Indies Plunder Festival Awards

Radio One DJ and Bestival producer Rob Da Bank saw each of his events pick up a UK Festival Award during an indie-dominated ceremony at London’s IndigO2 Nov. 18.

Bestival, a 60,000-capacity event held at Robin Hill country park on the Isle of Wight, was crowned best festival, while Camp Bestival – its little sister that’s staged at Lulworth Castle in Dorset – won for best family festival.

In 2008 the first staging of the 15,000-capacity Camp Bestival won the UK Festival Award for best new festival.

Da Bank, real name Robert Gorham, was one of a procession of indie festival producers to be called to the stage, as Vintage at Goodwood picked up the best new festival award while Kendal Calling and Green Man picked up awards for best small and medium festivals. The “grass roots festival award” went to 2000 Trees.

“Best metropolitan festival” went to Gaymers Camden Crawl, a two-day event staged across 40 of the north London borough’s venues.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was in the “overseas festival” category. It’s previously gone to such well-established gatherings as Serbia’s Exit Festival and Ireland’s Oxegen Festival, but this time it was one by the rather less well-known Snowbombing, a weeklong winter sports and music festival held annually in the spring at the Austrian ski resort of Mayrhofen.

Manchester-based promoter Outgoing Ltd. started the event at Risoul in France in 2000, and each staged it either there or in Switzerland before settling in the Tyrol in 2005.

Best dance event went to Creamfields and “The Greener Festival Award,” run in association with, went to the splendidly named Croissant Neuf Summer Party.

There wasn’t a corporate winner in sight until Coca-Cola took the award for best sponsor activation for its “Recycle Garden” and “Swap For Swag” schemes.

In fact, it was the artists that eventually got the major events on the scoreboard, as AC/DC took headline performance of the year for its show at Live Nation’s Download Festival. Glastonbury – which has its own fair claims to indie status – was where Biffy Clyro played the set that made it the Virtual Festivals’ “Critics Choice.”

Glastonbury was also named promoter of the year. Lineup of the year went to Rockness, which is largely owned by AEG Live.
The other artist awards went to Paolo Nutini, who was apparently the “feel good act of the summer,” while Mumford & Sons was best breakthrough artist. Florence & The Machine’s “You Got The Love” was named anthem of the summer.

Prior to the awards, it was announced that DF Concerts chief Geoff Ellis, who has established the company as Scotland’s major promoter and developed the 85,000-capacity T In The Park to award-winning status, would win the lifetime achievement award. His festival was also voted to have had the best toilets.

In recognition of the backstage staff, the “outstanding contribution to festival production” award went to Neil McDonald.

One production industry insider told Pollstar McDonald, a production manager, is best known for “his complete lack of rock ’n’ roll bullshit attitude” and his ability to deal with people at all levels “from blokes pushing boxes to the guy who pays the bill.”

The indie festivals probably needed something to cheer them up after the daytime UK Festival Conference had heard how they – or at the least the smaller ones among them – are likely to be the targets of organised crime during the summer of 2011.

One of the biggest winners of the night was the event itself as Virtual Festivals founder Steve Jenner reported the awards gathering – which attracted 1,100 in 2009 – could have sold out the 1,500-capacity venue twice over.

Last year’s conference attracted 300 paying delegates but this year it sold out its 400-capacity.