So, where do I even begin? The queuing system was abysmal. It took half an hour of queuing for me and my brother to get in, but I know from looking at social media feeds of fellow ticket holders that weren’t so lucky having up to an hour’s wait in queues just for the privilege of getting in. It felt unsafe, that was the one thing we kept thinking. In a festival that was called “family friendly” by the organisers it was too overcrowded, too oversold and too badly organised, and god did it show.
There were queues of up to an hour for bars and toilets, made worse by the fact that the vast majority of which was contained in the park square which had only a narrow space to enter and exit from. This was only compounded by the fact that whenever a band came on at the main stage there would be a surge of people trying to get through this narrow gap, and when it was over trying to get back to the bar and food stall area – and for most of the day there was no barrier to separate a way in and out, that only came later, possibly due to the fact that a large number of people were tweeting Merseyside Police saying they felt the festival was unsafe.
A contributing factor to this was the poor level of bag checks being done upon entry as people were getting in with crates of beer and glass bottles, showing that the queues resulted in everyone just being rushed through with little but a precursory glance at the bags contents. Not to mention the fact that they weren’t checking if you’d bought a one day only pass or a full weekend pass. If you wanted to you could just blag it and get in, they obviously didn’t care.
Hope and Glory would later throw one of the site developers under a bus blaming him for the layout problems and posting his email on a Facebook post rather than taking responsibility themselves. It was unclear who signed off on this meeting health and safety standards, but whoever it was should take accountability for it because it wasn’t safe.
Whose bright idea was it to put the main bar right by the entrance and the majority of the toilets in the park? Who decided not to signpost that there were urinals behind the toilets that could have relieved the queues for toilets? It’s one of many damning questions that need to be asked, and it’s the organisers that should be answering, not finger pointing and naming and shaming. Take responsibility and own the fact that you fucked up, don’t blame those who worked for you, that’s unprofessional and shame on you.
But what about the bands? Well, that was a shitshow of another variety. Because of how bad the queuing system most bands were delayed. As the whole event started 2 hours late it had a massive knock on effect on the schedule meaning that most bands/artists were roughly 45 minutes to an hour late because of how poorly this event was organised. The bands themselves weren’t shy of noting this on stage, and you could feel the frustration from the bands themselves for having set lists cut short and delayed. No updated stage times were revealed until around 7pm meaning that nobody knew what time their favourite bands were on contributing to the early queues. Let me reiterate this: there was no presence on social media, no comments to the press and absolutely no communication to the people who actually bought tickets until most of the way through the first day of the festival.
The worst example of this being Charlotte Church being pulled from the line up despite coming all the way from Cardiff to play. Church later put up an appeal on Twitter asking if anyone could host her she’d be willing to do a guerrilla gig in Liverpool, and ended up in EBJB doing a gig there with free entry for those with Hope and Glory wristbands.
The annoying thing is that when the bands could play there were some great performances from Badly Drawn Boy, Razorlight, The Fratelli’s and James ,and put in the hands of a competent organiser this could have been a great fest. The space was too small for the number of people that they sold the tickets to and too disorganised to actually work. Had they consulted with the organisers of LIMF or Sound City this might have been a completely different story. In a space such as Sefton Park or Stanley Park this could have been a festival I actually felt safe in, rather than a small fenced off road by Central Library and Liverpool Museum and the park gardens. It’s funny that Pride managed this with absolutely no problems, but Hope & Glory managed to fail everyone in attendance the bands and the gig goers spectacularly.
As I was writing this post it was announced on Radio Merseyside that the festival has been cancelled, with the only reason given by Hope & Glory’s Twitter account being “following the unfair and vitriolic comments, some of us have decided not to proceed.”
If you, like me attended or bought a wrist band I would strongly encourage you to contact Hope and Glory for a refund.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.