Liskfest: What Happened?

Liskfest 2008
Somewhere in a Canyon – Irvine, CA

Festival Rating: D-

Ahh…LiskFest. I had high hopes for this festival. This year was the first annual mark for this event. The punk festival was founded by Chris Lisk, thus the name, Liskfest. I have to note this because several people came up to me at the festival asking what it meant. I was really excited about this festival because Pennywise was originally going to headline the festivities. I am going to guess after the sponsors pulled and they canceled Liskfest that’s when Pennywise said See Ya!

My experience started off by emailing the press contact to find out what the status of the event was because I was confused. One minute we are confirmed for passes the next I am told it’s canceled. Then I go onto their website and it’s back on. My question is, why didn’t they let everybody on their press list know it was back on?

After finding it was back on and with a second stage (another story I will hit later) and minus Pennywise. We planned our day for Liskfest in Irvine, California. Mind you, I was still excited at this point.

First Impressions

First impressions are a very important thing and Liskfest gave me a bad one when I first walked up to the table to pick up, what I thought was, a media pass and a photo pass. I walked up to find ladies with attitude sitting at the table acting like they have the only swimming pool in the neighborhood and everybody wants in. They also had on two-way radios, a.k.a. walkie- talkies. This is a bad thing that I discourage during a public event. Why? I can hear the rudeness from both ends of the two-ways. It is really bad when the rudeness comes from the guy who founded the event. This is a first annual event and making people feel unwelcome doesn’t make for a good first impression.

VIPS and Access

The ladies at the table handed us VIP passes, which at first we were happy with, but realized being a VIP wasn’t going to work for us(media). We were allowed backstage and had access to free beer plus hanging with some of the musicians that were on the bill. To our surprise, they only had ONE beer stand and the line for that was extremely long, so long that even the true beer lovers wouldn’t stand in it. In addition, they only had a few port-a-potties. I shouldn’t even have to say how important it is to have a plethora of restrooms for patrons especially when they are paying more for a “better experience”. There was a girl that passed out by a vehicle and we watched as they dragged her in between vehicles so no one would see her. This is all taking place backstage.

The Media Experience

From a media standpoint, at every other festival we’ve covered, like Rockstar Mayhem and Warped Tour to name a couple, we are handed media passes that separate us from VIPs and Ticket holders. We are supposed to take pictures, usually from the barricade in front of the stage and hold interviews with the bands. At this event, we weren’t allowed in the barricades for photos, and only select people with cameras that had the all access wristbands could get onstage for photos. We felt like Liskfest was wasting our time because we didn’t feel that they really wanted media there, otherwise they would have accommodated us more.

We ended up spending our time out in front of the main stage because of how unorganized it was backstage. People were just walking around as bands would get their gear ready. I am surprised bands just left their gear out when the public (VIP) was free to walk around. There should be a separation so fans don’t get in the way of bands setting up. Plus the groupies were out in full force.

The other thing, again from a media standpoint, or I guess for anyone who brought their camera, was the lack of stage lighting. There wasn’t any! We didn’t even stay after the sun went down because we weren’t going to get good shots off. Every event needs media coverage and Liskfest doesn’t get that.

The Second Stage

It was great to see a second stage, not that I actually got to watch anybody on it. Yet, it was discouraging to hear that bands had to pay to play on the second stage. I am not a fan of payolas. I want to know how much the second stage funded the festival. It was already canceled once due to lack of funds, so how much did the second stage save Liskfest?

Overall, it was a very raw festival. It looked like an out of control house party. Except most of the time people were just standing around looking bored. The hardcore fans of the bands were in front of the stage moshing having a good time, but everybody else just stood around. There weren’t enough vendors to occupy patrons as they waited for bands. The VIP experience wasn’t worth what people were paying, so if this festival makes it to next year don’t waste your money on the VIP aspect and bring something to do because you may get bored. Plus they need a media section for the media because we may not have paid for a ticket, but you still have to show us respect and allow us to be able to do our jobs, which most of the time, is to give good press.

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