This morning, the inaugural Sydney City Limits festival was announced for February 2018. Following in the footpaths of the iconic Austin City Limits two weekend long event that happens in Texas every year and more recently, the brand’s establishment in Auckland, the Australian event also signifies a confident step forward by the partnership of Secret Sounds and Live Nation.
The line up, on paper, is impressive enough to pull in the numbers. Beck, Justice, Phoenix, Thundercat and The Libertines are names that haven’t been seen on Australian shores in some time, while heavy hitting names including Vance Joy, Tash Sultana, Gang of Youths and Dune Rats bolster the local contingent. Or in layman’s terms, they’re ticking the triple j box.
Throw in a curated menu of food on offer courtesy of the crew behind Mary’s in Newtown and The Unicorn in Paddington (not to mention food trucks galore), Sydney City Limits has pulled together a festival that can’t really go wrong.
Which brings us to the ticket prices. If you’re lucky to get in on the first release tickets, you’re looking at dropping $179.90. If you leave it later, the prices go up in $10 increments (third release sits pretty at $199.90). You want the VIP experience? Be ready to spend $299.90 for the opportunity to access a separate private bar, clean toilets, express entry and other perks that will no doubt boost your Instagram followers by the end of the day.
Looking at just some of the other festivals taking place around this early 2018 mark, the difference in price is noticeable.
Take next year’s Laneway Festival tour, as probably the most ‘major’ festival example. Punters in Sydney and Melbourne are paying the most out of the entire tour, at $174.50 a ticket. Festival prices in Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle are somewhat cheaper at $149.50, $144.50 and $155.00 respectively.
Hell, even take Splendour in the Grass this year. $385 (plus booking fees) got you a three day festival pass. There’s no contesting that the winter festival sells out every year even before line up additions are announced, so while we can get excited that there is another kid on the Australian festival block, it will be interesting to see how it fares.
An all ages event, Sydney City Limits will no doubt sell many more tickets than it would have done had it been 18+ (see: Adelaide and Brisbane 16+ Laneway Festivals in recent years); though you have to wonder if people are going to be willing to shell out that kind of money when the Australians on the line up have had huge touring years this year (Bad//Dreems, Dune Rats, Alex Lahey, Gang of Youths), while the international artists – obvious names – can’t be relied on to bring it on to bring it over the line on their own.
I could be horrendously wrong, and the festival pulls a Gorillaz out of the bag as a secret headliner closer to (they’ve advertised 30 artists over four stages, which means there’s eight more still TBA), but the way Australian festival culture has gone over the last few years with the deaths of the Big Day Out, Future Music and Soundwave – in place of the more popular ’boutique’ events – I’ll be interested to see how this one pans out.
Not to get it twisted, I want Sydney City Limits to be a success and endure. The legacy the Austin flagship event has created over the last 15 years is proof in the pudding that excellent curation of music and the offering of a ‘destination’ experience will always guarantee the numbers through the gates.
I also remember the years when you were spoiled for choice in the Australian spring/summer; you had Parklife and Homebake one weekend, Summadayze, Harbourlife the next. You could never really remember Stereosonic after the event, but that was always on the table. Field Day and the Big Day Out took out another two blocks in the diary, while Future Music, Good Vibrations, V Fest and of course, Laneway and Soundwave tied off a busy run of festivals until Golden Plains kicked in a few months later.
For the younger generation of music fan, this likely to be a festival that will be pounced on – rightly so, too. All the elements are there. The line up is safe, with a few outliers (everyone should be seeing Grace Jones for a theatrical masterclass) in place to turn heads inquisitively. At the moment now, something still feels missing when the tickets are sitting at that price. A larger headliner? A different location? Who knows, perhaps the large, final piece of the puzzle is still yet to be put into the jigsaw.
Keen to see how this one develops.
For more information on Sydney City Limits, visit www.sydneycitylimits.com. The festival will be held at Sydney’s Centennial Park on February 24th.