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The Evolution of the Metal Music Festival.

Andy Robertson

There are wide variety of dedicated ‘metal’ music festivals that take place around the world every year with popularity remaining high. Where and when did these ‘heavy metal’ music festivals evolve from and what are the future prospects for this relatively niche genre with its own unique atmosphere, line-up, and fan base.

The metal music festival will generally only feature musicians and bands playing heavy metal music and its subgenres, there are no mixed genres at these events. The festival-goers will be dedicated heavy metal music fans often with their own identifiable fashion sense. These fans would rarely venture to other festivals with mixed genre line-ups and have a tendency to stick loyally to the metal festival format. 

Heavy metal has its roots in the rock music of the 1960s and early 1970s and came to prominence at festivals like Woodstock and the Isle of Wight which were multi-genre events. Dedicated rock and heavy metal music festivals emerged in the 1980s and 1990s particularly in the UK and Europe attracting large numbers of festival-goers. 

The Metal Music Genre. 
Although referred to as ‘metal’ festivals this is just short for heavy metal evolving from ‘rock’ music. The genre is usually characterised by its up-tempo aggressive sound, distorted guitars, powerful drumming combined with dramatic or theatrical performances. Over the years the genre has seen the emergence of subgenres with the most popular being: 

  • Traditional Heavy Metal: bluesy guitar riffs, melodic solos, and anthemic choruses.
  • Thrash Metal: aggressive tempos, rapid-fire guitar riffs, and shouted vocals.
  • Death Metal: guttural vocals, complex guitar work, and lyrical themes of violence.
  • Black Metal: raw production, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, and shrieked vocals.
  • Doom Metal: slow tempos, heavy guitar riffs with a melancholic atmosphere. 

Global Reach and Niche Development. 
Some of the largest and most well-known metal festivals now include Download in the UK, Waken Open Air in Germany and Helfest in France. Dedicated metal festivals can be found in most countries from the United States to Australia attracting some sizable audiences. In addition to these larger ‘metal’ festivals that include all subgenres there has been an emergence of music festivals dedicated to each subgenre too. 

Future Prospects.
The demand from dedicated ‘metal’ fans continues to be strong neither falling nor increasing in popularity. As with all music festivals the organisers of ‘metal’ genre events embrace new technology in thier logistics, on-site processes and marketing reach through social media. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for organisers is making their events more inclusive. Traditionally heavy metal music has been predominantly male biased both in performance musicians and in the fanbase. Festival organisers are attempting to change this and are booking more diverse line-ups that include women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+. The evolution of metal festivals reflects the evolving landscape of metal music itself, as well as broader social and cultural changes.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Image by Pixabay via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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