New Gibbston music festival down but not out

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Organisers say a Queenstown music festival will return next year with high-profile headliners – despite poor ticket sales this time. 

Fewer than 2000 tickets were sold for the inaugural EarthTonz New Year’s Eve festival. 

The two-day event – at the 10,000 capacity Gibbston Valley Winery site – lost money. 

It saw acts such as Crystal Method, The Freestylers and DJ Muggs perform on an open air stage, along with former Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. 

But the modest crowd – in contrast to the throngs of revellers who crowded Queenstown streets – meant the festival still has a way to go before it becomes the landmark event its organisers hoped. 

Producer Dan Allen confirms the event made a loss, but declines to specify exactly how much. 

“Other than ticket sales, it went great. The reasons for that – I think our marketing missed the target a little bit, at least initially. 

“It’s a new festival so people didn’t know what to expect and were sceptical. 

“And the big thing is we need at least one or two major, high profile, younger artists that are headliners – like an LMFAO, Skrillex or an Afrojack,” Allen says. 

“That would have made a big difference and we did try for some of them but they were either already booked or they wanted an outrageous fee to come and play at a first-year festival.” 

Throughout the afternoon of New Year’s Eve a succession of artists such as San Francisco’s Ana Sia and Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak encouraged punters to get on their feet, but blistering sunshine, little shade and hard-partying the previous night left many lounging around. 

Kiwi bands from the South Island such as Rhythmonyx and Queens­towners The Fletcherz had played the night before at the $150 festival. 

“I think everybody partied pretty hard and it was really hot,” Allen says. 

“Next year we’ll have some shaded gazebos and more sprink­lers – but I preferred the hot weather to what they had up north. 

“We’re going to go again next year, on New Year’s Eve. We’ve worked too hard. 

“We spoke to a lot of people in the campsite the next morning and the vast majority had a really great time. We just need to start the ball rolling earlier this year and get some very popular acts, some bigger Kiwi acts, more online marketing and direct marketing to the universities. 

“The artists loved it but they would have liked to have played to a bigger crowd as well,” Allen says.