2012 Nest Fest disappointing, but change brings possibilities
Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 21:01
The FGCU Programming Board's Jan. 24 announcement that Wiz Khalifa is headlining Nest Fest immediately drew a lot of criticism. A raging debate erupted on the PB's Facebook as both sides traded blows.
In one corner, there were the "Wiz Khalifa is awesome" people, and in the other, there were the "Nest Fest is supposed to be rock" or the "way to cater to only hip-hop fans" people.
Even I, who have no appreciation for this Khalifa guy, was pretty miffed when I heard that the follow-up to such a banging show last year (Taking Back Sunday, 3oh!3, Jack's Mannequin, The Maine) was the opposite of what I expected.
And the proclamation that Nest Fest and Eaglepalooza weren't going to be genre-specific anymore seemed like a fishy excuse to get out of booking a less-popular rock artist so that they could book a sure-to-sellout hip-hop artist.
As it turns out, though, the PB did have an extensive list of rock bands they tried to book before turning to Khalifa. Their press release notes Paramore (awesome), A Day to Remember (insane), Skrillex and Maroon 5.
While I initially perceived a lack of effort by the PB to book anyone but the most mainstream rock artists, when I sat down with concert director Melissa Khayata and saw the rest of the artists they tried to book, I was floored.
Personal favorites such as All Time Low, Blink 182, Cobra Starship and All-American Rejects joined names like Korn, Slipknot, 30 Seconds to Mars and Cage the Elephant.
Even ska-punk mainstays Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish were considered, and it's a shame they couldn't have been booked because both are quite the hoot live.
According to Khayata, all of the artists on the list fell through, either because they were already booked or weren't available. Khalifa came up as a potential alternative, but there wasn't much time to act—they went ahead and booked him.
Just days later, the Australian music festival that had sucked up a lot of the other acts tried to get Khalifa. And the PB is expecting the show to be huge.
"There has been some negativity and we don't want people to be upset with it because we want to try to please as many students, but at the same time we've had the largest number of positive reactions to this concert than any other," Khayata said.
But there were vocal critics of the decision all over Facebook and Twitter. Mainstream music, a category that Khalifa easily qualifies for, has a particular quality in that it attracts the most vehement critics, who often accuse artists of being sellouts or talentless or x other baseless claim.
I try to be less haughty as I clutch vinyl records of much less glamorous bands. After all, I'm used to driving hours outside of Fort Myers to get to any sort of interesting concert.
Let's be honest: Fort Myers is hardly a concert town. There's the 99Xmas Ball, of which I'm no big fan of, FGCU's concerts, a few good Germain ones, and that about covers it. It makes sense that the PB would grab the artists that are most likely to sell student tickets because it's one of the few shots they have to bring activity here.
The numbers don't lie, either. According to records, the PB spent $159,000 solely on booking costs for last year's Nest Fest, which sold a total of 3,403 tickets. However, they spent $96,500 on booking costs for Pit Bull, Travis Porter and Na Palm, and Eaglepalooza sold nearly double the amount of tickets at 6,686. You can say that Pit Bull is a classless hooligan, but he really sells tickets. Last year's Nest Fest sounds like an experiment gone wrong.
"We had trouble getting a good rock artist and that's why we went with the underground," Khayata said about the 2011 Nest Fest. "We figured it would bring in a different crowd, which in a way it did, but at the same time the attendance wasn't what we expected."
For people like me who think a two-hour drive to a concert is a blessing, Nest Fest's unappealing lineup doesn't matter much in the long run. I would have liked to see some more rock acts considered before jumping on Khalifa, though.
I could envision bands such as Anberlin, Underoath or Mayday Parade (all of which are Florida bands) making a stand, in addition to out-of-state acts such as Linkin Park, Rise Against or System of a Down.