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New Liverpool festival cancels day two after queues dominate day one

By | Published on Monday 7 August 2017

The inaugural Hope & Glory Festival had to call off its Sunday proceedings this weekend, but – unlike last month’s Y Not Festival – organisers couldn’t blame the weather or the mud, because this event took place in Liverpool city centre and the sun shined (though, according to two reviewers, it did get quite muddy around the seemingly overflowing urinals).

Promoters pulled the second day after much criticism online of the first day of the festival, which suffered from long queues – both to gain access to the site and for bars and other facilities once inside the compound – as well as over-crowding and stages running up to two hours behind schedule, delays that resulted in Charlotte Church being kicked off the bill.

Plenty of bands did play on day one and there was positive feedback of many of those performances, though online most of the chatter was about the queues and the crowds, with Tim Booth of headliners James following up his set with a late night tweet declaring: “Well that was fucked up. Sorry everyone was messed around so badly. Hope you managed to find some pleasure amongst the chaos”.

For a time it was unclear whether day two would go ahead, with organisers apparently telling local media it would, while some artists and staff had been informed otherwise. Liverpool City Council then put out a statement confirming the Sunday line-ups had indeed been cancelled, while the official Hope & Glory Twitter feed stated simply “no festival today”.

While nothing was happening on stage on Sunday, plenty was occurring online thanks to other posts made on the official Hope & Glory Facebook and Twitter feeds, which did little to placate annoyed ticket holders. An individual production manager was blamed for the festival’s site not being fully operational, with said production manager’s personal email address then published on the festival’s Facebook page, the implication being that pissed off punters should direct their rage at him personally.

Meanwhile on Twitter, the festival’s official feed began Sunday by stating that “following the unfair and vitriolic comments, some of us have decided not to proceed”. It then hit out at Tim Booth’s aforementioned critique of the event, and then sparred with complaining ticket-holders in a series of tweets, occasionally annoyed in tone, more often flippant.

But, as most of those watching all this unfold online noted, there was no actual apology, not even for the inconvenience caused to those who had attended the event. Which seemed odd. Indeed, so unusual were the event’s official social media posts – given the circumstances – a spoof Twitter feed had been established before the day was out.

Meanwhile, many on the social networks declared the whole thing a textbook case study in how not to manage crisis communications. Which was all the more ironic given the company behind the festival – tinyCOW (and not, we should add, the in-no-way-connected Hope & Glory PR) – is also a communications agency.

Elsewhere on Twitter, Liverpool businesses offered discounts to Hope & Glory wristband holders who now found themselves at a loose end in the city, while some local venues announced they’d try to accommodate any bands who’d been due to play the festival. And several bands did then play impromptu shows.

A slightly more conventional post on the festival’s Facebook page later in the day stated that “it was with great regret that we felt it was necessary to cancel today’s Hope & Glory festival”, before promising another announcement on the cancellation before midday today. Comments made by tinyCOW’s Lee O’Hanlon to the Liverpool Echo yesterday suggested a falling out between his company and Liverpool City Council, which may well be expanded on in today’s statement.

Meanwhile ticket-holders were told to approach their ticket agent for a refund which, if tickets were bought via the festival’s own website, would be either Eventbrite or Skiddle. While those with Sunday tickets will presumably be due a full refund, it’s not clear what the situation is for those with weekend tickets, or those who had a Saturday ticket but gave up trying to get in because of the queues.