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Thoughts And Three Steps To Repair The Damage From The 2018 SlossFest Troubles

Last weekend was SlossFest in Birmingham, AL.  Slossfest promised a huge lineup of bands and musicians over a two-day period at the Sloss Furnaces.  Instead, the festival got multiple weather delays, quite a few bands and musicians cancelled, and a severe lack of communications.  The first thing I say about this is, why in the world there would be an outdoor music festival in the middle of July in Alabama!  For starters, every Summer day you see Summer thunderstorms pop up.  It happens every day!  Combine the thunderstorm threat with the extreme heat and humidity, and it’s a recipe for trouble.

On Saturday, a thunderstorm in the area caused a delay that lasted a few hours.  For starters, taking shelter under a bridge does not work very well when lightning strikes next to you.

Eventually some made announcements to evacuate and leave the festival.  But, the festival organizers did not want anyone to leave.  And this back and forth led to massive confusions and mis-communications.  When the festival started up again on late Saturday, musicians began immediately, and many were stuck outside the festival trying to go back in.

And you even had people running across train tracks with a train approaching, never a good idea.

All of this confusion caused people to vent their frustrations on social media.

On Sunday, things did not get better.  Once again nearby thunderstorms caused a delay that lasted a couple of hours.  This caused several bands to be cancelled, including the Alabama based band St. Paul and the Broken Bones.  Thankfully a nearby indoor venue allowed that band to play very late on Sunday night.  But, with several  bands being cancelled once again, this caused even more people to get angry on social media.

And things were not that well over on Instagram either.

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#slossfest insanity

A post shared by Aaron Latham (@avlatham) on

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Waiting to get in to sloss fest #slossfurnace #slossfest

A post shared by Alex Washington (@alex.washington.26) on

So what can SlossFest do to make things right, and give the festival goers something great to talk about?  Let’s start with the obvious!

Find A New Date!

Why in the world did the SlossFest organizers think holding a massive outdoor music festival in the middle of July in Alabama would work?  It’s going to be extremely hot with a massive amount of humidity.  You are going to have thunderstorms, every day in some areas.  And let’s just be honest, extreme heat and humidity makes people more angry and grumpy.

You see other music festivals in the Southeast like Bonnaroo, Hangout, Shaky Knees, and others happen in May and early June, before the extreme heat/humidity and thunderstorms come along.  Trying to hold a massive outdoor music festival, with no indoor structures nearby during thunderstorms, is a recipe for disaster.  It is never a good idea to hold any outdoor event during the afternoon and evenings anywhere in Alabama during July and August.

So if SlossFest was smart, they would start looking for a new date, that is not during late June, July, or August.  If you move it to the Spring, compete or work with Bonnaroo and Hangout to get bands.  If it’s during the Fall, find a date where Alabama and Auburn are either not playing or are playing an easy team, it’s that simple.  Plus, it would be way more cooler and comfortable for the attendees.

Hire New PR Communicators

Whoever SlossFest hired to be communicators needs to be fired.  People complained because not everyone was on the same page at the festival.  Some thought the festival was cancelled, others thought the festival would continue, some thought they were told that everyone had to leave, it was never good.  Along with the mis-commuications, there was radio silence on social media, and some bands told their followers on social media that they were cancelled way before the official SlossFest accounts did.

Next time, there must be a team of people who can answer questions from attendees on social media very quickly.  Plus, there needs to be a team that can tell the other festival officials what is going on and what to do next.  There are always going to be people who have questions and concerns during any event or festival.  It’s up to that event / festival to make sure there is staff to answer those questions.

Less Bands / Lower Prices

SlossFest had a massive lineup of bands and musicians this year.  Way too many I would say!  This caused several bands / musicians to have to be cancelled.  Thankfully some of these bands got to play at downtown indoor venues, but some did not.  A general ticket for 2-days was $145, $145!  A single day ticket was $85, way too much for many people across Alabama.  Along with the extremely high prices inside the festival, I saw where beer was nearly $10, and you are breaking the banks of many people.

Alabama is a lower-income state, and there are many people who can not afford to spend extreme prices like this.  And now since you have many demanding refunds or a lower ticket price for next year, now would be a good time to lower prices!  And to lower prices, SlossFest should consider limiting the amount of bands / musicians coming to the festival.  Having this many bands along with the weather problems meant pissed off attendees.  Less bands means the prices for tickets can be lower!

Anyways, this Twitter user had some good thoughts about the problems at SlossFest this year.

Overall, if SlossFest wants to survive, it must make some big changes including a new date!  There is a reason why other music festivals like City Stages, Crawfish Boil, Gadsden Riverfest, and other never survived.  It’s never a good idea to run a massive outdoor event in Alabama during the Summer.  To sum things up, this was the mood from many who attended SlossFest this year.

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