Take a moment, remember why you do it
When I was 14 years old, I sat on the grassy field of a local football oval in Byron Bay, in the afternoon sun watching band after band pour their heart and soul into their treasured festival slot. My family and I were taking in the experience that was the Crossroads Stage at our very first Bluesfest.
Looking back, this was a defining moment for me. I was awestruck by the big tents, the huge stages, the mouth-watering smells of the food stalls, the colourful outfits, and of course, the music. This was a temporary community, constructed purely in the pursuit of happiness and rock ‘n’ roll. It was an experience oasis, providing its lucky citizens the opportunity to press pause on their day to day, and simply enjoy the moment and the memories they were creating.
I wanted in.
Being a part of that audience has led me back to Bluesfest on thirteen more occasions over the years, with an insatiable appetite for the good times. As my education and career progressed, each pilgrimage to Bluesfest encouraged and refined my desire to produce festivals, events… experiences.
In July of this year, I was fortunate enough to attend Splendour in the Grass, another example of where live music reigns supreme as the great equalizer. Even eleven consecutive ‘Splendours’ could not have prepared me for the emotional roller coaster ride Bernard Fanning orchestrated in the setting sun of Saturday afternoon. Mid-set he alluded to the passing of a decade since his former and now separated band had played a festival slot at Splendour. Whilst letting that nostalgia set in, he swiftly invited his former band mates to the stage for a one-time reunion.
Powderfinger were back! A band of the highest significance in my lifetime, from my home-town, they recorded albums down the road from my high school. They followed in the footsteps of the greats and took Aussie rock ‘n’ roll to the world. At this moment, there was an immediate impact on their audience, a lightning bolt of emotion ran through the thousands as a wave of punters came flooding over the hill as word quickly spread. It was a moment of unified joy and nostalgia shared amongst strangers. A memory, those strangers and myself won’t soon forget.
Once I’d recovered from the overwhelming nature of what had just occurred, I took time to reflect on the fact that beautiful moments like those don’t happen without the hard work and dedication of those behind the scenes, bringing that experience to life. An inspiring reminder to persevere through the 18 hour days, tough client meetings, impossible deadlines, which comparably speaking are often small investments for the lasting memories of your audience.
Participating as an audience member has taught me so much about how to continuously improve. Most importantly, being in the audience serves as a reminder that people, much like myself, simply want to connect on an emotional, mental and physical level to what they are experiencing, and head home with memories to enrich their life’s narrative.
So, take a moment, remove the many production, creative and admin hats that we all wear in our day-to-day working lives. Allow yourself to be immersed in the audience. Whether it be on the grass at a festival, in the comfort of a theatre, consuming a Guzman burrito at a tech conference, behind the wheel at a car launch or sipping champagne at the polo. Somewhere at the core of these experiences is an unparalleled joy and freedom, which should serve as a reminder of why you do what you do. Cherish it. Bring it with you on a Monday morning, carry it into your next project, and most importantly, share it with all of us.
Patty Roberts – GPJ Producer