Way Out Ahead

Live Nation looks to have made light of the loss of the Hultsfred booking contract by establishing a festival that’s already challenging at the top of the Swedish market.

Within a couple of months of buying the 51 percent of the company it didn’t already own, LN has seen the second edition of Luger’s Way Out West Festival pull crowds of about 22,000 per day.

That’s a couple of thousand below what this year’s Hultsfred Festival did, but the Gothenburg event is making such rapid progress that it could well be a very close call in 2009.

Last year, Way Out West had to increase the Slottsskogen site capacity to 16,000 after the original 10,000 tickets went weeks in advance.

“I don’t want to sound big-headed in any way, but I think it’s fair to say that Way Out West in only two years has become Sweden’s most important festival and people tend to think it has set a new standard,” Luger chief Ola Broquist told Pollstar after this year’s figures showed the event has grown a further 40 percent.

“More or less all the Swedish media has reacted extremely well to the festival. We’re extremely happy that so many people share our taste in music and the idea of a nice festival. We are simply doing the festival we would like to visit ourselves,” he said.

In the last year, the Swedish outdoor market has witnessed a major shakeup, beginning with David Maloney and Mikael Tillman leaving Live Nation to join AEG.

LN’s neighbour and global rival followed up by buying Supreme Royal Deluxe, the Hultsfred booking company owned by Petri Lunden and Janne Kleman.

That move effectively took Kleman to AEG, while Niklas Jonsson – his assistant at Supreme Royal Deluxe – moved to Luger. Jonsson also books acts for some of the country’s smaller outdoors including Umeå Open Festival and Stockholm’s Propaganda Festival.

The acts helping LN and Luger make a big bang in the Swedish festival business August 7-9 included Neil Young, Franz Ferdinand, Grinderman, Sigur Rós, Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips.