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.

16 Responses to “Hub: If It Ain’t Broke…”

  1. Shay McApra

    I think the point is that Oye has to charge because of the added costs this year. It got so big it now needs to be fenced, added security etc. No charge, no festival. With Hub it’s case of a cost simply because they’ve gone and booked some big names.

  2. Here’s a novel thought. Not all festivals are the same/ attract the same audience. Just because they both were free, doesn’t mean they both have to develop along similar lines. Hub was, first and foremost, a celebration of street art and culture, and a large percentage of its audience are young/unwaged. We’d posit that an entry charge for them will be, relatively, more of an issue, than for those at Africa Oye. Also, headline acts of FFAF is a new element which significantly alters the feel of the event. Africa Oye’s aims remain the same, they’ve just ramped up the acts and security. But it’s just our thoughts, it’s cool if you disagree like.

  3. Can’t you choose not to watch Funeral for a Friend and get in free? Why force everyone to cough up for something they never missed in the first place? What’s the point in this, can anyone explain? We came for the skills, not for the popstars.

  4. Hub didn’t need *any* name rock band to play it or to pull people in. It did extremely well with kids – and was a manageable safe size, too – without it, and felt like a really organic success. I’m sure they’ll sell tickets to it, sure, but it’s a totally unnecessary change.

  5. Remarkable

    once again, the city’s creative innovators and pioneers build something up for the suits to spunk up the wall and cash in at the bank. the true creative spirit will go underground again, Hub needs them more than we need it.

  6. Booooored.

    Sound City getting their hooks in, great. So now local bands will have less chance of getting a top slot at a local festival. Sound City aspire to replicate South by Southwest yet they don’t offer any payment to local bands or even a few perks in place of payment i.e. a free festival pass or access to an artists lounge. Yet you can bet all the ‘headliners’ get both and probably more. At South by Southwest even the smallest unsigned band are offered either payment or a pass, plus access to a central artists hub with facilities/refreshments/networking opportunities. Any money that is available at Sound City doesn’t seem to be used to support local acts – apparently the ‘kudos’ of playing at Sound City is supposed to be payment enough? No respect.

  7. Since when has sound city been about the musicians? It’s a money making franchise pure and. Why would it go to Dubai otherwise? Since when has that been a musical city? Liverpool Music Week is still run by people who care about the local scene. Sound City always was a poor relation to In The City, but now with Wilson gone, it must be rubbing its hands with glee.

  8. Divvy Pop

    Oh great, Dave Pichilingi is now involved.

    All the HUB festival needs bands such as The Whip, Sand Band or The Red Suns playing there, isn’t it?

    Maybe even the Lost Brothers will make an appearance.

    Dunno if the Liverpool music scene will be enriched by this Sound City involvement (or should i say interference?) with the HUB festival…but whatever happens, Mr. Pichilingi pockets certainly will. As usual…

  9. To be fair, the bands they’ve booked for this new thing thus far have been fairly ‘on demographic’ for the type of kids who go to HUB. But yeah, it’s not like the event was crying out for a bunch of heavyweight acts in the first place, people seemed to love it regardless.

  10. Local music fan

    “Liverpool Sound City and HUB are two of the greatest events of their kind in the UK.”


    Maybe there should be an item on Seven Streets dedicated to Liverpool Sound City and why it thinks it’s better than it actually is. They’re only interested in the local music scene taking part if they think they can make a profit, and everyone else can go take a running jump.

    And who actually goes to these panels of industry movers and shakers? I spoke to someone who went to one session with only a handful of people in the audience.

  11. As much as I tend to agree with the majority, that it’s always been and always should be a free event, could the new charge be a tactic to deter the small proportion of trouble-makers who have always tended to spoil things?

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