Here’s the thing that gets to SevenStreets. When Hub started, Liverpool City Council wanted nothing to do with it. BMX? Graffiti art? Hoodies and b-boys? No thanks.
Then, late into the party, someone realised that, actually, this was ‘culture’. And, by getting involved, perhaps some cool points could rub off on them.
And so it moved to Otterspool, got a bit crap, but pulled itself together and, last year, was back to its freewheeling, free spirited best. A free festival, with the cream of b-boy crews, local emerging bands, boarders, skaters, pro and amateur alike. Two days of free fun for all – with no bar to entry if you’re unwaged, talented, passionate or in any way part of the population events like this are supposed to engage. And from which Hub evolved in the first place.
And now it’s being monetized. A move so wrong footed it makes us spin on our heads (it’s ok, we’ve put our vinyl down).
Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This is HUB’s ninth year, and it’s getting more and more popular.” (read – ‘we’ll have a bit of that, thanks very much.’).
“Because of the high-calibre of headline acts, for the first time there is a small charge of £5 for a single day ticket or £8 for the two days, but I’m sure young people and their families will be happy to pay this for an adrenalin-fuelled, action-packed day out.”
Actually, Wendy, they won’t be. ‘Young people’ and their families enjoyed it just as it was, thanks. And that was, erm, the point of the festival, street art, street dance, street culture: what part of that shouts ‘yeah, we’d love to pay for that’?
Dave Pichilingi, founder and Director of Liverpool Sound City, said: “We are over the moon to be working in partnership with HUB and we’re delighted to be bringing such big artists to the HUB stage for the first time ever.”
Fair enough, if you want it to be a Funeral For a Friend gig – and no doubt the Welsh rockers can still draw a fine crowd. But Hub wasn’t about the headliners. It was an egalitarian, open and participatory event. Bolting on a paid-for festival can only skew the weekend in a whole new direction, and ultimately ruin its uniqueness, and its reason for existing in the first place.
The trouble, all too often, with Liverpool is that, when it hits on a winning formula, it applies it grapeshot to everything else. Sound City is great, but Hub didn’t need its brand extension. Yet still the money goes round. Out of our pockets (you know, the ones who supported the festival, and got it off the ground) and into the pockets of the chosen few. It’s the way this city works.
“Liverpool Sound City and HUB are two of the greatest events of their kind in the UK. It makes absolute sense for us to work together in this innovative way.”
Not to us, it doesn’t.
Here’s a thought for the city’s excellent Parkour crews – introduce a new ‘jumping the security fence’ championships this year.
We’d pay to see that.