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Some good points PP like I said somewhere else I miss the intimacy of the River Stage.
I was pleased to note that some acts on the R3 stage asked people to stand up/dance. This created much more space at the front, allowing more Womaders to filter to the front from the back. Womad folk are so respectful that they won't stand for fear of blocking others view but actually, standing is the socially conscious way forward.
not if you're 5ft 2 because when people are sitting it is possible to see the stage when people stand there is no chance of seeing anything at all
Yours, with neck-ache
I really enjoyed it overall, but a few gripes, cheifly with the sound systems. The open air stage, the Siam tent and particularly the Red tent had far too much bottom end - probably the Subs not being lined up with the rest of the system. For bass-heavy acts this meant it was physically painful even halfway back, and for acts with no bass instrument but a resonant drum for example, the boom of the drum obliterated the harmony of the music. Overall the volume was too high and the sound was harsh and screechy at times - are the PA guys going deaf by any chance? I'm not the only one to complain about this - http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/31/womad-charlton-park-wiltshire?intcmp=239
Here's an idea: have the PA quieter so you're not killing the front half of the audience, and have some delayed speakers behind the desk so the people at the back can hear it. This works great on the larger stages at Glastonbury for example.
Musically, why was there _so_ much reggae? I like Jamaican music as much as anyone but Friday particularly was jam-packed with frankly second-rate reggae/dub groups. It's easy, obvious, familiar festival chill-out fodder - precisely what Womad isn't about!
I thought 2011 was amazing from start to finish, and even better than last year. I struggled to find time to eat and drink in between all the acts I wanted to see.
I have a few small criticisms. There weren't enough toilets. The folding chair set got on my nerves when they set up camps way too close to the stages. The talking by members of the audience during some sets was seriously annoying. Families with their children in wheelbarrows pushing through the crowds (what are they on?). Not enough space around the Gillet stage.
Only minor issues. Everything else superb this year. A good balance of sounds with excellent headliners.
Friday was jam packed with reggae dub/bands? damn! I missed all of that!
I did however see the amazing Jazz Jamaica, Alpha Blondy and the last bit of UK stalwarts Mungo's hi-fi on Friday. I missed The Communicaters because Jazz Jamaica were too good. That's FOUR reggae acts out of TWENTY SEVEN slots on Friday.
So why wasn't the rest of the reggae/dub advertised in the programme? even the "second-rate" stuff?
A ban on helium filled novelty balloons would be a good thing. Especially when tied on to push chairs and allowed to block the view of anybody unfortunate to be behind them.
This is directed specifically to the owners of the big smiley sunflower at the R3 stage on Sunday night.
Apologies for such a long post; I hope it isn't too wordy. I know that long posts full of lots of paragraphs can be a bit off-putting, so I hope that organising my comments into sections / topics makes the post a bit more accessible.
Overall, it was too heavy-handed. Some of the thuglets were too cocky and aggressive and need better training. I much preferred the more low-key security arrangements of previous years, and don't want to fork out the best part of a thousand pounds for tickets to have adult and teenage members of my party sworn at and harrassed by short-haired louts who ought to join the police force or do some sort of military service if they want to go around harrassing people.
I also thought the presence of uniformed police, complete with a set of sniffer dogs, was a bit too heavy-handed for WOMAD. I'd like to see a return to the more relaxed, softly softly security arrangements that have been in place in recent years.
We don't need no barriers. Those unfortunate enough to be beside a gate frequently have their enjoyment interrupted by various people (site staff, luvvies, etc) going in and out. Also, the special people who spend the show swanning about on the stage side of the barrier, smoking and drinking and chattering and photographing the audience are a distraction. Perhaps these people would be better accomodated by being put in front of a small screen in a van at the back the stage so they could see the show without getting in the way of those who have actually paid for it to be put on and have paid to attend.
I agree with other comments about the Saddleback stage. It's in the wrong place and it would be better sited if the stage itself were moved back a few hundred feet and the sound desk occupied the space where the stage is loacted.
The festival and the festival-goers need to accomodate the various types of people, and their preferences for standing, sitting on the floor or sitting in camping chairs.
Perhaps some experimentation in zoning at one or two of the stages for next year would be a good way to work out how to best meet the needs of the various audience members? An area near the stage could be reserved for people under a certain age/height so that youngsters and shorties can see the performers. Another area near the front might be designated for those who want to watch the performance while seated (remember, these people may have paid a lot of money and driven a long way to bring their camping chairs and picnic hampers all the way to a field in Wiltshire!). Also, given the number of people who appear to want to make their way into a tent in order to be able to chat throughout a performance, perhaps an area behind the sound desk could be cordoned off and given over to use by the chattering classes. (I had a pair of Tim and Sebastian types position themselves just behind me soon after Gabriella y Rodriguez started their set, and then yap and bray until I asked them to shut up.
Timing of performances
This needs some work. It's not good for either of the two audiences (or the performers) to have performances overlap at adjacent stages. For example, Booker T. Jones was scheduled to finish at the same time as Gogol Bordello were due to start. This arrangement wouldn't allow the Booker T. Jones audience sufficient time to move from one space to another, even though the stages were adjacent. A half hour between perfomances would allow audiences to relocate as required, with possibly even enough time to pop into a poorly signposted pissoir on the way. Some communication between stage managers would also help smooth the seque between performances. In the example already cited, Gogol Bordello started playing before Booker T. Jones had finished. Had there been some time between acts, there might even have been time for a short encore before the audience picked up their chairs and blankets and dragged them across to the open air stage.
People complaining about the sound mix should be aware that there will be some "sweet spots" where a better separation of instruments will be heard than in other areas. Given that the mix is controlled from the desk, the space around the middle front of the desk should be a good place to position yourselves. The acoustic space will create different areas, so the balance will vary, and you won't get the best overall listening experience if you plonk yourselves ten feet away from a bass cabinet.
There were too few showers. It's already been suggested that the cubicles might supplement the communal showers next year to accomodate both those who want to keep their bits tucked away and those who just want to soap them up and rinse them off as quickly as possible.
Toilets were generallly good this year. However, more pissoirs would reduce queuing by allowing those who want or need a box to get into one more quickly. If one or two pissoir clusters were included in each toilet area, it would help speed things up. The pissoirs in the toilets in the arena could have been better signposted.
There was toilet paper in a lot of the toilets on Monday morning, but the hand-cleanser dispensers ran out too soon. These should be topped-up late on Sunday night or early Monday morning to ensure the needs are met of those who pack up on Monday.
The taps were turned off on Monday afternoon while members of my party were filling bottles to drink in the car on they home. Some people in the family camping area still had their tents up at this point. The taps will need to be turned off at some point, but given the time of year and the nature of the event, perhaps this point should be after the site has been cleared and closed.
Quite a few people seem to havbe developed a habit of running lengths of plastic tape or string around clusters of tents and gazebos, creating their own little enclosed community. While it would be nice to provide these people with their own camping area, perhaps with pre-marked pitches, the effect of running lengths of tape or string aruond the Family Camping area is to create a trip hazard. Someone else commented that a lot of these "tapers" were in fact Spa workers. If they want to be segregated, a few pieces of metal fencing around the Spa would create a separate space for them, in much the same way as other site workers have their own designated areas behind fences.
There were too many stalls offering similar merchandise. Some more diversity would make this area more interesting and less like an outpost of Camden Lock. Could some of the more exotic acts be brought over in a "package" with a couple of catering set-ups and a couple of retail groups? It would be nice to have a stall selling merchandise from the artic circle as well as being able to sample some typical Sakha Republic cuisine after listening to Ayarkhaan.
Overall, things seemed to be a bit more expensive this year than in the past. I can't remember how much I had to pay for a pint last year, but it seemed like I was paying West End prices for a pint this year. Also, food seemed to be more expensive. My recollection from previous WOMADs is that a meal typically cost between £4.50 - £6.00. This year, there were some £7.00 and £8.00 meals. I wonder if this is because the cost of a traders' licence has increased, or if it's because the traders are trying to squeeze a bit more out of the punters? Also, as WOMAD is a family festival, it would be nice if some of the food outlets could be encouraged to offer some smaller, lower-priced, child portions.
And yes less of the Thuglets please.
I had a wonderful time at Womad, the weather was perfect, and the music fantastic. We camped in the Family camping area in the Meadow, our favourite spot, but were unlucky enough to be surrounded by two or three groups of the aforementioned teens, and by families with very young children. It meant that the quiet time in the night was reduced to about half an hour between the teens returning to tents, and the babies/children waking with the sun, no doubt thrilled to have Mum and Dad in the same tent! So many children - maybe because Womad was def. in the Summer holiday period? I understand why they get into Womad free, but I was a bit miffed queueing half an hour for the La di Dah loos, to find that children were also allowed in free there as well. The lady in front of me had brought seven - yes - seven children, and I must admit I was a bit hacked off. She smilingly mentioned how they loved playing with the lotions and potions while they waited... The teens (sorry to use as a derogatory term) were quieter than last year apart from a couple of groups, but I don't know how groups of under 18's get to camp with no supervising adults - there was a sea of cans around their huddles, and they were not coca cola cans.... I would really like an Old Gits camping area - I would pay extra!
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