What makes a Festival? Has BBC 6 Music done it? 2
Programme Name: BBC Radio 6 Music Festival 2022 Launch - TX: n/a - Episode: BBC Radio 6 Music Festival 2022 Launch (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Huw Stephens - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap

What makes a Festival? Has BBC 6 Music done it?

A few weeks ago BBC 6 Music announced that their hugely popular festival would be returning, this time, to the musical base of Cardiff from the 1-3 April 2022. 


Wales, the land of song, can sometimes be overlooked as a destination but has a fantastic pedigree with Cardiff in particular having not just the history but a real living music community that is both thriving and creating. The festival boasts some incredible headliners in Pixies, Little Simz, Gruff Rhys, Idles, Johnny Marr and Cat Power. 


6 music poster

The announcement seemed to be the worst kept secret in Cardiff’s Twitter-sphere as many music insiders promised a “big announcement” would be dropping. Unsurprisingly, the news has been met with absolute delight that there will be such easy access to award winning, stadium-filling acts, as well as some really buzz-worthy up and coming musicians such as Wet Leg and Self Esteem



It’s hard not to feel really enthused by such a line-up. Self Esteem’s last Cardiff show was an absolute triumph of stage-presence and musicianship that set social media alight. 


OUT NOW ⚡️ #selfesteem #newmusic

♬ original sound – SELF ESTEEM


A lot of the buzz from BBC 6 Music and initial other outlets really focused on concepts of this being good for the local community too. Wales online called it A great day for the Welsh music scene…”.

The first wave of acts were a bit thin on the ground in terms of Welsh representation and so whilst claims were made of this being a “Cardiff” festival that belonged to the city and of the city, it simply felt like some shows being announced. The other main gripe is that despite being called a festival, ticketing is such that you have to buy a separate ticket for each headline act and each event at each venue. Just to add extra fuel to the fire, with the exception of a couple of daytime events, all shows take place at the same time, with little effort made to stagger stage times making it impossible for multiple acts to be enjoyed (I did the maths for you). 

It wasn’t until the second wave of announcements when a fringe section of the event, supported by Creative Wales and Creative Cardiff, was added and more local acts came into play, that this started to take more shape and have more of a personal flavour in touch with Cardiff’s scene. Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director of Creative Wales, said:It is hugely exciting to welcome the BBC 6 Music Festival to Cardiff, and to have the opportunity to create a Fringe Festival hosted at grassroots music venues across the city.” Wonderful Welsh acts like CHROMA and Red Telephone are now set to play beloved venues such as The Moon and Tiny Rebel along with other fringe events like the University of South Wales sponsored Immersed set of events with Afro Cluster and Benji Wild




The restrictions of the ticketing system, however, remain a huge sticking point. Many feel that this is fundamentally against the spirit of a festival; that it should be a multi-headliner event, where you can go and experience different performers and even different art forms for one admission fee. Here, instead, your single ticket to IDLES just gets you in to see the IDLES show and nothing else. There are also clashes as you have to choose between shows and headliners. The tickets all sold out so quickly too and were quickly found on re-selling sites illegally. This is why some have been sceptical of its usefulness as a “city” festival and wish it would be more appropriately promoted as a series of commercial shows. Obviously many people are used to festivals being expensive “treats”, but the way these separate shows stack up in price so quickly feels like poor value for money as opposed to offering a system that better reflects the spirit of a festival. 

It is prudent to point out this is not the only music festival happening in Wales this Spring. In the very same month as the BBC 6 Music event one of Cardiff’s favourite calendar events, Wales Goes Pop takes place. A 2 Day Easter family-friendly festival in the beautiful restored church The Gate in Roath 14-17 April, this year it features: Adwaith (whose show at the BBC 6 Music festival has sold out), Dream Nails, Field Music, The Darling Buds and The School. Then in Wrexham May 5-7 2022 we have the annual showcase festival Focus Wales (Wales is lucky enough to boast several top showcase festivals; including Focus, Swn and Swansea Fringe). Focus Wales is a uniting event that works hard to bring the international community together to share music and ideas to propel each other forward. As usual it takes over every possible corner, stable and manger of Wrexham with Self Esteem again headlining, as will Gwenno with the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen and Peaness joining them. What is great is a more comprehensive ticketing system than BBC 6 Music, and in fact all other festivals mentioned here. It is easier to access as little or as much as you want as a performer, delegate or casual viewer. Yes, it is a showcase festival which is a specific type of festival with more events geared towards networking, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that its entrance ideas can’t transpose. 

And that is a good place to meditate: Since the pandemic began and the live music scene was all but decimated it has been, as with other industries, postured that we now have the chance to make things better. For a festival that uses in its marketing language a lot of words about Cardiff and why the location is key to the festival’s success, few new or groundbreaking ideas have gone into the structure or foundations of the festival itself. As well as the restrictive one ticket, one venue system, the ticket purchase system was archaic. It was first past the post and only if you work from home, many missing out on Self Esteem (can you tell I love her yet?) because they couldn’t be online at a certain time. 



They are as a festival following the standard PA/Assistant or Carer scheme for tickets for disabled attendees, meaning 2 for 1 tickets for those requiring assistance but few further innovative ideas. This was a chance to initiate new concepts for accessibility concerning local pricing, tiered ticketing and also holding venues accountable to stronger accessibility thresholds. In Cardiff we are lucky enough to have a really active Gig Buddies chapter,  Ffrindiau Gigiau Cymru, that works to make it easy for those with learning disabilities to gain independence for nights out at shows which is life-enhancing and horizon-expanding for all parties involved.



What a shame BBC 6 Music has not reached out to the local community in these more real ways. Or perhaps that Creative Cardiff has not been more imaginative. Of course, such a big event happening in Cardiff does afford opportunities for other events to happen independently from the main event itself, such as the fringe events (official or otherwise) which indirectly benefits the wider music community. And this is great. It is wonderful that the venues and bands we all know deserve to be held up and celebrated are getting on a wider stage and getting press because they are caught in the BBC 6 Music limelight. However, being on promotional posters, seeing your name on a website and being previewed is, as every musician will tell you very different from someone deciding to buy a separate ticket to come and see you. It seems bizarre that a better ticketing system could not have been devised. So please, if you have booked anything for this – Bloc Party, Pixies, Jon Ronson, come and see what else Cardiff has to offer as there is a vibrant bustle of people here eager to perform wonderful sounds for you that weekend. 


BBC 6 Music Cardiff Festival Full Line Up Information

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.