Crowd control

Published on July 8, 2014
Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, belts out the lyrics to a screaming audience at this year's Salmon Festival. Maroon 5 was the concert's headliner.
Matt Molloy photo

The big luau in the logging town has come and gone for another year. Grand Falls-Windsor’s milling days may be over, but organizers can still grind out an exciting show, attracting throngs of rock music fans from all across the island and beyond. It has become, in effect, Newfoundland’s Glastonbury.

Salmon Festival 2014 was a more intimate affair than its predecessors — if you consider a crowd of at least 8,000 intimate — but fans appeared more than pleased with the result.

Whether the festival broke even isn’t known yet, but the more manageable numbers were at least a relief for those who got caught in last year’s debacle.

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The 2013 concert attracted a whopping 30,000 people.

Audience members were not allowed to take anything into the venue with them, including food and water.

Temperatures of 30-plus degrees caused a rush on bottled water that organizers hadn’t planned for, causing long lineups at concession stands and some minor cases of dehydration.

As well, thousands more than anticipated somehow crashed the VIP area, making it almost unbearable for those who had paid the premium price for the preferred view.

Angry calls and letters flooded the town hall and media outlets.

Talk of a class-action suit was floated, and the mayor eventually issued a formal apology.

This year, there was no heat wave, but those in charge took no chances. A free water refill station was set up on site.

And yet, in spite of the bad vibes of 2014, it’s probably the genre of music that kept the head count lower this year.

As one newsroom wag pointed out Monday, older music fans have one thing newer music fans often don’t — money.

Whether by chance or by design, none of the bands booked were targeted at the 40-plus crowd — a demographic that, of course, invented the mega-rock phenomenon.

This year, two of the two main acts were Pitbull, a rapper, and Maroon 5, a group that’s actually been active for more than a decade, but which tends to cater to younger pop fans. One of their biggest hits, “Moves like Jagger,” is more club vibe than a nod to the Rolling Stones frontman.

To get an idea how much of a departure this year’s lineup was, one need only look at some of the headliners from recent years. Last year’s sweatfest featured The Eagles; in 2012 the headliner was Aerosmith. Kiss heated things up in 2011. In 2008 it was perennial favourites Blue Rodeo.

Baby Boomers may be starting to lose their pull on the music business, and that’s a good thing if you’re uncomfortable with mobs the size of an Arab Spring protest.

You could say 8,000’s company; 30,000’s a crowd.