Fans Gasping For Oxegen

Denis Desmond looks set to join that very small group of people who have left Punchestown race track with money in their pockets. The 80,000-capacity Oxegen Festival he runs on the Irish horse racing circuit sold out in less than 12 hours.

The 3-year-old event has never done short of sellout business, but going clean on the first day of sales is a record. Desmond attributes Oxegen’s meteoric success to the strength of its lineups, which soon caught the attention of MTV Europe and New Musical Express readers.

The widespread coverage it gets from the satellite station and the NME – whose readers have voted it one of the Top Five U.K. festivals – has helped give the event a massive media profile.

It’s a standard fixture at the top of the readers’ polls run by the Irish music papers.

Twinned with Scotland’s T In The Park – in the same way as the V Festivals and the Reading-Leeds Carling Weekend are packaged together – it has increased Desmond’s huge slice of the U.K. festival market.

Apart from his interests in the V fests and Oxegen/T In The Park, his partial ownership of Mean Fiddler Music Group means he’s also involved with Reading-Leeds and the world famous Glastonbury Festival.

The speed of the Oxegen sellout prompted Desmond to issue yet another warning to fans regarding the potential problems of buying from touts.

“If you didn’t manage to get tickets this year, then once again we do advise you not to turn to ticket touts or unofficial Web sites.

“Not only will you pay well over the odds, but you may be paying for tickets that do not exist and you will not gain access to the festival with a forgery,” he said via a company press release, echoing the messages being sent out by almost all of the major European festival promoters.

The bill for this year’s Oxegen July 8-9 includes The Who, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, James Brown, Paul Weller, Richard Ashcroft, Pharrell Williams, Editors, Manu Chao, and Placebo.

John Gammon