that sure yet, really
Ok,so, I wanted to tell the story so far, spent the first half of the day today writing the story first, it’s the way I think, but email ate the whole text disappeared so I started again but its good to go for the professional questions first, I am not an organiser, I am not that organised, Daniel is the boss on this but I’m typing my flying thoughts on this on request

I have actually organised some big things but not for over a decade really since getting my crew beaten up by the national front in Sedgefield trying to get rid of Tony Blair in 2005

Since then I have been helping other people’s productions pretty much, for want of anything else to do I suppose

I used to run very fly by night genuinely wonky mainly illegal raves and regularly put 2,000 people or so in a building with no security and pulled it off till that one, too political, I’m not on a political now I think pure joy in the party is the most revolutionary thing you can do, I wish Theresa and Jeremy the best of luck but I don’t want it to be a political thing

- but yeah, when it was working “the good vibration is the best protection” was always my crew motto regarding security and it works, the flyers were always “live and dj” because as a musician in bands I was always a bit in competition with these bloody superstar DJs that dominated the 90’s and I like to put the things next to each other so the rockers catch some rave music and the beats people get to listen to some musicians
So, “the story starts” getting to the story so far…

Boomtown 2017 and Daniel’s trying to buy a crew wristband off me to get into the secret Larry’s Lounge in crew camping, was it the Bear Pit? The stage? Waiting for The Specials?

Maybe, anyway he asks what I think of the festival as a whole and I reply they have all the production but not the party, Daniel immediately responds that he could do better and we get into talking about it….

So that’s the first manifesto point, quote,

“Better than boomtown”

That’s what Daniel said, he could do a better party than boomtown, and if its true its worth doing hahaha, so I must have laughed at the time and told him the story about the Palace stage coming in £250,000 over budget…

the year Sunbird died and sunrise festival was in the top field where Whistler's Green is now, 2015, I didn’t know the festival was inside boomtown but was talking about Sunbird’s passing with a Lady I thought was a random turned out to be the head of lights and rigging ultimate backstage wristbands like better than “crew” took me all the way backstage to her cables stores, turned out she was a close friend of Sunbird’s and while driving me up to The Sunrise Festival (Sunbird’s festival) located where whistlers green is now she told me the story about the Palace Stage coming in £250,000 over budget among other palarvas

So boomtown production costs are way over house prices if one stage can come in £250,000 over budget, I said to her, I’d give you hot air balloons disguised as flying saucers and alien abductions for that kind of money, and more, what did you get? A big pile of tv screens?

Loads of production but a bit thin on ideas already boomtown was getting by then

Then I would’ve talked about free party stuff, self organising, anarcho-syndicalist, autonomous areas that can do what they want the way they want, it can actually be brought together for free though I’m not so sure of that in a cash nexus commercial project, but I started fleshing out ways you build production concepts and bring in crews without having to risk your hat…

I don’t like gigs where there’s too much to lose but if you really got the organisation and commitment to cover it and do it all right all the way to the end there is money to be made

So I would’ve mentioned Hayley Squires among high energy promoters who run good shows and good crews and are capable of bringing larger things together and Daniel was keen to arrange a meeting

So what I’ve said I’ll do for this festival up until then is introduce some people who might be interested to Daniel and I wasn’t contemplating on actually organising it
It was a boomtown random conversation, an exchange of telephone numbers, a few texts on the idea and eventually the Hayley Squires meeting came up just at the same time as the Sparkford Hall venue came up and it nearly looked like it was all going to self organise and I’m glad I’ve done this email because it was nearly dead in my head while I was procrastinating on it

Was it January 5th? There was a genuine wave of excitement for that, Sparkford Hall just sounded great, everyone was keen to go out for that meeting and I felt fairly sure that if I could get Hayley Squires and Stan Larry’s Lounge to stand on that spot with Daniel ready to pay the £10,000 to say it’s on, and that covered gates and toilets and some basic lights, that’s major logistical hurdles immediately sorted and if the various festival and party organisers we had ready to go were to stand on that spot I’m fairly sure we all would’ve shook hands and said let’s do it

- now it’s a bit like I’m writing a proposal for a festival that I didn’t actually sign up for organising and am a bit worried I’ll end up with a project on my head I didn’t actually choose, its all a bit random for me, but here’s my tuppence worth just so I didn’t kill it dead in the water but for it to go to more than a proposal from here someone else has got to do it or say it or organise it

Patchwork sound system was interested in that visit, as was Paul Sees experienced festival rigger and poetry stage organiser, who else? Paul groover flower power stage was up for it, there’s more, I know Daniel had a few interested, the sound of Sparkford Hall was good, immediate excitement, all those people can still get involved

Turns out Sparkford is 500 capacity so it's not on the cards, Wonky Dog has other sites for us though which is what the first questions at the top of this email are about

I still like the idea of getting the main organisers to the site but I guess a trip to a field might not be the same so it might be all emails

Perhaps we could still do a meeting at Sparkford Hall with as many main players as possible and drive off for a campfire on the site, make a night of it? Spacegirl was like "can I come?" when I mentioned meeting at a mansion in Somerset called Sparkford Hall, attractive proposition

I know the shindig site was one of the ones on offer, felt a bit dry to me but I was missing small world for the booking and that’s definitely moist

- fluffy looked like he was running that one, shindig, and Fluffy is the best site manager I’ve seen..
.. would be great to get fluffy involved

Anyway, before it gets too long or I delete it I’m gonna hit send and go to sleep
07791498808 -

“The modern fool cannot tell the difference between production and content, hence the crap government and tv”

Sparkford Hall has such a nice ring to it, it’s like we were going somewhere posh, in Somerset, to do something important, that’s why we had all these people keen to find lifts and join in

- if it was that and it was £10,000 then we got the site we could just add ideas to it bring people in and build up a vibe free party style

The set of questions almost put me off altogether because if its like that, it’s ok, come up with a business proposal, it can’t be 1,000 or 20,000 so we then have to pick a target and put up that amount of rigs food and entertainment and if we misestimate anything people are up for losing grands and loads of work goes on a disapointment

I would’ve gone into the whole history of sunrise by now - where am I in this story? Waffling on, back in the bear pit when I first met Daniel… the synergy concept (NOT the organisation) of creating a whole bigger than the sum of the parts…. The idea of getting the rigs and systems that want to do parties to do the party they want to do, we always get paid for the job we don’t want to do and have to do the gig we love for free, we want to make money doing the right gig, ideally, for everybody, all artists rigs n crew

2,000 people times £50 is £100,000

Ideally autonomous areas make their own money and pay their own crew, total autonomy, but specialist drinks and food sellers can be taxed to pay for specialist music and arts stuff that has no direct financial input and is not what those people do (make money) so a mix of the commercial and arts and some understanding

Sunrise is a bit of a lesson though, the world peace festival it was called in maybe 2005? I was giving away flyers for it with that name on Sunbird gave me to hand out at Glastonbury that year still got one, the world peace festival, it was sunrise by the time we got to the actual event, that was all the crews north of the Glastonbury disused railroad track, the hippy sections leading up to the stone circle, that wanted to do Glastonbury properly, after having all come to the assessment that the festival had lost its way

- this one was similar in that me and Daniel came to the same opinion that boomtown had lost its way but we are not a set of organisations as that was, we are two fellers, and that set of organisations didn’t have a very easy time of it with all their experience

- still… the other issue is, secret garden has been kicking off where boomtown has not, even with all the right elements, quite been kicking it somehow,
so boomtown is by no means the only party in town and I’m mindful of the immortal beans on toast lyric

“the markets oversaturated in the last ten years”

so its worth seriously thinking about if we can do this, if Stan, Hayley or interested parties so far were to come with ideas that would push it on… because I think both me and Daniel lost a little bit of hope when the sparkford meeting was cancelled and I only just wrote this email thinking I dunno what I’m getting myself involved with really and I was up for linking things up but don’t want to take the organisation of this thing on my head so it depends what everybody’s saying whether we go forward