Hello from the USA to Per and everyone.
My company has been honored to be asked on board as Retroheads world-wide management and legal representatives and also as assistants to Magic Pie for their dealings on this side of the pond. We have agreed to both band's offers with an instant and emphatic YES, as we have known both bands since their beginnings. The musicians and families of both bands are friends first and have changed our lives for the better . . . that is an understatement.
We were at the festival this past weekend and cannot say enough good things about all the artists participating and their incredible talent level that cannot be equaled. Although the venue is not completed, we can see the enormous potential throughout the site and surrounding area.
On a personal note, I'm not sure how I got through introducing Retroheads without breaking down. That was an honor I didn't expect and I will always remember that experience. I also want to thank all the people of Norway for simply being themselves and sharing the most amazing land where I've ever been a guest. A piece of my heart remains in Norway and I shall return many times to visit the most incredibly gracious country on earth.
I wish Subtacto to continue and independent music in Norway achieve great success, so here is what I hope can be taken as constructive criticism regarding the festival itself. Unlike one of my client's postings on a different thread, I will not rant and rave (if it matters, I knew he was writing and I had no intention of asking him to tone down anything). Also, please understand that I've limited insight as to what went on behind the scenes before I arrived in Norway two days before the event.
As part of a highly experienced on-site view of things, Per my friend, you need some help getting this done. By help, I mean having people in who have done this before ; asking for advice ; lining up whatever sponsors could possibly be brought in for underwriting . . . and other things of that nature. When running a festival, or even a multi-band 1-day concert, there are so many things that need to be addressed as "#1 priority" you can't get a handle on any of it without great organization and letting people who know what they're doing run the show. Your job should have been as facilitator during run-up and also to meet-and-greet the patrons and bands throughout the day of the event and introduce the bands on stage to the audience.
I'm offering some help here and now. Starting today if you'll have me, whatever I can do from 7,600 kilometers distant it would be a pleasure to do so.
On an operational level, many things were flawed from the start. Mainly, there was seemingly nobody in place as production manager and also no stage manager/lead person. The bands were basically left to fend for themselves on arrival. That is not right at best, and as happened, resulted in some misplaced gear, loss of timing for the schedule, bands getting their on-stage times cut and other major flaws.
On our arrival early Saturday morning for Retroheads soundcheck, the backstage area was empty . . . literally. Not a place to sit, nothing for the artists to use for even simple things like hanging a jacket. Empty. The bathrooms weren't even ready. We realize the venue wasn't completed (we were told it would be, by the way), but something should have been in place. So after their soundcheck, Retroheads members went into Oslo to their studio and brought back sofas, along with other items to make the place a home for the day for all artists playing the festival. Someone else went to get a coffee maker.
It's the little things that affect an audience experience at a concert. Seating for one . . . the few chairs that were at the venue were carried out to the main area by the patrons themselves. That is absolutely uncalled for. It doesn't take much to have a few hundred chairs from a rental house in place. General admission/pick your own seat on arrival is fine for Subtacto purposes.
Vendors . . . where were they? It was fantastic to meet the gents from Gargamel (what a great debut album), but other than them, that was it. I'm sure some of the bands were out there with their merch, but there wasn't much time to check into that.
Venue management . . . would have been nice to have someone there from the venue staff in case things were needed.
I'm sure you heard by now that 'some crazy American' was backstage going off the deep end after Magic Pie was yanked off during their next-to-last song. Let me state here and now that the over-the-top nutjob was me and in all honesty Per, if you were back there at that moment, the way I was unfortunately conducting myself, I'd still be in Norway . . . in a prison cell. I have never acted that way before to people in the business and after I calmed down, I was honestly ashamed at myself.
However, having Magic Pie taken off stage with a packed house and at the peak of their set was the single most unprofessional event I've ever witnessed in this business and I've been in for over 32 years. This entire mess could have and should have been avoided. Magic Pie had two minutes of the current song left and only one more full song to go . . . their big track . . . a total of 22/23 minutes tops and they'd be done . . . with a huge lead-in build-up to a Norwegian legend in Høst. The lag time could have been made up easily during changeover to Høst. If there was proper logistical handling of the day from minute one, none of this would ever have happened anyway.
It seemingly all comes down to money, doesn't it? That's a huge part, no doubt. However, if you don't have the right people on board to make things go, you can have all the money needed and not be able to get out from under your own feet.
There's more, but I've gone on long enough for a first post on the forum.
Kenneth L Solomon
Swiss Navy Productions
Artist Management & Representation