One of the big stories doing the rounds last week concerned the cancellation of Groundswell Festival, which had been due to take place in the French surfing town of Hossegor last weekend. When the main investor pulled out at the last minute, the festival was cancelled. The festival organisers had expected 15,000 festival goers to pass through their gates but with only 4,000 tickets sold it meant the festival joined over 30 British festivals that also fell by the wayside this summer. That caused a pretty huge stir throughout the industry, and left a lot of punters and artists who’d travelled a long way to the festival pretty frustrated.
These words come straight from the press release issued by event organisers, Allez – Oop: “Without the support of our investor the financial damage to all the suppliers working on Groundswell would have been much greater after the event than if we stopped now.” Read the whole press release here.
And that would have been that, another familiar story of festival disappointment, if it hadn’t been for the efforts of a small bunch of guys from the Hossegor area, and a handful of artists from the Groundswell line-up. This crew got together to put on a show that meant those 4,000-odd suddenly ticketless festival goers didn’t travel all the way for nothing.
Donavon Frankenreiter, Ben Howard, Mat McHugh and Rich Thomas were four of the artists who stayed to entertain the crowd at the newly named ‘For The Love’ festival which took place in the Salles de Bourdaines, a large hall near to a bar called Le Surfing. Woodie Bouma runs Le Surfing and we had a chat with Woodie who co-organised ‘For The Love’ to try and re-coup some of the money local businesses and the artists had lost: “It was really one of those ‘one drop sent the ripples sailing’ kind of things…there was so much positive energy from people to make this happen…it’s amazing!”
Ben Howard, one of the artists, has become an integral part of the surf scene in the last couple of years, thanks largely to his track, Cloud 9, which was the title track in Kelly Slater’s film of the same name. Ben’s manager and close friend Owain Davies helped Woodie put the festival together and he took a minute out to tell us about his hectic week.
“Everything started to fall together after a lot of hard work, and with Woodie and his army it was always going to happen. We had 1400 people come through the doors, and while I was busy organising everything, Ben had the best surf he’s ever had in France.”
As mentioned before, the Groundswell festival hasn’t been the only festival casualty of the summer, with over 30 British festivals also having the plug pulled on them. It’s believed the reason behind the decline in the festival scene is down to an over-saturation of the market, meaning that people just simply have too many to choose from. With smaller festivals not managing to sell their minimum quota of tickets they’re forced into cancelling the show. It’s not only smaller festivals feeling the pinch either. Bigger festivals are opening their doors, but to smaller crowds than in previous years. Read this Guardian story to get a bigger picture of the state of the British festival industry.
After chatting with a few of the locals, it sounds as though for once this familiar bad-taste-in-mouth festival cancellation story had a happy ending, with ‘For The Love’ going down swimmingly with all those die-hard surf music fans who hung around for the weekend. When we first heard about the impromptu gig being put on in place of the festival, we pictured a small venue, possibly even a bar. So, when we got the pictures through from the festival we were blown away by what a good effort the lads down in Hossegor made to go ahead with this festival and for this we truly doff our caps to them.
Groundswell’s mission statement was to put on a festival that would “celebrate the very essence of surf lifestlye”. For whatever reason, they didn’t manage to pull this off. So there’s something a little heartwarming about the fact that a last-minute crew, fired by that very surfing culture the original festival sought to celebrate, did manage to pull something like this off.
Cheers to Tom Greenhill for the images.